So: You Want To Be A Real Estate Agent?

It is easy right? Stick a ‘For Sale’ sign up – and off you go – what could be simpler? – the cash starts rolling in, flash cars, new watch, book a holiday…buy a yacht..?

Sorry, I’m going to shatter your illusion! It’s Not Like That.

Don’t get me wrong there is no ‘science’ involved, no masters degree required, you don’t particularly need any outstanding skills either – you will just either ‘have it’ – or – ‘you won’t’.

Yes, this career is great fun, and you can – at times, make money! But every single deal you do will be different, every single deal you do will drain your time, momentum and at times it seems, your life!

You must be prepared to take the bad (often) with the good (sometimes) I guess like all things in life there is a balance.

Here in Malta – (so far) there is no Real Estate Regulation as such, no Licence required – just open a Facebook page – call yourself an agent and away you go. Or you answer one of the constant ‘Wanted’ adverts promoting ‘New Career – Make Loads of Money’ from a High Street Agency. (On an island of just over 400,000 people there appear to be 100,000 real estate agents – I’m kidding the last count was 1,000)

What I want to give you – is a little reality check, something to think about before you embark on your ‘New Career’

Let’s Start By Asking Yourself A Couple Of Questions:

  • Am I prepared to work 7 days per week, every week and be available 24 hours a day?
  • Do I have the organisation skills and the self-motivation to cope with question 1?
  • Can I work for 3 – 4 – 6 months without a single euro of income?
  • Can I deal with numerous tasks and clients at one time? All the while NOT allowing this new career to consume every waking hour of my life?
  • Can I get on with people? Do I actually like people? – or at the very least can I ACT as if I do?
  • I hate to break the news to you – but only if you have answered YES to all of these – will you have a fighting chance of making Real Estate your career.

So – now that we have got the positives out the way! (my little joke)  Lets ask the next big question:

Why are you choosing Real Estate As A Career Option?

Answer: Money?  (really?)

The perception is (especially here in Malta – but to be fair most places) Real Estate Agents make loads of cash and do very little work.  What’s not to love?

Oh Oh…I’m going to break this to you very gently, are you sitting down? That concept is just WRONG.

Day one…

In most case’s let’s just imagine you have started day one with your new High Street Agency.  Training for a few weeks, (I hope!) Then ‘shadowing’ an experienced Agent…The Big Day arrives and you are on your own – let the good times roll!

I’m going to be kind – lets for argument sake, say that in your first week, you have a great property already on the company books and you take the call from an interested viewer.  So, arrange a viewing – what a Sunday morning ?? Your time will be setting up appointments, confirming appointments, driving to viewing, perhaps collecting the viewer as they don’t have a car – and yes they live in Mellieha, the property is in Zurrieq…

3 months…

In the meantime – you have to find new properties, take phone calls, talk to people.  Sunday arrives, the viewing takes place – they are not sure – what else you got? More talking….talk talk talk.  (remember you said you liked people) This goes on for weeks.  NO MONEY That’s 1 month gone…talk talk talk.  Phone calls, driving, viewing, talking, emails, follow-ups, chasing clients. 2 Months are gone – NO MONEY. It’s the weekend the sun is out – friends are off to the beach; you have viewings all day Saturday – NO MONEY. 3 Months…
Do you get the picture?  You have just worked at least 400 hours, you’ve paid the petrol, your rent, you’ve  fed yourself – you’re probably living off  ‘pastizzi’ and office coffee.  NO MONEY.  You may be lucky, the firm you work for may offer a stipend, a little cash to keep you going, until that BIG CHEQUE lands.  (they may want it paid back remember)

6 months…

FINALLY – a Buyer Makes an Offer – It’s accepted! – HALLELUJAH – REJOICE. – Ah..wait a 6 month Konvenju period? – before you get ANY MONEY…

Let’s Do Some SUMS:  You have just worked for 3 Months – It’s possibly going to be another 6 months before real money hits your bank account.  Still Loving The Real Estate?

The property you sold was €250,000.  The company you work for charges 5% Agency Fee – That = €12.500 YIPPEE!!! (Hang ON Hang ON!) You will get a fraction of that – 30%? 40%? 50%?

30% = €3,750

40% = €5,000

50% = €6,250

9 months…

It’s been 9 months….at 50% You have just earned €694.44 cents per month.  Minus, any stipend to the company, minus any borrowing from family. Do you get the idea?  I’ll let you do your own sums if you are on a 30% bonus.  (Don’t cry)

If You Can Handle This Truth …Read On!

As I mentioned at the start – you do not need any particular skill set to be a Real Estate Agent. But you do need Tenacity, Grit, and Determination.  You have to be Confident, Personable, and most of all you have to be Competent. You will only succeed long term, if you are ethical in your dealings, and prepared to put every hour of your time into your business.  Effectively you are your own Boss and that in itself is very attractive.  But being your own boss means being your own secretary, your own appointment maker, your own bookkeeper.  That holiday you promised yourself – when you have a ‘sure fire deal on the table’ – time to choose.

Now anyone would think I am trying to Put You Off from becoming a Real Estate Agent – Not SO!  I just want to highlight the realities of the industry.

I Absolutely Love My Job.  I’m great at what I do, I have created something different here on the Island and I know that this Job was meant for me – (I hope so – I’ve been involved with property for decades!) However, in truth not many people are the same.  Just look at the coming and goings of different names in property portals on the internet.  The constant ‘Wanted’ ads placed by High Street Agencies (Does this mean ‘new’ positions and expansion – sure sometimes; or more likely, staff turnover?).

To be in with a chance of success, you will have to be super organised, super positive, super special.

Getting over your first 12 months is an accomplishment – and that is what it will take: 12 Months – NO MONEY.  Year 2 – some money. Year 3, you may just become a Real Estate Agent after all.

If you still think this is the industry for you then I Stand Up and Applaud. Congratulations – (prove me wrong…?)

Now you may not believe this – But This Article is a recruitment advert – If you still have what it takes (re above!) Get in touch.  I’m interested to hear what you have to say.

As we are HomeSaleMalta.com we offer something a little different to the High Street Agencies.

Julie Mckenzie.
Owner HomeSaleMalta.com
Owner www.SanMartin.properties

Alice in Regoland

alice-wonderland

‘Alice in Regoland’ – Public Interest Regulation in Malta’s Property Industry

In Lewis Carroll’s children’s story ‘Through the Looking Glass’, the White Queen explains to Alice “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards”; other writers have expressed a similar sentiment – essentially that those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it; and generally they mean,  not in a good way!

I have been watching with some interest recent discussions on how the Maltese Government proposes to ‘regulate’ the buying and selling of property, and I have to declare an interest: well actually two interests – firstly in terms of the concept of ‘professional regulation’ and secondly in terms of the property sector in Malta.  You see, I am currently a Director in Malta’s first truly on-line Real Estate Agency HomeSaleMalta.com. But in my previous career I have had more than a fleeting involvement in ‘regulation’ – for years I worked in what we in the U.K. called ‘Regoland’.

As I will expand on later when I point out some lessons I have learned, I have had three regulatory roles; Regulating police forces. Setting up a Healthcare super-regulator in the UK and helping to set up a new regulatory body for Barristers in England and Wales.  The sectors might sound quite diverse, but the features of regulation had a lot in common so have a relevance as we consider how best to deal with the property sector in Malta. (Although as an old lady said in a film I watched last night, ” I don’t give advice, but I do have opinions”.)

The concept of Professional Regulation has a very long history – in most countries; for example Doctors started  ‘Self Regulating’  well over 100 years ago; but the development of ‘Public Interest Regulation’ is a much more recent phenomenon, grown out of fears that ‘Self Regulation’ wasn’t objective enough to adequately protect the public interest, or at least that was the public perception. 

So What’s a ‘Profession’

In broad terms a profession is an occupation in which an individual uses skills based on an established body of knowledge and practice to provide a specialised service in a defined area, exercising independent judgement in accordance with a code of ethics and, ideally, in the public interest.  So in terms of the property business, you can sell or buy your home entirely on your own; and many people do so – however, if you choose to use the services of a ‘professional’ there should be some measures in place to give you comfort that the person you are entrusting with this important transaction is competent and trustworthy and in fact is acting in YOUR interests (not just their own).

In a self-regulated profession, the professionals agree entry standards (who can join), training standards (what they need to know to be effective), performance standards (what’s expected of them), a disciplinary process (how to complain and how it will be processed) and sanctions (being struck off the register of having conditions or limitations put on what you can do etc).  The disquiet about this was that essentially then a profession could investigate complaints against its members, have members prosecute a discipline case, have other members sit in judgement and decide on the sanction.

So the first phase in development from self regulation to public interest regulation was to start including ‘lay members’ – people who were not member of that profession – to have roles in the investigation or decisions on prosecution or sit on hearing panels.  As this developed there was a call for further separation of these functions so now in many professions we find totally separate complaints and discipline bodies whose role is to act ‘in the PUBLIC INTEREST’.

Public Interest Regulation

My first foray into regulation was when I was a Chief Police Officer in Scotland and was appointed as Inspector of Constabulary – checking up on how 8 wholly constitutionally independent Chief Constables policed their areas; this was a public interest oversight role and to make clear that I was independent of both Government and the Police Service, I was appointed by the Queen, and my ‘badge’ was her crest not a police one.  I might have been appointed to be totally independent – but I was overseeing organisations I had been part of for over 25 years; so from a public perspective was I truly independent and could they have trust I was acting in their interests?  The push for independent oversight has since resulted in the creation of an Independent Police Investigations and Review Commissioner in Scotland.  The Police Inspectorate still oversees how police forces operate, but the PIRC provides the objective independent public interest oversight and remediation.

In England in 2002 there was a Public Inquiry in to the tragic deaths of a number of children in heart operations at Bristol Royal Infirmary.  The outcome was a decision by the Government to establish a new ‘super-regulator’ (CHRE, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence) to oversee the conduct of the 9 established healthcare regulators (Doctors, Dentists, Nurses, Pharmacists, Opticians etc).

In 2003 I was appointed as this new Body’s first Director and had the job of setting it up from scratch.  The 9 regulators had different operating models – all had Lay involvement (i.e Board or Panel members who were not members of the profession) in their complaints and discipline processes, but when you looked at their discipline outcomes, on occasions (not that many occasions it has to be said) it seemed that they had been too ‘understanding’ of the professionals actions and less focussed on the patients interests.  Actually they were doing a reasonably good job in regulating their professions – but importantly had lost some public confidence through various ‘scandals’ – so one of the main values of the independent oversight was re-establishing trust, trust that there was an independent oversight of the professions by a body whose whole raison-d’etre was acting in the PUBLIC INTEREST. Things have progressed even from there and now CHRE has been morphed into the current Professional Standards Authority for health and social care (https://www.professionalstandards.org.uk/) but the role remains fundamentally the same – independent oversight of professions in the public interest.

While I was at CHRE the UK Government decided that the legal professions – Solicitors and Barristers should also be subject to independent oversight and scrutiny, with a similar approach to injecting lay involvement and independence into their complaints and discipline process; so I was appointed as a Lay Member to help set up the Bar Standards Board – the new regulatory body for Barristers in England and Wales.  There was an undercurrent of opposition from a small number of members of the profession that things were fine as they were and that ‘market forces’ made sure that only good Barristers earned enough money to stay in business – which may well have been fine for the wealthy or the corporations who could choose the best and pay accordingly, but not for those less fortunate who could afford the less busy (often less able) to act for them.  Barristers and Solicitors in England and Wales now both have independent regulatory bodies – the Bar Standards Board (https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/) the Solicitors Regulation  Authority (https://www.sra.org.uk/home/home.page)

From my involvement in regulation in these different sectors, I have a number of key ‘opinions’ which might shed some light on the current debate in Malta about how the property sector  should be overseen or regulated.

It is fundamental that the oversight system gives the public confidence that their agents are trustworthy, have sufficient understanding of the sector to represent their interests and are acting in their interests (not just self-interest).  There needs to be standards set for behaviour, entitlement to practice, and a viable complaints and discipline set up to deal with the situation when things don’t go well

Professional Self-Regulation works best if there is independent oversight to ensure that things are being done properly – often within a profession well meaning professionals are too close to the business – and other members –  to be properly objective about how that meets the public interest test

A transparent complaints handling and credible disciplinary system are needed to retain public trust; and the bodies doing that should have a Lay Majority i.e more than 50% of the members of an independent complaints authority should be people who are not members of that profession – that is what helps reassure the public that it’s a public interest system. In my experience generally ALL members of such oversight boards are committed to the public interest, so the 51% lay majority is a symbolic gesture to confirm to the public it is not led by the profession.

There is a cost in establishing an oversight infrastructure, but again in my experience this is minimal as the professional and Lay members involved are usually happy to undertake this role on a pro-bono basis out of a desire to secure public benefit.  As I recall when we set up the Bar Standards Board, the cost to professionals was less than if they had wanted to be registered Gas installation engineers.

I would urge those who are discussing how best we should regulate the property sector in Malta to have a look at the links I have provided above – there is a clear chronology: professional self-regulation to at least provide some basic protection that those professing to be a professional at least have the basic qualifications and skills and trustworthiness to allow them to operate, then external oversight by a body that has some power to intervene if the profession isn’t operating properly, then independent investigatory and complaints and discipline body to secure the public interest.  In many professions that nowadays benefit from effective Public Interest Regulation, the journey from self-regulation to that has taken 100 years – here in Malta we don’t actually need to start at the beginning; we can learn from the journey that has been taken by others.

I will end with another quote from Lewis Carroll where Alice asks the Cheshire Cat for directions:

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“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” 

Most regulation introduction has been ‘prompted’ by ‘scandal’ – So, whether in the real estate sector or the Notary Public sector; lets have a clear direction, and lets start from where others have left off, not back at the beginning.

Sandy Forrest

B.A; CMILT; FRSA.

Linkedin; Sandy Forrest (General Manager National Security & Resilience ATOS)

oscar

“Cecil Graham: What is a cynic?
Lord Darlington: “A man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”
Cecil Graham: “And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything and doesn’t know the market price of any single thing.”

Will New Law Reveal the True State of Property Prices in Malta?

This blog post is a response to the article titled ‘Reporting changes may improve property statistics’ dated 21 May 2015 and published on Times of Malta. (Link)

So what do you think your house is worth? The old adage is that its worth what someone else is prepared to pay for it; and probably the most objective form of that is what someone has JUST PAID for it. Then it’s a fact not an aspiration. We also need to be clear that in the housing market (unlike perhaps a work of art or a piece of literature) we are really only concerned with the objective issue of PRICE rather than the abstract concept of ‘value’.

The problem here in Malta is that as far as house prices are concerned, official statistics are not based on this objective figure of ‘what someone has just paid for it’, but on a survey of ‘ADVERTISED PRICES’ which really means what the seller thinks or hopes they can get for it, not what they actually will.

When deciding on the right price for your property – what do you base that on? Ideally it should be the ‘comparators’ – the price that houses of a similar type, size and quality located in a similar neighbourhood have recently sold for. But in Malta that is the underlying challenge – since all you have to compare your house to is; the advertised prices of similar houses, not the real prices being achieved.

While advertised prices may be an interesting statistic, it can also become a self-fulfilling prophesy! So as you read ‘house prices have risen by 3%’ the presumption is that your house is now worth 3% more and so should be advertised at this new higher value – an inflationary spiral of expectations! Also, a crucial piece of information in determining whether the market is stable or whether it’s in speculative bubble-mode is the gap between advertised and realised prices.

One of the major risks at present, should there be an adjustment in the housing market, is the possibility of buyers, particularly young first time buyers, ending up in a ‘negative equity’ situation – where the price they can subsequently sell their house for is less than the mortgage they owe. Instead of having a deposit for their next house, they have to find cash to clear the gap caused by the negative equity.

Here at HomeSaleMalta.com our business model is to help sellers decide on a realistic price which will then attract the buyers they want, leading to effective sale of the property. Often we find sellers have, initially, an unrealistic understanding of the appropriate ‘price’ for their property based on their understanding of house ‘values’ as seen advertised (with many of these advertised properties having been on the market for years because no one is prepared to actually pay that price); or official statistics on house price growth based on a similar approach to valuation.
Plans are now in place to change this – with effect from 1 July, the price they have paid for their new abode will be declared.

So is the new system going to sort the problem? – we at HomeSaleMalta.com think that while it will help, there are a few features that could be improved.

For starters, when LN 147/2015 is enacted, only the 90 or so estate agents – who only account for about two-thirds of the market – will be bound to report transaction information.

Property sold direct or brokered by other third-parties will not be included in annual statistics, thus the information we’ll have in hand eventually will still be far from definitive.

Secondly, since the old taxation system used to give the option of either paying capital gains tax (CGT) or FWT, there is less incentive to inaccurately represent the price as the seller would then have to pay more CGT.

With the phasing out of CGT, the FWT system could motivate vendors to report lower prices to pay less tax. It all depends on whether the stakeholders involved choose to provide the accurate details about the price paid.

Surely the final ‘reporting’ of any property transaction should be with the Notary Public? Should it not be they and not an Estate Agent (representing only 1/3rd of transactions) who is responsible for logging every accurate transaction?

You see, if we don’t ALL chip in – agents, notaries, policymakers and vendors – to make sure our industry is based on solid accurate information, instead of focusing on seeing how far we can stretch prices, the industry will inevitably snap back to ‘correct’ itself: leading to many would-be buyers out-priced from the market and the ‘spectre’ of ‘negative equity’ a reality.

A quick overview

We round off our overview of the Three Villages (check out our spotlights on Attard and Balzan) by dedicating February’s locality of the month article to the village of Lija.

Although it’s one of the smallest municipalities in Malta with a population just topping 3,000 residents, Lija can boast a long history that stretches back to prehistoric times.

Lija map
Though centrally located and heavily urbanised, Lija retains its charming old village core complete with narrow winding streets and gardens.

The village is a popular choice with people looking to settle down in peaceful and quiet surroundings that are served with all amenities.

Within its small precincts, Lija manages to squeeze in venerable villas with sprawling gardens as well as cutting-edge apartments that attract a diversity of homeowners.

History

The present village borders were drawn after Lija was given parish status in the late 16th century. Like Attard and Balzan it was previously part of Birkirkara, having broken off soon after Attard became an independent parish.

Lija used to incorporate two smaller hamlets, Ħal Bordi and Ħal Mann, in its perimeters. These were gradually integrated as the increasing pace of urbanisation encroached on the vast swathes of fields that used to demarcate the borders between these different localities.

Lija flag
The village of Lija is historically linked with citrus fruits and hosts the annual Maltese Citrus Festival. Its motto in fact is: ‘With tasty fruits I blossom’.

Over the years, Lija was the hometown for many distinguished Maltese families who built large country residences. The village’s rich history can also be appreciated in the baroque parish church which houses several important artworks and other chapels that dot the surroundings.

Another architectural landmark can be found just opposite the parish church. The Belveder is a solitary tower with nowadays serves as a roundabout, but back then used to be part of the garden of the nearby Villa Guigion Depiro.

Lija's Belveder Tower
Lija’s Belveder Tower

Main attractions

Lija is characterised by an eclectic urban feel that changes suddenly from rustic to modern in a matter of a few neighbourhoods. Narrow, winding streets snake out from the village core to merge into wide and busy thoroughfares that connect some of Malta’s largest economic centres.

Lija is best known for its famous pyrotechnics that light up the night sky during the village feast on the 6th of August. Thousands of locals and tourists visit the village during the festa season to admire the firework display and enjoy a traditional Maltese religious celebration.

Residents enjoy easy access to schools, public transport and other amenities. Thanks to Lija’s proximity to Birkirkara and Mosta, homeowners can easily reach the shopping districts in these areas. The village also boasts a number of quaint cafès and bars that can be enjoyed during the day to escape the heat or to wind down before or after an evening stroll through the quiet streets.

A report published recently in the UK shows that homeownership among young people has declined sharply. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the days when home buyers were mainly young couples getting ready to settle down are over.

In fact, the proportion of home buyers under 35 years of age has fallen to just under 43% in recent years. Only one tenth of millennials between 16 and 24 years old own property in the UK nowadays, compared to nearly a third in the early 1990s.

In contrast, home ownership has increased steadily among the older age groups since the early eighties. In 2011-12, people aged 65 to 74 years old in the UK accounted for over three quarters of homeowners.

Marketing to an older generation of home buyers

The statistics above reflect the realities of the housing market in the UK, however it’s a good thing for Maltese home sellers to stay abreast of local and international housing trends and make sure they’re not caught unaware by them.

In my opinion, the situation in the UK teaches home sellers in Malta, and the people they trust to market their property, two important lessons.

The first lesson is to become more sensitive to the needs of a more experienced and sophisticated crop of buyers. The second lesson is that sellers need to ensure the property they intend to sell is attractive to people of all ages, especially for older buyers.

More experienced and sophisticated buyers are looking at your property

According to the ONS, first-time buyers in the UK peaked in number almost thirty years ago. Nowadays, a growing number of people turning up for home viewings are seasoned homeowners who are either looking to upgrade or downsize their homes as they mature in life.

What this means to home sellers and real estate agents is that they need to engage with these buyers in a way that aligns with their intentions, as well as respects their knowledge about the home buying process.

Unlike first-time buyers, mature buyers tend to have a clearer idea of what they want and aren’t keen on wasting time in acquiring it. They’re also more likely to be able to afford property in higher price brackets, but only if they can ascertain beyond doubt that the property will fit with their lifestyle.

Sellers must start taking extra care to age-proof their property

As the profile of the typical homeowner experiences a major generation shift upwards, sellers must ensure that property can adequately cater for the needs of older people in order to maximise their chances of selling their homes.

Older people are likely to be more aware of their physical limitations and will double-check that a house poses no problems to their day-to-day living before deciding to move in.

These concerns also extend to the psychosocial aspects of homeownership. Older buyers are more conscious of the need for peace and privacy in their homes, however without sacrificing convenience.

Sellers owning property located in green areas or city outskirts, which nonetheless enjoy excellent access to amenities, should promote these characteristics more heavily as the key value propositions of their offering.

A perfect storm of economic and cultural forces

As the housing markets in the UK, Malta and Europe in general become more dynamic, it is more important than ever to keep a close eye on learning points from foreign markets that can be applied to the local scenario. This must be done in order to preempt any changes when they inevitably hit our shores.

Additionally, we at HomeSaleMalta.com like to encourage our clients to think globally and position the property they’re selling in Malta as an ideal home for international buyers, whose experience of house ownership is coloured by what they experience in their country of origin.

But what about our plucky millennials? According to the same ONS study, rising house prices seems to be the major factor discouraging them from owning a home early in life, along with increasing deposits.

This is very similar to what is happening in Malta, as more young people are seeking rental property, leaving sellers and agents with a harder job to market homeownership to them.

Simple advice that will make moving into you new house easy, enjoyable and carefree

Owning a house brings a lot of joy to the new residents, however, for some it isn’t always easy to shake off the feeling that someone else used to live inside the property before their family moved into it.

For most people, homes are a sacred repository of personal memories and experiences. As strange as it may sound, entering a space that has been inhabited for a long time by strangers can make new homeowners feel a bit uneasy.

Keys to settling into new home

How to settle quickly into your new house

There are two types of home ownership. There’s the legal kind which comes into effect when you sign the final deed and which is thus conferred onto you instantly, at the stroke of a pen.

Then there’s the personal sense of home ownership. This is more complex because it takes time and effort. Basically, it can be described as the psychological effect of the sum-total of experiences which you go through whilst living in your new home.

These experiences forge an emotional and intellectual bond with your new property, which gradually becomes almost a part of yourself.

The five proven steps listed below are excellent strategies which you can use to accelerate this process, making it easier for you and your family to settle into your new home.

1 – Personalise your new living space

You can fill your new home with memories even though you haven’t been living there for more than a few days.

Put photographs of yourself, family, friends and important events in places where they are easily visible. Stack the shelves with books or trophies and decorate your house with souvenirs from your travels.

A fresh lick of paint or new wallpaper will not only make your new home feel ‘yours’, but also allow you to engage physically with your new environment.

2 – Get to know your neighbourhood

Take a walk around the neighbourhood and note the things that are similar or different from the place where you lived previously. Remind yourself why you’ve chosen to come live in this particular town or neighbourhood.

Depending on your personality, getting to know your new neighbours might be either an exciting or intimidating prospect. Anyways, resolve at the very least to greet them and start recognising the familiar faces in your neighbourhood.

You might never actually invite each other over to dinner like they do in the movies, but even a little effort at socialising with others helps ground you as an element in the wider community.

3 – Pay attention to the needs of the little ones

Children often have the hardest time to get used to new surroundings. Spend time with your little ones, help them decorate their bedrooms or certain areas of their new home and–to the extent they’re able to– let them help you in selecting new furniture or accessories.

If there’s a play area nearby, this could be a great way to get children to connect with their new environment and make new friends their age. Similarly, you get to meet other moms and dads living in your neighbourhood at the playground and start building your own circle of local acquaintances and friends.

4 – Throw a grand housewarming party

When your new home is fully decorated and the paint job has dried, invite your friends over for a housewarming party.

As we mentioned before, the quality of your personal home ownership is closely related to the experiences you’ve had in your new house. So go ahead and create a couple of really good ones as soon as you move in!

A housewarming party is the perfect modern ritual to let yourself and the world at large know that you’re queen or king of this particular castle.

5 – Kick back and relax

When everybody’s left, and it’s time to put away leftovers and lower the volume of the music, sit back on a comfy sofa or chair, preferably with a glass of wine or other tasty beverage you prefer in hand, and listen carefully.

Each neighbourhood has its own rhythms and routines. Over the day and throughout the night, you’ll pick up certain sounds and movements that occur with almost clockwork precision.

There’s the sputtering of car engines in the morning as adults prepare to go to work and the honking of minivans’ horns that come to pick up schoolchildren at the crack of dawn.

Later in the day, you’ll notice the whirring sound of a postman’s motorcycle, or the din a refuse collector or street vendor makes when they drive by. If there’s a church close by you’ll begin to recognise a pattern in the pealing of bells, and on and on.

It’s the pulse of the community you live in. And even without being aware of it you eventually, inevitably, become part of it.

There are many way to settle down in a new home

The home serves as a backdrop to nearly all of life’s various events; the space between its walls is both physical and psychological.

There are no right or wrong ways how you can make yourself feel at home in your own home. However, the five strategies listed above can serve as a universal groundwork on which you can build your foundations of personal home ownership.

Did you or your family ever find it difficult to settle into a new home? What did you do to overcome this feeling of unease and how long did it take you to overcome it? Feel free to share your suggestions and experiences with our readers in the comments section below.

Here today, gone tomorrow. Whilst most homes take a bit longer to sell, sellers who have listed their homes on HomeSaleMalta.com managed to get offers from interested buyers in a remarkably short time. Recently, a property that had been on the market for 3 years had an offer just 21 days after it was listed on our site!

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After a prolonged slump, the property market in Malta has picked up steam again and sellers are finally reporting more activity by buyers who want to purchase a new home. If you have a home that has been sitting on the market for too long, or you’re thinking of listing your home and have can’t wait to get started on your next chapter in life, you have one thing in common: you both need to find a buyer FAST.

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In this article we take a look at five practical tips that will greatly improve the odds of cutting down the time it takes to sell a home.

First of all, you’ll need to ensure that you or your agent exploit to the full the opportunities which online marketing gives sellers. A closely related point is to use the power of multimedia. Recruit your neighbours in your search for a buyer. Turn your home into a canvas for your buyers’ dreams (make sure you read this one! – Julie). Finally, get real on your pricing strategy.

Let’s look at each point in further detail.

1 – Take online marketing seriously

The absolute majority of homebuyers start hunting for their new home online. They will consider or exclude your listing depending on how well it is presented online.

A study by Trulia found that home listings that had more than 6 photos attracted the attention of twice as many prospective buyers than those that have left. Make sure you or your agent know how to use online marketing well and your chances of selling fast will go through the roof.

As an online agency, HomeSaleMalta.com lives and breathes online real estate marketing.

Contact us if you want to find out more about how we achieve our incredible results and how we can do the same for your property.

2 – Harness the power of multimedia listings

If pictures have such a massive influence on would-be buyers then you can only imagine but an impression a detailed video listing would make. Flip out your iPhone or digital camera and give your buyers a guided tour of your home: tell (and show!) them the story behind why you chose to live in this home in the first place and explain all the great things they can do in your neighbourhood.

3 – Recruit your neighbours to help you in your search

Your neighbours should have be as much interest in your buyer as you do! If you’re on friendly terms with your neighbours bring them over during a viewing and introduce them to your buyer: it will help establish a more personal bond between the buyer and the property, as well as lend you more credibility as a seller.

4 – De-personalise and de-clutter your home

This may sound be like an unusual suggestion at first, but hear it out. One of the key tactics to close any kind of sale is by making the buyer feel like they already own the product (or property) even before they purchased it.

By taking out things from your home that identify it as yours, you’ll help your buyers visualise the house as being their home, something they’d otherwise have a lot of difficulty to do if there are personal items strewn about the place which mark the territory as yours and yours only.

Pretend you’re moving out and de-clutter your home from family photos, personal artefacts and other memorabilia that would intrude in the buyer’s imagination. Besides making the property seem cleaner, more organised and more spacious, you also just made your moving out process a whole lot easier.

NOTE: While suggesting that you do remove your personal belongings from your home, it is also a good idea to stage the interior of the house with things that are considered universally appealing.

Fresh flowers, the smell of baked goods and a cosy fireplace are things that everybody is attracted to and may actually stimulate the buyers to start visualising your property as their home more intensely.

5 – Choose a realistic price by studying your competition

We left the most obvious tip for last. Set a realistic price. Oftentimes, the single factor that keeps a property in the market for years is that sellers choose an unreasonable price for their property, which happens either because they don’t know any better or because they’re too greedy.

Study your competition well and let the market guide you towards a sensible price range. There are volumes of publications and online databases listing thousands of properties for sale in Malta and Gozo which you can read for free and draw your conclusions.

Select properties that closely resemble yours and check their prices. Find out if there are any significant differences between prices in your neighbourhood and in other parts of the islands. Once you’ve established a realistic price bracket for your property add a premium to it based on your property’s conditions.

If you want to increase the value of your home, consider refurbishing or upgrading its features and then make a point of emphasising these renovations in listings or during viewings.

In conclusion

Remember to follow the five tips listed in this article when you list your next home. If you’re already in the market start using these tips straight away and boost your chances of getting an offer on your property from an interested buyer.

Have you sold property before? How long did it take before you got the offer that led to your last transaction. Use the comments section below to share your opinions, ideas and suggestions about property selling in Malta and Gozo, and share stories from the trenches with our readers.

We’re excited to announce that our sister site – HomeRentMalta.com – is now live!

Just like HomeSaleMalta.com opened the doors to a whole new way of selling and buying property online in Malta, HomeRentMalta.com aims to make it easier than ever for good landlords to find the perfect tenants to live in their rental homes.

HomeRentMalta.com for Landlords

Landlords have to face a lot of mistrust in the current Maltese rental climate. A lot of honest landlords who care deeply about their tenants have to take the flak because of a few rogue ones that don’t.

Through HomeRentMalta.com we’re giving a chance for great landlords to shine and advertise their property to interested, pre-qualified and highly motivated tenants. Landlords list for FREE and can add any of our premium services for extra convenience, including:

  • Pre-prepared leases
  • Tenant reference and credit checks
  • Having our professionals visit their properties to take all the necessary photos and write descriptions

HomeRentMalta.com for Tenants

For tenants, HomeRentMalta.com takes out the guesswork that finding a place to rent usually entails. We highlight landlords who have proven themselves to be high integrity individuals; our ‘symbol of excellence’ is a guarantee that you’ll be given receipts upon payment of rent and that you won’t be ripped off by unfair utility bills or unclear terms in your lease.

Tenants in Malta and Gozo can browse through our database of rental property completely FREE of charge and get in touch directly with landlords to have their questions answered.

HomeRentMalta.com for Letting Agents

We’re also opening up our databases to real estate agents. If you’re a letting agent you can quickly increase the number of interested people who see your listings by uploading them on our website.

Letting agents can list as many properties on HomeRentMalta.com as they want  – FREE – and we will eventually roll out a suite of premium tools that will help you promote your listings more effectively on our platform.

Packed with rental guides and resources

Just like we did on HomeSaleMalta.com, we’ve packed HomeRentMalta.com chock-full of useful guides and articles that analyse every aspect of the Maltese rental market.

The HomeRentMalta.com blog is the ultimate resource for both landlords and tenants looking for the best advice to get the most out of their interests in rental property – whether for living in it or as a profitable source of residual income.

Connect on social media

We take online very seriously and we intend to exploit every possible method to promote your listing on the internet.

HomeRentMalta.com is on all major social media outlets and fans are flocking to connect and stay up-to-date with the latest rental property listings in Malta and Gozo and the hottest rental property news. You can connect with us on the links below:

FACEBOOK: Like the HomeRentMalta.com page on Facebook.

TWITTER: Follow HomeRentMalta.com on Twitter.

Visit our new website

Check out HomeRentMalta.com and discover all the online services we’re offering landlords, tenants and letting agents in Malta and Gozo. We believe that good landlords and good tenants are out there – our goal is to match them together through our website!

I can’t believe it’s been 7 months already since I wrote the first blog post here on HomeSaleMalta.com.

My goal then was to outline our mission to become the first truly online real estate agency in Malta and Gozo and help buyers and sellers save 1000s of euros on commissions and other unnecessary fees they were forking out on their property transactions.

I was told that the Maltese are usually hesitant to try new ways and ideas, and that the local property market especially was one where attitudes were quite literally ‘set in stone’.

Not known for backing down from a good challenge I ploughed on nevertheless. Surely, people would see that HomeSaleMalta.com was the logical way to market and sell property in the 21st century!

Goodbye high street, hello cyberspace!

Our way of doing business is based on the philosophy that your property deserves to get maximum exposure to potential buyers–wherever they are. Your a typical high-street agency will keep sellers’ details and addresses behind lock-and-key and act as a barrier between buyers and sellers.

HomeSaleMalta.com on the other hand works hard to liberate sellers by amplifying the amount of exposure they get on their properties using every physical and digital avenue available.

We realise that in today’s super-connected world, our jobs isn’t to be merely brokers of property, but connectors of people with people and of people with the information they need to make a wise home buying or selling decision.

Thank goodness we didn’t listen to the naysayers! As I mentioned previously, I was absolutely convinced that homeowners in Malta and Gozo would respond positively to our unique offering, but I had no idea HOW positive their feedback would be!

Comments from satisfied clients who sold their properties in months after listing on HomeSaleMalta.com despite having been in the market for years began pouring in shortly after opening our doors back in June 2014. I’ve chosen some of the comments I received to share with you as testimonials on this post.

“I would really like to give you a review for the fantastic service you provide. I’m sure this project will be a very successful one for you as the Maltese real estate market really needs customer service-orientated people such as yourself.”

  • “I work in customer services myself so I’m not the type of person to offer compliments unless I believe the service is worth it and I’m honestly pleasantly impressed by your service. Wish you the best of luck.”
  • “Thank you so much for the quick response. Keep up the good work.
  • “Thanks Julie, well done! Lovely website and Facebook page.
  • “Finally someone who ‘gets’ the real estate market.”

Isn’t it wonderful to read the words of people – sellers in Malta and Gozo – who were finally able to sell their properties, quickly, hassle-free and commission-free, and then use that money to:

  • Upgrade to a new and bigger home for them and their growing family to enjoy together;
  • Move to a smaller space and pamper themselves with some well-earned travel and rest after many years’ of hard-work;
  • Invest in their own and their children’s future, giving them extra security and peace of mind?

HomeSaleMalta.com is glad to be part of these success stories that are happening everywhere in Malta and Gozo when the right sellers and right buyers come together through to our website.

We’ve also learnt that if there’s one thing Maltese sellers and buyers appreciate above all else is exceptional customer service. And why should YOU settle for less?

Here at HomeSaleMalta.com we’re receiving feedback via email or on social media all the time from people congratulating us on doing a “fabulous job” and thanking us “for responding so quickly.”

We’re determined to keep delivering a high standard of customer service and continue offering a service that is built around your needs and aspirations – whether you’re planning to list your property on our website or searching for the ideal home to purchase.

HELP US OFFER YOU AN EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE

  • What are your biggest gripes with the process selling and buying property in Malta and Gozo?
  • Do you have any horror stories about property selling or buying which you would like to share with our readers?

Share your comments and feedback in the comments section below or by sending us an email on: enquiries@homesalemalta.com