MDA boss wants property selling prices to be published

Sandro Chetcuti says that the selling prices of land and properties should be made publicly available 

Sandri Chetcuti addresses the EY Properties Conference

Malta Developers’ Association president Sandro Chetcuti called for the publication of selling prices of land and properties.

“We should know at what price square metres of property or land are being sold and in which locations, so that we can truly monitor inflation on property,” Chetcuti told MaltaToday.

Chetcuti was speaking at the end of a debate organised by EY on the sustainability of Malta’s property market. He soundly dismissed the results of a straw poll, that found that 63% of the audience members considered the market to be unsustainable.

“Property is the most solid investment in Malta; the other investment alternatives are basically gambling,” he argued, while jokingly challenging the 63% to pledge to sell their properties at the current market price in four years’ time.

He added that affordable housing shortages should be addressed through government initiatives like the recent first time buyers’ scheme, rather than by flooding the market.

He dismissed warnings by economist Marie Briguglio on Malta’s vacant properties – that has last been calculated at around 70,000.

“Vacant properties are not a problem; most are second homes or holiday homes, while others are dilapidated and are wrangled over by heirs, and others are for sale but at too hefty a price.”

During the debate, Briguglio warned that Malta’s property market cannot maintain its current price rise, which she argued has been stimulated by one-offs such as the asset repatriation programme, the sale of citizenship programme, the upcoming EU presidency, and the high rate of immigration to the island.

“They’re all good ideas, but they shouldn’t have been issued all at once,” she said. “As it stands, we’ll need to keep attracting more and more foreigners to Malta to keep the property market sustainable.”

She added that the rise is keeping lower-income earners out of the property market entirely, leading to higher public costs in terms of social housing and benefits.

“Our taxes are essentially being spent on social housing, but this should be targeted to those who need it, not to inflating the market further” she said.

However, economist Chris Meilak retorted that the property market will maintain its current trend – due to stable low interest rates, low unemployment, high GDP growth, and an ever-increasing demand for foreign workers due to a growing services-based economy.