A guide for first-time buyers

7 min read

Deciding to invest and buy your first home can be quite daunting at the beginning. This is true for everyone, but especially for young couples who are just starting their life together. This process is long, and it can be rather emotional, allowing feelings to take over will result in uncertainty. This article will deal with purchasing an already built property. Buying a plot of land for development or buying a property on plan would involve further steps to those outlined below. Should you opt for the latter, one word of advice would be to ensure that the property that you intend to buy on plan already has a Planning Authority permit to avoid disappointment.

Taking into consideration the closing costs, down payments, home inspection and choosing the right people to work with is a lot. It can quickly turn into an overwhelming experience rather than a new and exciting journey if one is misinformed. Expenses are inevitable. Taking the time on decisions, informing yourself, asking the right questions, and getting the correct information may help you avoid mistakes which in turn will save you money.

Expenses are inevitable. Taking the time on decisions, informing yourself, asking the right questions, and getting the correct information may help you avoid mistakes which in turn will save you money.

#1 The Right Agent

Deciding whether to engage with the help of a real estate agent is the first step that you will need to take. However, choosing someone with experience and who is trustworthy will benefit you in the long run, so taking the time to decide on an agent who will make the process more manageable.

In addition to finding the right agent, preparing a list of your priorities is essential to meet your criteria. This list may include, the location, type of house, specific amenities you want your home to have, and any other relevant information to fit your needs.

No detail is too small or irrelevant. Pinning down your interests will ensure that the person you engage gets the right information from you when it comes to looking for your home. The buyer's agent can facilitate negotiations, organise the closing process, and help answer questions whilst taking into consideration your needs and budget when showing you the available properties.

#2 Choosing Your Professionals

Besides the buyer's agent, you will need to find trustworthy persons who will ensure that the details are not overlooked or the process is not rushed. The professionals that are responsible for this task are your chosen notary and perit (architect and civil engineer).

The notary’s role is conducting the necessary research to verify who the owners of the property are (i.e. title of the property) and ensure that the property is legally transferred from the seller to you.

Do not get deterred from opting for a house inspection, as this step is crucial. A perit can provide you with valuable information and give you a better understanding of serious problems which can exist. Issues may include lack of compliance from the Planning Authority permit, structural issues with the property and structure as well as insights in the electrical wiring, the plumbing and the disposal of rainwater should the property be purchased with all finishes installed.

Opting for an inspection would highlight any red flags that can be dealt with before sealing the deal – benefiting you from dealing with extra costs afterwards. The perit will also give you useful information to reduce (if not eliminate) future problems which may arise in time. Knowing what might occur in the long run can help you be prepared to tackle the situation the right way. The perit will also be responsible to supply you with the Land Registry plans and Eight Schedule which will be used by the notary to start the research on the title of the property. In order for this documentation to be accurate, you will need to provide your perit with a copy of the promise of sale contract. Remember also to request the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) from the seller.

#3 Paperwork

Inevitably, there is the dreaded paperwork, which without it, purchasing a property will not be possible. This does not only include the promise of the sale contract (‘konvenju’). Throughout the entire process, you will start to realise that the documents required start to add up. As discussed, engaging a notary is essential to determine the title of the property which is being transferred the buyer bears this cost.

One needs to take into consideration the taxes which will add to the financial burden. These are often not mentioned from the start, and therefore asking questions is crucial. If the property is being bought in a finished state, i.e. with all electrics, plumbing, tiling, etc. ensure that penalties are included in the contract should the seller not honour the timeframes.

Taking a loan and setting up the insurances (both life and home) are other essential steps in the process. Talking to a loan officer and an insurance clerk will help you to receive information on various types of schemes being offered. These schemes will help you cut some costs by merely doing your research. Keep in mind that every company provides different types of products, so talking to several companies will help you decide which best fit your needs.

#4 Compare Quotes and Timeframes

An exciting part of investing in a house is making it a home. This stage requires reflection and thoughtful choices. You may opt to engage the services of a perit or interior designer to help you with this process. The advantages of this is that they will create a holistic design approach, ensure that the space is designed according to your needs and to make best use of all areas. They will also aid in choosing the furniture and their size, design any custom-made units, and help you choose materials. All this could be presented in 3D visualisations that would represent how your final home will look like and you will have the opportunity to avoid unexpected results.

If, however you choose to brave this phase on your own, we recommend that when visiting furniture and appliance stores, it is always wise to ask questions. Some could be:

  • Are there any deposits required?

  • What happens when your order arrives?

  • Will they provide storage space until your house is ready?

  • What happens in the case of delays?

  • Are there any extra fees along the process?

The more questions you ask, the easier it is to avoid any unexpected surprises. Often, we become overwhelmed with choice when visiting several outlets. While it is highly recommended to shop around and get multiple quotations, do this by going with a plan in mind. That way, you can narrow down your search to your specific needs. This step is essential, but it can sometimes lead to rushing. Keep in mind what are the necessities and do not feel obliged to furnish your home from top to bottom – that will come with time.

#5 Know Your Budget

As you may imagine, investing in a home will lead to digging into your savings. Assessing how much you can afford can reduce unnecessary pressure. In as much planning as you may do, take into consideration the ‘hidden expenses’ when it comes to finishing your home. For instance, if you are remodelling an old house, things to look out for which might need fixing. These can be the plumbing, trim and moulding, the wiring, the heating and cooling system, humidity issues, broken slab flagstones (‘xorok’), rotten timber beams, just to name a few. In old homes, it is also important to assess the soil water drains and how these connect to the sewer. If this is not checked, it could lead to unexpected work in replacing the pipework which in turn may mean that the Maltese traditional tiles may have to be removed.

If you are purchasing a new home, you might want to take into consideration things which are not listed in the contract of purchase. Finishing items such as gypsum soffits, gypsum walls, ceiling roses, the electrical sockets amongst others are generally not included in the contract documents. All these come at an additional cost which if you are not prepared for from the start, you end up with an unexpected bill in the end.

General expenses could also be of the type of obtaining local council permits for cranes, skips, cherry-pickers, etc. for delivery and removal of materials and debris. This could be accompanied by local warden fees which could be necessary depending on the street location of the property.


Aside from the points above, it is paramount to refrain from seeing your home as simply an investment. It will be the place where you will create a life, possibly a family, memories and most of all it will be the place for rest and a place to experience life. As we have seen recently, the home will also be a place for children’s education, it may double-up as an office and generally be the place where we are able to multi-task! It is important to keep in mind that it is not just the area of the rooms which makes a home – it is the configuration of these rooms, links with nature via a balcony, terrace, yard, or other outside space. Your well-being and that of your loved ones should always be taken into account in the choice of your home.

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