Valletta view

Prior to the pandemic, Malta’s iGaming labour market seemed to be in dire straits. Rising costs of living, led by inflated rent prices, were driving possible employees away from Malta making it hard for the industry to attract the number of skilled staff it needed.

With the onset of the pandemic, however, rent prices abruptly decreased, and the iGaming jobs market has subsequently been reported close to its previous highs, and the industry is seemingly once again able to attract foreigners to Malta’s shores.

To find out more about Malta’s rental market, which has such a major effect on the iGaming industry, iGaming Capital Magazine sat down with an expert to discuss her outlook on rent prices.

One of Malta's pre-eminent letting agent provides her outlook on Malta's letting market
Philippa Tabone

“While rents have fallen, the market has remained very active,” says Frank Salt Real Estate Letting Manager Philippa Tabone.

Explaining that rental rates decreased mainly due to the healthy supply of properties that came onto the books from the short-let market, she says, “we had a healthy turnaround, though obviously nothing compared to the usual mad demand we’ve experienced in the past few years.”

Ms Tabone downplays the notion of a property price bubble, arguing that market prices are not determined by agents or landlords, but by tenants. “The price or value of a property is what someone is willing to pay for it.”

“Granted, there has been an excessive demand in the last few years and not enough supply,” she maintains, attributing this to a good number of units being made available on the long-let market.

“I think there was a need for an adjustment in prices as rents were increasing in an unjustified manner. As long as we keep seeing a healthy supply of good rental properties, the prices should remain stable,” the Letting Manager notes.

And now, just over a year on from the onset of the pandemic on our shores, Ms Tabone believes the situation in relation to rental rates has already shifted, particularly since the start of 2021. “We are seeing a steady increase in demand as everything is starting to open up.

“As a country, Malta currently has one of the highest vaccinated populations in the world, so while we are seeing things improving locally, we are also expecting to see far more incoming travel, both in terms of expat relocations and short-let holiday bookings,” she explains, noting that while the island hasn’t yet felt a major increase in rental prices, “as demand increases, so will rents.”

Indeed, 83 per cent of lessees in Malta are of foreign nationality, according to The Annual Malta Residential Rental Study published last month.

As things stand, Ms Tabone feels that most expats are managing to satisfy their expectations when it comes to finding a rental property.

Still, Ms Tabone admits that “unrealistic” requests do also come in.

“We have people expecting sea views and a whole lot more for a fraction of what they really cost. Malta is not a cheap, developing country.

“We have a lot to offer – it’s safe, travel distances are relatively short, the weather is amazing, travel to and from Malta is easy, work-life balance is achievable; so yes, sometimes people’s expectations are a bit unrealistic, but when one takes into consideration the benefits of living in Malta, they will realise they are getting more than expected,” she says.

Looking ahead, Ms Tabone maintains that while the island already has a lot to offer, the property market is continually developing and growing.

“There are some exciting projects that will be completed in the next few years and this will improve certain areas, such as the entertainment area,” she reveals, adding that the properties within these developments will also create a fresh supply of rental opportunities once on the market.

Looking ahead, Ms Tabone maintains that while the island already has a lot to offer, the property market is continually developing and growing.

“There are some exciting projects that will be completed in the next few years and this will improve certain areas, such as the entertainment area,” she reveals, adding that the properties within these developments will also create a fresh supply of rental opportunities once on the market.

“I also hope to see more sustainable developments that can add to the supply of good rental properties. This to maintain the supply-demand curve and avoid rocketing prices,” she adds, going on to highlight that the new law whereby estate agents have to be fully qualified and licensed in order to work in the industry also helps in a major way.

“This will help maintain standards across the board and we will start moving towards a more professional approach to pricing and overall service,” she believes.

This interview was first covered in the summer edition of iGaming Capital magazine, the sister brand to iGamingCapital.mt

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