Can I ask you a question?

Do you know what the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is all about?

Most people I ask that question to give me a blank stare. Yet, the EPC – or more technically, the Energy Performance Building Directive, has been part of Maltese law since 2008 (L.N. 261), and enforced from 2010.

This piece of legislation is aimed at regulating the minimum energy performance requirements in buildings. It gives owners, prospective buyers, or tenants the ability to find out how energy-efficient their home is, what they can do to make it perform better and save money, as well as compare a property’s energy performance with other properties they are considering to build, buy or rent.

Unfortunately, as it so often happens over here, there was little follow-up to ensure that this law is implemented well and that all dwellings in Malta get certified. Sooner or later, the EU will come down hard on the authorities and demand that they pull up their socks and start doing something about.

Before that happens, make sure you know all about the Energy Performance Certificate, how to get your building certified and avoid the hefty fines for non-compliant property owners.

What the EPC is

Starting from the 2nd of January 2009, an Energy Performance Certificate had to be issued for all residential buildings which had to be newly designed, sold or rented out.

An EPC is similar to the energy labels you find on household electrical appliances except that it rates the efficiency of buildings instead, using a scale where zero is the most energy efficient and the other extreme being the least efficient.

Domestic-EPC-No-Letting-Go

In essence, the EPC is a three-page report which describes the energy performance of a specific dwelling and gives it a score in terms of energy performance and CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions.

The certificate also provides a number of recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of the property, as well as pinpoints all the causes of energy wastage and expensive bills.

An EPC can only be issued by qualified Energy Performance Assessors for Buildings (EPB Assessors), who are either architects or engineers.

Let’s take a closer look at the actual certificate, page by page.

Page 1

On the front page of the EPC, you’ll find the dwelling details as well as the name of the Assessor and the energy use and CO2 emissions scores for that building.

Energy Performance Certicate of Dwellings Malta
Credit: epbd-ca.org

 

  • Energy Use – measured in kilowatt-hours per square metre per year – indicates the typical amount of energy needed to live comfortably in that building. The lower the value, the more efficient the dwelling and the cheaper your energy bills will be.
  • CO2 emissions – measured in kilograms of carbon dioxide per square metre per year – is an indication of how much carbon dioxide emissions are produced each year to generate the amount of energy consume by that household. The lower the score, the more environmentally-friendly your home is.

Page 2

The real benefit of the EPC, in my opinion, are the recommendations given on the second page of the document. These include suggested improvements to reduce energy use, things like installing better insulation, low flush toilets, low energy lighting and so on.

Credit: epbd-ca.org
Credit: epbd-ca.org

An assessor will also include a cost estimate for implementing these recommendations, as well as the calculated energy savings if all the measures were implemented.

Have you read these HomeSaleMalta.com articles about how to cut down on your home energy bills TODAY?

Simple ways to shrink your energy bills today

How to keep your home warm during a Maltese winter

Home insulation in Malta

These recommendations are all drawn up specifically for the building that has been certified, however, the owner is not obliged by law to implement any of the recommended improvements.

Page 3

The third and final page is the most technical part and includes a detailed description of all the materials, building fabric components, services installations and renewable energy sources that affect the rating of the building.

Credit: epbd-ca.org
Credit: epbd-ca.org

The owner of a house or his/her agent should have the Certificate drawn up by a registered EPC Assessor when a building is constructed, sold, rented out or when a major renovation/alteration is being carried out.

How to get your residence certified

The owner of a building has the responsibility of engaging a registered assessor to carry out an inspection on the energy rating of a dwelling and obtain an EPC.

The assessor will inspect the property and assess the building taking note of its volume, surface areas, and party wall perimeters, the type of construction material used, air conditioning or boiler installations, the lighting installation, the hot water system and any systems using renewable sources of energy including rainwater reuse.

Main Elements of Energy Performance Assessment of a Dwelling Credit: Malta Intelligent Energy Management Agency (MIEMA)
Main Elements of Energy Performance Assessment of a Dwelling
Credit: Malta Intelligent Energy Management Agency (MIEMA)

Note that the EPC must be registered with the Building Regulation Office by the assessor before being given to the person who commissioned it.

A list of registered of Energy Performance Assessors for Buildings is available here.

Once an EPC for a dwelling place is registered it shall remain valid for 10 years, unless major renovations or alterations to the building take place.

Important legal obligations

The owner is required by law to provide an EPC to the prospective buyer or tenant within the period of the promise of sale or at the time of signing of the sale agreement, or rent agreement.

The EPC should be provided to potential buyers or tenants so that they may be informed on how much energy is required to live comfortably in that particular building and be able to compare with other properties they are considering.

Under Maltese legislation, the building owner is responsible for commissioning an EPC and if he or she fails to produce the certificate to the authorities, when requested to do so, they can incur a fine between €500 and €5,000

More information

You can find more information on Energy Performance Certification in Malta and learn about the different types of assessors and inspectors, as well as the types of certification by clicking on the link below. A directory of registered assessors is also available.

Links

epc.gov.mt

Read related articles on HomeSaleMalta.com

  1. Simple ways to shrink your energy bills today
  2. How to keep your home warm during a Maltese winter
  3. Home insulation in Malta

 

 

 

online

 

So, the main question we get asked – every day – is ‘how does it work?’ – well maybe we should explain ‘Why’ we work first? (We explain all of this on the website (www.homesalemalta.com) of course but through social media forums, time is of the essence I suspect) – and to be fair, we have brought a completely new way of Real Estate to Malta, a way that does need explaining. What is the perception of Real Estate in Malta?  – the way Real Estate appears to work/or not as the case may be.

  • Real Estate agents list as many properties for free and wait for a buyer to pop up as if by magic. ‘Free’ in that there is no cash outlay to start with – but a mighty big 5% + Vat to be  handed over at the end.
  • It’s a bit of a ‘numbers game’ – some properties in a High Street window are sure to be seen by a prospective buyer and then the agent has hit the jackpot with charging 5%+Vat commission!
  • Oh my goodness when you look at Real Estate website photos it is obvious that many many agencies (not all!) Are there purely to cash in on the ‘luck factor’ A €3million property has 2 photos – out of focus and squint. (email me if you want to see it) that is how that agent thinks he is going to sell that property. What are they thinking? What is the seller thinking?
  • The ‘seller’ is forgotten about and it’s all about chauffeuring around prospective buyers – who, bless them, are being led to see properties that are not even suitable for their needs – but!…Because they can only see a few interior shots, usually taken by a mobile phone; they are reliant on an agent. Of course buyers can’t do any checking before hand as ‘god forbid’ the exterior is shown or too many details given away as another agencies client may get there first! So the poor seller can be left waiting years for a buyer…if ever
  • Sellers call every agent and expect a visit and free listing – agent with mobile phone arrives – agent takes a few snaps – seller promises a sale in no time at all – reality is that seller never hears from them again!
  • Real Estate Agents almost have to ‘gamble’ with their listings – they can’t put too much work in at the beginning – professional photos – floor plans etc, because there is a good chance that a buyer will come from another agency so all that effort was for nothing – so instead there is no or very little effort made at all. (does not apply to ‘sole agents’ well not much – still not much effort made)

Does that sound familiar? Of course there are good agents out there, we have even met some! But, the list above is more normal practice than not – hence we decided to bring the U.K. model of Online Real Estate to Malta. Online Real Estate is not new – we did not have a Eureka moment (unfortunately) We cannot claim any credit to this wonderful new business model; in fact the method has been in the UK for at least 10 years now, (Where, would you believe; the High St Agents charge 1-1.5% commission and that triggered the introduction of Online Agents – I mean pay 1% to sell your property? Daylight Robbery!!) whoops – digression! I was going on to say and probably longer in the U.S.A. After moving to Malta in 2012 we saw there was a gap in the property market and decided to open for business. So back to the original question ‘how does it work?’

To understand that can we explain a little of our ethos and thinking behind our business model first; To Sell any Property;

  • Every property should be shown to the best of its ability, every feature exposed, told about, every room photographed in a way that shows a buyer exactly what they are getting.
  • Even the flaws! Should be mentioned – if the property is ‘a bit tired’ ‘needs updating’ all of this should be in the property description. Why hide anything? A buyer will walk out – and in fact may not even enter the premises if they are misled in anyway. A prospective buyer who has all the facts before they arrive are more likely to put an offer in. They know exactly what they are coming to see – because they were able to view all online prior to the real thing.
  • A floor plan – you do not see this a lot in Malta with High St Agencies. (if ever it is architect drawings of properties still on plan) However, a floor plan gives a detailed layout with measurements to the prospective buyer. They can confirm that the layout will work for their needs and that the sofa will fit. Information Information Information.
  • Location Location Location, nothing new here…it is what every property professional will tell you. But, if the exact location is not advertised – then how can you attract the buyers looking for that area? An apartment in St. Paul’s? St.Paul’s is a large town…where exactly…? Which is why we put the address of the property on the site, check-able on Google maps. A buyer may want to check out the area in person before viewing a property, how can they do that if it is not known? Is it productive to everybody’s time to have an agent drive you around only to have to dismiss everything you see because it does not fit the buyer criteria – this pot luck/hit & miss way of doing things is just broken economics, neither productive or conducive to good service. We totally understand why this is done of course… it is because an agent is chasing the 5%+Vat commission – what? if someone goes to the knock the door of the property, what? if another agents client sees the property? So best to keep as much hidden as possible. Poor seller doesn’t stand a chance.
  • Advertising…well the best way to present all the information we prepare is on a dedicated website – of course. A platform that with one visit, and with no need to email off endless questions, a buyer can see all the information they require to make their own informed choice to view. Of course being happy to ‘show off’ a property in all its glory means we can advertise anywhere we think a buyer may be looking – but we can see the big question forming in your head…(that website is www.HomeSaleMalta.com by the way)

How!! Can we do that?

Surely if we are selling property, then we too are chasing commissions, are we not afraid that our properties will be seen in all their glory, all those professional photos, floor plans, giving the address away? – just to have a buyer go to the seller door and knock!??  NO is the answer!  (In fact that very thing happened on one of our sales and we were delighted!) – WHY? Because our Eureka moment is that we do not charge a commission. Let us clarify – we do not do all that work; – take professional photos, create floor plans, write great honest description, load onto every property portal we can, deal with all the enquiries that come in – all for nothing! We instead charge a set up fee only. Paid in advance before we list your property – and for 12 months support – we do everything possible to sell your property – with no commission due at the end. We work for our clients (the sellers) We put our sellers at the heart of our business.

What – actually pay money upfront ??? Well yes. €299+Vat is the cost of our Platinum Package. It is a choice you make and a choice you now have as a property seller – just ask yourself;

  • Do you want your property sold?  Yes?
  • Do you want your property photographed to stand out against all the other properties out there?  Yes?
  • Do you want to not have to hand over 5%+Vat of your money?  Yes?
  • Do you want your property listed in the worlds most popular property portals like Rightmove.com/overseas? and be exposed to every potential buyer?  Yes?
  • Do you want someone to deal with all those enquiries that come from the classified sites, the Malta Park site, the ex-pat sites, the Facebook sites – and all those other places where we advertise your property?  Yes?
  • Do you want feedback from every viewer?  Yes?…..
  • Do you think waiting years for a buyer and lady luck is going to sell your home?  No?

Then perhaps it is time to do something a little different. Perhaps it is time to take control of your property sale. (€299+Vat OR 5%+Vat???) See our Fee Packages here.

Finally The How: email us; enquiries@homesalemalta.com  Phone us; +356 99805602  Message us; through Facebook/twitter or post a letter? Let us know what Fee Package suits your selling needs best.  We make an appointment to visit your property and clarify all the details. While there we shall do our magic stuff.  Your property will be listed within 24hours.  We take care of all enquiries, arrange with you all viewings and get feedback to you as soon as we have it. Still need convincing then check out our ‘testimonials‘ and read some of our ‘success stories‘ – All Genuine Maltese Home Sellers.

Get in touch so that we can get you moving. enquiries@homesalemalta.com
Other blogs you may wish to read are:

https://homesalemalta.com/is-this-going-to-hurt-pricing-property/

https://homesalemalta.com/watch-out-for-hidden-home-loan-fees/

https://homesalemalta.com/the-future-of-real-estate-industry/

A quick overview

Marsaskala (often abbreviated to M’Skala) is a seaside village located in the Southeastern district of Malta.

Commonly known as Wied il-Għajn, it is a very popular holiday destination among tourists and the bustling seafront draws many locals as well during the sweltering Maltese summer evenings.

Marsaskala is the second largest town in the Southeast (Xlokk) of Malta and the ninth largest overall, with 11,900 inhabitants.

Marsaskala_Malta_Map
Marsaskala is also known as Wied il-Għajn, which literally translates as “Valley of the Spring”.

Nestled between two valleys lies the heart of this village: a small port at the head of the picturesque Marsascala Bay, which is dotted with colourful fishing vessels all year round.

A lengthy promenade runs all the way around the harbour and bay, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars which offer some respite to visitors.

A report by the National Statistics Office published in 2014 ranked Marsaskala in fourth place in a list of localities which registered the largest number of property transactions.

History

Several archaeological remains dating back to prehistoric times have been found in Marsaskala, suggesting that the area was inhabited since the earliest times.

Early Christian catacombs as well as Roman era villa remains, were also discovered here, indicating that the villages was used as harbour by the Ancient Romans.

Marsaskala remained a tiny fishing port until the advent of World War II, when a sudden influx of people from Cottonera seeking refuge from the incessant aerial attacks initiated a radical transformation in the village’s demographic and sociological characteristics.

From a sleepy town, Marsaskala became the holiday resort it is today.

Main attractions

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest attractions of Marsaskala is that in a relatively small area, it combines all the amenities a new homeowner would need, with a moderately lively nightlife and the opportunity to enjoy splendid seaside and countryside views, as well as seafront cafes, bars and restaurants.

Marsaskala_Malta_Emblem
Marsaskala’s coat-of-arms, quite naturally, portrays a valley. The local council’s motto is: “A source of shelter and rest”.

Of particular note is the Saint Thomas Bay area, which features many bathing areas and a stunning hiking trail that takes you near several historical buildings, including towers built at the time of the Knights and batteries constructed by the British.

Other places of interest include chapels, spacious recreational areas and various entertainment venues.

Marsaskala attracts many young families, as well as older residents seeking for a place to retire from the worries and concerns of the world, however that is only part of its appeal.

The town is becoming increasingly popular with business types as well, since it is located a stone’s throw away from Smart City, Malta newest and state-of-the-art IT and business hub, and a mere ten-minute drive from the airport.

So you’re thinking of buying your first home…

As we pointed out in our previous blog post, 2015 is set to be one of the best years ever for property buyers. This is mainly thanks to stable property prices and an increase in the discretionary income of Maltese families.

That being said, the vast majority of buyers will turn to a bank to borrow a large part of the money they need to purchase a new home.

Borrowers are often enticed with advantageous headline rates that promise the best home loan deals on the market. Throw in the removal of stamp duty for first-time buyers in the bargain and it’s easy to see why so many people forget to read the small print before taking a home loan.

In fact, the key takeaway in this article is probably that: the loan with the lowest headline rate doesn’t necessarily offer the best value if it has high fees.

In this article, we scratch underneath the surface of the home loans advertised by local banks and point out the hidden costs that come bundled with your loans.

Figuring out the true cost of a home loan

Choosing to deal with a bank you trust when applying for a home loan is essential. However, you’re expected do your own homework when comparing home loans offerings and it doesn’t get any trickier than trying to weasel out sneaky home loan fees that catch you by surprise later on, and add significantly to the true costs of a loan.

This is particularly important for people on a tight budget who wish to enjoy a smooth, hassle-free home buying experience.

There’s nothing more stressful than having to untangle the complex and often unclear terminology in which these extra costs are veiled. The situation becomes even more confusing when banks chose to to call the same fee by different names.

Here at HomeSaleMalta.com we’ve pored over the home loan details of Malta’s four major retail banks in order to save you some trouble and make the road to financing your new home less bumpy.

List of applicable charges on home loans

BOV

  • Processing fee – €450*
  • Legal fee – €150
  • Booking fee – €0
  • Updating of searches fee – €20
  • Closing of account fee – €100

HSBC

  • Processing fee of €50
  • Legal fee – €100
  • Updating of searches fee – €41.70
  • Fee for post-deed checking of hypothec charge – €60
  • Closing of account fee – €80

Banif

  • Processing Fee – 0.3% of loan amount (max. €600)
  • Legal Fees
    • Loan value < €200,000 – €200
    • Loan value > €200,000 – €350
  • Booking Fee – €250
  • From 1st-3rd year – 3% of outstanding balance
  • In 4th year – 2% of outstanding balance
  • In 5th year – 1% of outstanding balance
  • After 5th year – Nil
  • Obligatory for first-time Buyers: Architect Valuation
    • Property market value < €250,000 – €75
    • Property market value > €250,000 but < €1m – €150
    • Property market value > €1m – €450

APS

  • Processing fee – N/A*
  • Legal fee – €0
  • Updating of searches fee (every 5 years) – €20 (excl. VAT)
  • Renewal of hypothec fee (after 30 years) – €50 (excl. out-of-pocket expenses)
  • Cancellation fee for the hypothec – €46

*Fully refundable.

Conclusion

Note how the extra home loan fees quoted in the banks’ Tariff of Charges and T&C documents can make a real difference to the actual amount you’ll pay on your loan.

Another point that home loan applicants should bear in mind is that to calculate the actual cost of their loan they will also have to factor in extension fees, fees payable to third parties such as the compulsory life insurance premiums, changes to the lender’s standard variable rate and post-application fees that kick in after settling or releasing the loan.

These fees differ from one borrower to another, as well as one lender to another, so we couldn’t add them to the previous list.

Have a good chat with your loan officer about hidden fees and make sure you clear up any question you have about the true cost of your home loan. Shop around and remember to read the fine print carefully before committing to a home loan, your dream of being a homeowner depends on it!

In this week’s article, and in the spirit of the festive season now in full swing, I’d like to bring you some more positive news from the real estate industry for people looking to buy property in Malta in 2015.

We’ve already covered all the benefits that the budget for 2015 unveiled by the Maltese government last month will extend to property sellers and buyers in our previous blog post.

As if phasing out the capital gains tax regime with a more efficient final tax withholding system and extending the exemption on stamp duty for first-time buyers wasn’t enough to make you think Christmas came early this year, we haven’t quite reached the bottom of this particular stocking.

Like a choir of angelic singers whom you thought have just finished their carols, but are in fact pausing for a breather before belting out the next one, the people at the National Statistics Office (NSO) have added yet another sweetener with the release of figures showing that:

  • A decrease in housing and utilities prices has kept inflation rates low, meaning that overall people are spending roughly the same amount as they did in previous years.
  • A steady increase in the annual salaries has given a boost to the amount of money left in people’s pockets after paying taxes and social contributions, so families have more money to spend and invest.
  • A small uptick in property prices means that bargain deals are still plentiful in the current market, however the value of property bought today is likely to appreciate rapidly in the near future.

We at HomeSaleMalta.com analysed each finding to tell you exactly why 2015 is the best year to buy property. Especially if you’re buying a home for the first time.

1 – Household expenses have remained virtually unchanged

The latest figures published by the NSO indicate that the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (or HICP, a measure of inflation) in October 2014 stood at 0.7%, registering a slight increase of 0.2% since last year.

NSO. Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP): October 2014. Published 14.11.2014.
NSO. Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP): October 2014. Published 14.11.2014.

In practical terms, this means that we’re paying roughly the same prices for the goods and services we purchase – as we did a year earlier, so monthly household expenses have remained virtually stable from the beginning of the year till now.

The even greater news that came in the latest HICP report by the NSO was that the main reason why inflation levels were kept low was because of lower electricity rates.

Since expenses have remained stable but our incomes have increased, this leads us directly to our next point.

2 – Families have more money left to spend, save and invest

In fact, another NSO report, the Labour Force Survey published in September of this year, shows that the average annual basic salary of employees for the second quarter of 2014 was estimated at €16,192, a rise of €4,026 when compared to 2005 levels.

Just in case you’re thinking of switching career tracks at the moment, the study also found that the highest average annual basic salary for employees was recorded in the financial and insurance industry.

Since averages incomes are going up, while expenses have remained largely unchanged, this means that the average household has more disposable income that can be spent on discretionary purchases, saved or invested.

In fact, in another document published by the NSO it was reported that the mean disposable income of households last year stood at €23,498.

NSO. Statistics on Income and Living Conditions 2013: Salient Indicators
NSO. Statistics on Income and Living Conditions 2013: Salient Indicators

Due to increasing salaries, the average disposable income is set to rise again in 2014 and it’s effects will be clearly felt and enjoyed in the coming year.

You might be tempted to go out and blow that extra cash on the yacht you’ve always dreamt of, or a new car, but a look at the latest information about the current state of the property market and the direction it’s going points out that the soundest choice in 2015 would be to invest in property.

Why? Because…

Bargains in the property market are still plentiful and indications are that an upward trend in values is imminent

In the first quarter this year, the All-Property Price Index registered a rise of 0.8 per cent compared with the same period last year. In other words, property prices have remained practically the same, while household disposable income went up.

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of a penny dropping.

Despite the unwavering trust by the Maltese in their ġebla (property investments), the truth is that the property market has had a rough time these last few years and the return on property investments flatlined.

NSO. Property Price Index and Property Volume Index: Q1/2014. Published 02.06.2014.
NSO. Property Price Index and Property Volume Index: Q1/2014. Published 02.06.2014.

However, this is set to change as prices are finally recovering and the market seems to be slowly cresting again.

This combination of factors: i) stable expenses, ii) increased disposable income and iii) low but rising property values, plus the benefits for property sellers and buyers in the budget for 2015, create the perfect conditions to make 2015 an excellent year for investing in property.

Oh, we’ve got another titbit of information for you. Here are the ten most in demand localities in Malta, registering the largest number of property transactions. Which one will be your new address?

Top10localities
NSO. Property Price Index and Property Volume Index: Q1/2014. Published 02.06.2014.

If you’re thinking of buying property or selling in 2015, HomeSaleMalta.com has got you covered. Our expert team will you can kickstart the process of owning your new home or selling your property by contacting us.

 

We’ve already discussed how to heat up your home this winter and why insulation is a cost-effective method to reduce heating bills on this blog.

In today’s article we explore this theme a bit further by taking a good look around the house and find ways to instantly slash your monthly energy bills with a few simple tweaks to your normal routine.

Depending on your current consumption levels, the savings obtained by using these tips may vary quite a bit, however even a few euros shaved from the bills each month will add up to a tidy sum over a whole year.

 

Saving money in the kitchen

  1. When making hot beverages, measure out the exact amount of water you need. Not only will you save gas or electricity, but it will also boil more quickly.
  2. Clean out the fridge and freezer regularly as build-up of frost increases energy consumption. While cleaning them, you should also check that the doors on your fridge and freezer seal properly to avoid cold air from escaping.
  3. Avoid placing food that is still piping hot or warm into the fridge, let it cool down first.
  4. When cooking on your oven hob, remember to put lids on pots and to turn down the heat when waters starts to boil to save on gas or electricity.
  5. When cooking food inside your oven, avoid the temptation to open the oven door to check how the food is coming along as you’ll lose a large amount of heat each time you do.
  6. A microwave oven is actually the most efficient cooking appliance in your kitchen. Use it more often!
  7. If you wake up to buttered toast and a strong cup of coffee in the morning keep in mind that a toaster consumes less energy than the grill for toasting bread.
  8. Only use the dishwasher once it’s loaded to full capacity.

 

Don’t flush money down the drain

  1. Save  water by taking a quick shower instead of drawing a bath each time.
  2. Don’t leave the water running while you’re shaving, washing your hair or brushing your teeth.
  3. Switch off the water heater during the day and turn it on around 30-45 minutes before use. If possible, try to take baths at around the same time so that the household can use the water heated once.
  4. Reducing the temperature setting on your water heater by just 5 °C cuts down energy consumption by 10%
  5. When installing a new water heater, choose the smallest possible size that fits your household’s needs and try to install it as close as possible to the water taps.
  6. If you installed a solar water heater with an electric booster, set the booster to turn on in winter only after sunset (around 5.00pm – 5.30pm in Malta during the winter months), or early in the morning before sunrise.

 

Don’t sleep on it – start saving money on your energy bills today!

  1. If you have an electric blanket, switch it about 30 minutes before you go to bed and turn it off as soon as you get into bed to make avoid consuming excess energy. Better still, pile on some warm bed covers and get yourself a cosy pyjama to stay warm in bed at no extra cost!

 

Washing and drying the clothes

  1. Set the machine machine at the lowest water temperature (usually 30 °C) and only run it when there is a full load. Avoid putting it too much detergent.
  2. When using a tumble dryer, dry heavy items separately from lighter ones. If it’s sunny outside hang them on a clothesline or a clothes horse/drying rack instead.

 

Lighting and electrical appliances

  1. Remember what your parents and teachers used to tell you: switch off the lights when you’re not in the room!
  2. Replace conventional light bulbs with modern energy-saving once. They may cost more but you’ll easily recoup the price in the savings made on your energy bills.
  3. Replacing T8 fluorescent tubes with the slimmer T5 fluorescent tubes can cut down energy consumption by up to 40%.
  4. Don’t leave any electronic equipment on standby/hibernate/suspend mode. Switch them off completely if they’re not going to be used for more than ten minutes.
  5. Don’t leave your mobile phone charger plugged in when you are not charging your phone because it will still continue consuming electricity even when the battery is fully charged.
  6. When buying a new electrical appliance or gadget make sure that it has been certified with a grade A energy efficiency label or better.

 

Heating and insulation

  1. Buy electric heaters that have a thermostat or energy regulator installed. Set the temperature to just a few degrees above or below outside temperature depending on whether you want to warm up or cool down the room. (We’ve written a whole blog post about keeping your home warm in winter.)
  2. Don’t leave heaters running for long stretches of time. Once the room is warm, switch it off.
  3. Remember to clean your air conditioner filters regularly.
  4. Using insulation and passive cooling and heating methods can drastically reduce your energy bills.

 

For more in-depth information about heating your home and insulation, check out our previous two blog articles:

Do you have any more tips to add to the above? Share them with our readers in the comments section below.

In our previous blog post we discussed different ways to keep your house warm during a Maltese winter.

In this article, we go a step further and explore the ways you can reduce heat loss and thus keep your house warm at very little or no cost at all.

Imagine that: a home that feels cosy the moment you step inside, without you having to turn on a switch and pay exorbitant bills at the end of the month.

How does insulation work?

Insulating your home helps control the amount of heat that stays inside the building, thus keeping rooms cool during summer and warm in winter.

The aim of insulation is to create a barrier in the places where heat is lost the most in your home.

There are five key area in that are responsible for heat loss and high energy bills and in this article we’ll build up our knowledge about each spot from the ground-up, literally!

The five places where most heat lost during the day are:

  1. Floors
  2. Gaps between doors and windows
  3. Windows
  4. Walls
  5. Ceilings

These same five places also make houses unbearable hot during a Maltese summer, since that’s where heat from the outside air is absorbed.

On a typically hot day in Malta, houses without insulation absorb heat from the outside and release it inside. Conversely, during winter when the temperatures outside are colder than the inside of most homes, heat escapes and the air inside gets chilly.

Floors

There are different ways to insulate your floors and the one you’ll choose will depend mainly on the material they are made of.

Wooden floors are insulated by inserting heat-trapping material in the spaces beneath floorboards and fill up any gaps between them.

Concrete floors, on the other hand, provide two options to residents. You could either place insulation above concrete slabs, but this will alter floor level and have an impact on furniture and doors. Placing insulation below concrete slabs usually gives better results, but the process is more disruptive.

One benefit of the latter method is that you could incorporate an underfloor heating system which adds comfort and reduces energy bills in the long-term when compared to conventional methods of heating your home.

Naturally, placing rugs and carpets on your floors also help keep in the heat with the least amount of fuss and expense!

Gaps between doors and windows

You may not immediately think of these small crevices as being responsible for high energy bills, but the fact is that every little helps and using insulating foam to fill gaps around windows and doors is a inexpensive and effective way to insulate your home and keep it warmer effortlessly.

Make sure to choose an insulating material that is waterproof, airtight, flexible and does not shrink or expand over time. The latter is important since you don’t want to warp or bend window frames or leave cracks through which water or draughts can pass.

Windows

If you don’t have double- or triple-glazed windows installed already, you can still insulate your windows using a variety of methods.

Hanging up layered curtains made of heavy fabric is the quickest and least expensive way to cut down heat loss through windows. Alternatively, window insulation films are can be bought from hardware stores and you can apply them yourself on the indoor frame; strips of self-stick weather sealing can be used in a similar way to close gaps and keep the heat inside.

Another low-cost method is simply to roll up a thick piece of fabric and place it on the window sill; you can make one yourself or buy draft snakes or draft stoppers online if you’re not handy with needle and thread.

Perhaps the best solution retrospectively is secondary glazing.  A second frame and glazed unit fitted inside the room, in some cases the larger ‘air gap’ performs better that traditional double glazing.  There are marvellous companies on the Island providing this service, with frames coloured to suit existing installations.

Walls

Walls are among the biggest culprits of heat loss in homes and also one of the most bothersome areas to insulate. However the energy bill savings are well worth the trouble!

The type of wall insulation used depends on whether you have a solid wall or one with a cavity. Solid walls can be insulated from the outside or the inside by fitting insulation material. Cavity walls are filled with fiberglass or wool fibre which reduces heat loss and condensation inside the house.

Ceilings

Finally, ceiling insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways reduces heat transfer from your roof, and it comes in a range of R-values which measure just how effective the insulation material is in keeping heat from escaping outside.

When planning ceiling insulation, ensure that an appropriate insulation R-level is chosen and that the ceiling is properly sealed with a continuous and unbroken insulation coverage. In addition to heat insulation, you can also reduce moisture and air leakage from ceilings.

Conclusion

A properly insulated house translates in huge savings on your bills, while keeping indoors temperature comfortable without depending heavily on energy-guzzling conventional heaters or air conditioners.

The variety of insulation methods available range from inexpensive DIY projects that you could carry out over the weekend to more extensive changes which require trained professionals.

Whilst the costs involved in insulating ceilings, floors and walls may still seem a bit steep, these have actually decreased dramatically in the past few years and in nearly all cases the interventions made to insulate your home will eventually pay themselves back in savings on your energy bills.

If you only looked at the brochures and websites, you’d be fooled into thinking that Malta is a sunny Mediterranean paradise all year long.

The truth is that temperatures do plummet drastically over winter; that and the high levels of humidity in this country make it very important to keep your home warm during the cold season.

In this article we take a look at some of the most popular methods used in Malta to keep homes snug when it’s freezing outside.

Log fire

There’s nothing that soothes body and soul better like gathering with your loved ones around a crackling log fire in winter. Even in Malta, fireplaces are a coveted form of heating a home since they provide much more than just warmth. A nicely designed fireplace creates a structural and emotional focal point in any house, however, they can be expensive to run and quite messy to clean up.

Kerosene- or paraffin-fuelled heater

Kerosene or paraffin heaters are still commonly found in Malta, particularly in older homes. A modern heater which is strategically placed at the centre of the house can easily warm up the whole building, however, with fuel prices through the roof, they are very expensive to run and pose a health hazard if the rooms aren’t ventilated properly.

Gas and electric heaters

Undoubtedly the most popular form of heating, gas or electric heaters are ubiquitous feature in Maltese houses since they strike the ideal balance between running costs and how effectively they warm up your living space. The biggest drawback with these kind of heaters is that they cannot be left unattended. Moreover, heaters using gas cylinders are an ungainly sight that stick out like a sore thumb with any kind of interior design.

Air conditioner

Air conditions are more convenient sources of heat than conventional gas or electric heaters: they are safe, easy to use and warm up rooms more rapidly. On the downside, using an AC to heat your home will rack up those electricity bills in no time, and once you switch off the unit the heat will dissipate quickly, leaving you shivering again.

Under-floor heating

The most modern heating solution, and one that is gaining very quickly in popularity, is under-floor heating. With installation costs much cheaper now than they were before, more homeowners are considering this method to heat up their homes.

The only inconvenience is that to install the system you’ll have to rip up the floors first and then replace them again, making this option a more reasonable choice if you’re renovating a property or buying a new one in shell form rather than a finished property you already use as residence.

Roof insulation & Solar energy

Rather than being methods to heat up your home, roof insulation is a way to prevent heat loss while solar energy is a means to reign in on spiralling heating costs.

Both are environmentally-friendly and – in the long-term – cost-effective ways to keep a house warm during winter. We plan to dedicate an entire blog post to each subject in the near future.

A woollen jumper, gloves and hot cocoa!

Perhaps the cheapest method to keep warm during a Maltese winter is simply to pile on the clothes and prepare yourself a heartwarming meal or hot beverage.

The only drawback we can think of in this case is that you’ll feel so cosy and warm, you’ll hardly want to get out of the house to go to work! If only humans went into hibernation…

Barely a week after publishing an article reviewing capital gains tax on immovable property in Malta on our blog, the government announced important capital gains tax reform which will rolled out in 2015.

The capital gains tax (CGT) reform was unveiled in the Budget speech on 11th November 2014 by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, with its main objective being to eliminate loopholes in the existing tax regime which have led to abuse.

New final withholding tax system to replace CGT from January 2015

At present, the CGT tax system on immovable property gives property sellers the choice of paying 12% on the value of their property or 35% on the profit made from the sale.

This system will be given a radical overhaul starting from next year and be replaced by a more streamlined and simplified final withholding tax system, which will be based on the value of the property.

The budget speech specified that different tax rates will apply to people selling property they had built or used as their main residence and those who built property for commercial purposes.

In the case of homeowners who want to sell property used or intended to be used as a residence within five years will pay 5% on the value of their property, whereas those selling property after five years will pay 8%.

Engaged, married or divorced couples who break up and one of them buys the property will be exempt from paying the final withholding tax on the sale.

Sales of property owned before 2014 will be taxed at 10%.

The changes announced in the budget speech will take apply for contracts of sale signed from the beginning of next year.

Property transfers made on or after 1st January 2015 will still be taxed under the current CGT system if the konvenju (promise of sale) for the transfer has been registered by 17th November 2014, the date when the property tax reforms were announced.

First-time buyers stamp duty exemption extended to 30th June 2015

There’s also good news for prospective home buyers!

The stamp duty exemption for first-time buyers on the first €150,000 of their new property’s value will be extended to 30th June 2015 for all contracts of sale made before or on that date.

Moreover, the proposed property tax reforms will also see the removal of stamp duty on the division of immovable property between co-owners in cases both owners receive the same value owned in the property before the division.

Bringing you Malta property news as it happens

Here at HomeSaleMalta.com we’ll be keeping a close eye on these reforms and the impact they’ll have on homeowners and sellers in Malta.

Stay tuned for more property news as it breaks, as well as a comprehensive and updated review of CGT for property owners and sellers once the new tax regime comes into effect next year.

Follow HomeSaleMalta.com on Facebook and Twitter.

Due to the Budget Changes of November 2014; This Guideline is no longer applicable.

 

One of the biggest concerns for people who plan on selling their homes is that they’ll lose a chunk of their profits to taxes. Currently, Malta does not levy a real estate tax for owners of immovable property, however, tax is generally due on capital gains made from the transfer of such property. Understanding Malta’s Capital Gains Tax for Home Sellers can be complex. This handy guide strips away the mystery and explains all.

 

In this article, I’ll give an overview of the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) as it affects home sellers and point out cases where exemptions are made.

 

In a nutshell, when selling property in Malta you will be charged Capital Gains Tax at a flat rate of 12% of the selling price. Thus, an owner selling a house at €100,000 will have to pay €12,000 in taxes. This amount is immediately paid to a notary public, who passes it on to the Inland Revenue department.

To complicate matters a bit further, Malta actually has two methods of Capital Gains Tax existing concurrently. The so-called ‘new’ system is the flat 12% rate already the described, whilst the ‘old’ system uses progressive rates up to 7% of the selling price.

 

In certain cases, sellers are allowed choose whether to have their gains taxed by the new or the old system, in others they are forced to use a particular rate. Certain kinds of property transfers are exempt from CGT entirely.

 

To find out which CGT rate applies for your property, you’ll first have to answer this question:

 

Q: How did I acquire this property?

A: Malta distinguishes between two types of property transfers:

  1. Property acquired by onerous title, i.e. purchased from a previous seller (See Section 1).
  2. Property acquired by gratuitous title, i.e. inherited (See Section 2) or donated (See Section 3).

1 – Capital Gains Tax on the transfer of purchased property

If your property was purchased from a previous seller, the second question to ask yourself is this:

 

Q: How much time has passed since I purchased this property?

A: The cut-off point for deciding which tax system is implement is 12 years.

  1. If you bought the property less than twelve years ago, then you may choose either to have the transfer taxed under the old system or at 12%.
  2. If twelve years or more from the date of purchase have already passed, then you will be taxed at 12%.

 

2 – Capital Gains Tax on the transfer of inherited property 

If you inherited the property you are selling, then you have to ask yourself a slightly different question:

 

Q: Was the property inherited before/on the 24th of November 1992, or after? 

A:

  1. If you inherited your property before or on 24/11/1992, then CGT is equal to 7% of the transfer value.
  2. If you inherited your property after 24/11/1992, then CGT is 12% of the difference between the transfer value and the cost of acquisition, in other words: the net profit you make from the sale.

 

E.g.  Owner inherits property valued at €20,000 in 1995. She now decides to sell it at €100,000. Brokerage fees are calculated at €1,000. Therefore, she makes a net profit of €79,000 (€100,000 – €20,000 – €1,000), which multiplied by 12% results in €9,480 of CGT due.

 

3 – Capital Gains Tax on the transfer of donated property

If the property you are selling was acquired through a donation, then you have to ask yourself this question:

 

Q: Has it been five years  since the property was donated?

A:

  1. If you sell your donated property within five years, then you may choose either to have the transfer taxed under the old system or at 12%.
  2. If you sell your donated property after more than five years, then CGT is 12% of the difference between the transfer value and the cost of acquisition, in other words: the net profit you make from the sale.

 

Other transfers where you won’t pay tax at 12% 

Instead of being taxed at 12% some transfers may be taxed under the old system. A transfer of property can be taxed under the old system when:

  1. Owners who sell their property within twelve years from acquisition (excluding property acquired through inheritance) can choose to be taxed under the old system.
  2. If you own property situated in a special designated area, and you were the owner of that property on the date when that area first became a special designated area, you can choose to be either taxed at the current 12% rate or under the old system.
  3. A seller who is not a resident of Malta may be also subject to tax on gains made from the transfer in his country of residence. S/he can have the right to claim double taxation relief in his country of residence and may therefore choose to have the transfer taxed under the old system rather than at 12%.

 

When are you exempt from paying CGT?

In the following three cases you are exempt from paying CGT on the transfer of immovable property:

 

  1. You own the property and you lived in it for at least three consecutive years before the transfer.
  2. You have been living in a property for more than three years with a permit issued by the Housing Authority pursuant to a promise of sale (konvenju). If you decide to sell the property right after the contract is finalised, you’re exempt from paying CGT.
  3. You have lived in  the property for at least three consecutive years and you have inherited it from your parents or grandparents. In this case, you’ll be exempt from paying CGT even if you haven’t owned the property for more than three years since inheriting it, as long as you lived in it for at least three years before the transfer.

 

E.g.  A daughter has been living with her aged mother for more than three years in their family home. Her mother passes away and the daughter inherits the property. She can sell the property straight away and be exempt from paying CGT.

 

Summary 

There are tonnes of information about Capital Gains Tax on the relevant section of the Inland Revenue website which explains every possible property transfer scenario and its applicable taxation rates.

Another handy feature I found is the flowchart below which explains the three main property situations described in this post at a glimpse.

 

Understanding Malta’s Capital Gains Tax for Home Sellers
Image credit: ird.gov.mt

Do you have any questions about the CGT system that Malta uses for immovable property transfers? Let me know in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to answer them.