Buying a property in Malta is a fairly simple process – although it can sometimes seem to move quite slowly by UK standards, sales are normally completed within three months of the initial agreement.
Just as in most European countries, a Notary (public solicitor) is required to oversee the legal proceedings although it can be a good idea to have a solicitor of your own check over any contracts.
Once you’ve found a property and agreed a price with the seller, you and the seller will both have to sign a preliminary agreement, known as a convenium (konvenju). This sets out the terms and conditions of the sale, including the dependence on the search and survey results being satisfactory.
You will be required to pay a 10% deposit at this point – this will normally be paid to the Notary and held in trust until completion.
In Malta, foreign non-residents have to apply for permission to purchase a home on the island. Although this may sound scary, in reality it is purely a formality for British buyers, and your Notary will take care of this for you.
This application should be made as soon as your preliminary contract has been signed, as it can take a little time for the paperwork to come through.
At the same time, your Notary should also initiate all searches and checks on the property, to allow plenty of time for these to be carried out.
This stage can take up to three months – the reason for this limit is that the preliminary purchase agreement (convenium) is normally only valid for three months. After this time, the contract is void and the seller is allowed to keep your deposit as a payment for their wasted time.
Step 3 – Completion
Once all the searches and checks relating to the property have been completed, you can move straight to completion.
This is a fairly standard process, requiring you, the seller and your Notary to get together and sign the contract of sale.
Your notary will be responsible for registering this sale and you will be required to pay all the closing costs of the sale at this time. It is wise to budget around 10% of the property’s value for closing costs, which typically include:
- 5% Stamp Duty
- 1% Notary’s fees
- 1% Legal fees (if you have an independent solicitor)
- £500-£1000 in search and permit fees
Throughout the buying process, all contracts are in English and virtually everyone in Malta speaks good English, so you should not experience any language problems.