The latest international destination to target South Africa’s wealthy for property investments and visa access into the Euro Zone, is Malta. Lance Cohen, Seeff Atlantic Seaboard luxury market agent, who himself has invested in the country, says it is a true gem for South Africans.
While there are now many destinations on the market, Cohen says, very few actually result in citizenship and often the residency is linked to the property ownership, thus if you sell, you lose your residency.
Malta is an Archipelago of three main islands of which Malta is the largest. It is a full member of the European Union, Euro Zone and part of the Schengen region.
“Investment in Malta starts from as low as EUR 200,000 to 250,000”, says Cohen. “It offers one of the most effective routes to Euro citizenship and offers direct citizenship within 12-14 months. That then comes with full EU access, a significant advantage in the age of globalization“.
“Add to that the fact that English is the business language of the island and this is arguably the most attractive destination right now for those looking to get a foothold into the Euro Zone”, says Cohen. Seeff is now marketing properties in association with two leading realtors based in Malta and is thus able to offer a wide range of real estate.
Malta lies in the heart of the sought-after Mediterranean with quick access to Europe in under two hours, and less than three hours from London, but you are also only about five hours from the Middle East.
It has a rich history that dates to the time of the Crusaders, around 1,000CE. The architectural style is similar to that of Europe with predominantly apartment living and cobbled streets lined with diners and other facilities.
It has a more temperate climate year-round compared to Europe and is a popular tourist destination. Aside from just enjoying life on the island and exploring its rich history, it is renowned for its water sport, being surrounded by the warm Mediterranean and is popular for yachting, boasting several yacht clubs. There are long stretches of white sandy beaches.
Malta is recognized as a reputable international business, financial and maritime centre with world-class infrastructure and facilities. It has the largest free port in the Mediterranean and although an on-shore low tax jurisdiction, Malta is not included among the black listed tax havens. It is business friendly and it is relatively easy to set up a business and if of course has a favourable tax climate.
Malta is one of the best performing economies within the EU and currently holds EU presidency. Valletta, Malta’s capital is going to be Europe’s city of culture for 2018.
“There is a bustling community of expats that work on the island and it offers a very attractive Residence and Visa programme for South Africans”, says Cohen. “You can for example relocate there or alternatively invest in a holiday or retirement apartment that comes with residency and ease of movement across Europe as part of the package”.
It is also a popular destination for rentals, driven by demand from holiday makers and expats with yields currently around the 3.5%-6% mark. Prices are driven by the location, size and what is on offer and whether it is a new or renovated unit or an older apartment or a villa, says Cohen.
Apartment prices tend to start at around EUR 300,000 and villas at around EUR 600,000, but can range to around EUR 2 million to EUR 4 million at the top end for a magnificent home and location.
“Although you may buy any property on the island, there are restrictions, so the Special Designated Areas (SDAs) are probably more advisable, but the choice is superb”, says Cohen.
He concludes by saying that South Africans are increasingly looking to shift some investments into offshore property and especially those looking for a residency and visa route. “You cannot get better than the Euro Zone and at this stage, Malta is the fastest and safest route”.