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News: Malta and Cyprus 'booming'

Thu, 27 Sep 07

The imminent Adoption of the Euro is one of many reasons property investors are looking to the islands of Malta and Cyprus...

As Euro adoption draws closer for the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Cyprus, property website www.worldpropertypages.com is reporting a surge of interest in the islands from prospective investors, some of whom are based as far afield as North America.

Malta and Cyprus have enchanted visitors for centuries. Homer’s Ulysses could hardly tear himself away from Malta after seven years. And, as for Cyprus, the poet could think of no better place for a “goddess in residence”.

Unbeatable potential

Now, these two islands boast an almost unbeatable combination of history, sunny coastlines, vibrant city life, tranquil countryside and –as if this is not enough –excellent investment potential as they move on January 1, 2008 into the European currency union.

LLB International Ltd (www.worldpropertypages.com) a UK-based International Real Estate consultancy which markets properties throughout the world is recommending Malta and Cyprus as “Best Picks” to property investors at the “Live and Prosper” International Property Conference in Barcelona next week.

Carly Barnes, an overseas property expert and Managing Director of LLB International Limited is attending the Barcelona conference as guest expert.

She adds that Malta is currently the country of most interest to delegates attending the Exhibition. ‘It is something of an undiscovered investors paradise, Carly states, but the race is now on to purchase prior to introduction of the Euro and those who leave it too late could quite literally be kicking themselves next year!”

Enchanting places in which to live

Many commentators are certain that values will rise in Cyprus & Malta when the Euro is officially introduced. But it’s not the only reason to invest in property in Cyprus & Malta before 2008. From a lifestyle perspective, these two sunny and historic Mediterranean islands have a long tradition of welcoming visitors from English-speaking countries.

“It is wonderful,” says British-Canadian Dr. Richard Holt: “to escape the language and cultural barriers that you keep running into in other, equally enticing, European countries. You can go shopping without worrying about where to find the words you need in your phrase book.

Most people in Malta speak English and are only too happy to do so. Then, of course, in Malta, there are centuries of history going back even before the pyramids.”

Georgia Piponides of Link CY, an associate of LLB International based in Cyprus, speaks equally eloquently about life on Cyprus. “I was born in London and now live in Cyprus. The life I now live in Cyprus is incomparable. There is nothing quite like sitting on my balcony in the sunshine looking out to the ocean.”

Great prospects

From an investment perspective, Malta and Cyprus look equally good. The situation is changing rapidly however. Low cost airlines are dramatically increasing the number of visitors to these islands to the point where, as reported by the Malta Times on August 17, 2007 “Hotels: Everyone is Full!” This was the “best year in six for tourism, both in revenues and income”.

Tourists who bought only a few years ago for lifestyle reasons are now delighting in their investment gains and solid rental returns. All of this is bound to increase demand for properties on the islands. The combination of relative affordability, a very good history of property gains, and rapidly increasing demand is almost unbeatable.

In Cyprus there is another significant event occurring in January 2008. 15% VAT will be charged on all land transactions in Cyprus which is good news for purchasers who buy prior to this date but very bad news for those who delay.

Island hotspots

Properties in Malta and Cyprus still currently remain relatively affordable compared to other EU locations such as Spain and Portugal. This situation is not likely to hold for much longer however. Low-cost airlines are putting these island “hot spots” almost in Britain’s backyard.

High-profile media exposure (such as the Coronation Street series) is bringing some of the most beautiful and historic scenes in Malta into everyone’ living room.

Already property demand and prices are increasing. Tourists who bought only a year or two ago because they loved the lifestyle are now delighting in their investment returns.

Local Maltese agents Frank Salt Real Estate Limited (Malta associates of LLB International) have reported that sales and revenues increased by 32% for the 12 month period ending June 2007.

Marketing Manager Vanessa Lupi adds that they are also witnessing a 24% increase in rental revenue. Prices of Houses of Character and townhouses, which have always been popular with foreign investors, have increased by as much as 20%. Similar trends are being seen in Cyprus.

The Euro Effect

Add to these impressive growth rates the forthcoming entry of both Malta and Cyprus in the EU currency union and the results are eminently predictable. First of all, both island nations have made enormous changes to meet the stringent requirements for entry into the EU.

All countries that have previously made these often difficult economic adjustments (i.e. Spain, Portugal, and Ireland) have reaped significant economic benefits.

As Richard Nehme, Senior Executive Dealer of the International Foreign Exchange (IFX) points out “Both countries are starting on a very solid footing even before they enter the Euro currency union.

Both the Cypriot and Maltese property markets are supported by stable economies, vastly-improved infrastructure, and long established and transparent property buying systems that offer property buyers a safe and secure property purchase.”

The post-Euro future looks even brighter from an investment potential. As Richard continues, “No one can ever be really certain, but given the islands’ solid starting point and the experience of other countries that had previously adopted the Euro (such as Spain, Portugal, and Ireland), we can reasonably expect to see the Maltese and Cypriot economies to continue to go from strength to strength.”

Potential benefits include:

  • A “reduced cost for travelers.

  • A reduction in invoicing and pricing costs for businesses”.

  • A significant increase in the amount of “foreign direct investment (FDI) which will in turn enable these countries to modernise their industry and infrastructure further.”

Richard continues: “Tax advantages are also a draw for newcomers who take up permanent residency on the islands.”

An almost unbeatable combination

LLB International Managing Director Carly Barnes concludes that the future for property investment profit in Malta and Cyprus appears to be very positive indeed.

LLB has selected Malta and Cyprus as its two “best picks” in Europe for Living, Relaxing, and Prospering and will be presenting reasons for this choice at the Barcelona LIVE AND PROSPER exhibition on September 2-3, 2007 with Georgia Piponides of Link CY.

As Carly Barnes, states “We have talked to numerous clients and looked at thousands of countries and properties” but in the end “we came down to Malta and Cyprus as two of our best picks for places for our clients to live in and ensure that their investment money-wise is well-placed. I don’t think there is a better place to Live and Prosper that the beautiful islands of Malta and Cyprus”

This article was co-authored by Dr Carmelita Boivin-Cole and Carly Barnes and designed by Georgia Piponides.

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