As part of the new restructuring of the lettings division of RE/MAX Malta,  a new survey was commissioned, with the findings highlighting key aspects of the island’s rental property market from the tenants’ perspective. 

According to RE/MAX CEO Jeff Buttigieg, the results from the research provide insights into the market and will allow the company to understand their clients. 

“Over the last 18 months, RE/MAX has become a quality over quantity company, and by understanding our clients better, we can improve our service and adapt accordingly,” he said.

Launched in collaboration with SiGMA Group, the independent survey asked over 200 gaming professionals who rent properties locally to answer a range of questions about their experience within Malta’s lettings landscape. The goal of the survey was to build a good understanding of current market sentiment.

The survey, carried out by leading market research company Esprimi, covered respondents’ views on aspects relevant to lettings both pre- and post-pandemic, including fluctuations in rental prices and how this may have affected their choices as tenants. Participants also shared their predictions for Malta’s lettings market over the coming year and their take on the local cost of living.

“Since we have so many rental clients within the gaming sector, they are best placed to offer the general customer perspective of the industry,” Buttigieg says.

“Their valuable insights into the rental customer experience on the island highlight specific areas of improvement and enable us to revitalise Malta’s lettings industry with a targeted approach.”

The survey’s overall results, which Buttigieg shared during the SiGMA Europe gaming festival recently hosted in Malta, offer useful details about the successes and shortcomings of local lettings.

"When looking deeper into the findings and actual RE/MAX figures of rental prices during COVID, there was an aggregate decrease in rental prices of 11 per cent between March 2020 and October 2021"

Participants were predominantly aged between 25 and 34, and renting properties in the Sliema, Gżira and St Julian’s areas. Most revealed that the reason for their choice of locality was its proximity to their workplace and its range of amenities, with few pointing instead to other aspects related to quality of life such as safety, parking or access to green spaces.

In terms of their current living arrangements, 46.1 per cent of respondents said lived with their family, while 34.3 per cent lived alone and 19.6 per cent lived with roommates or friends. Two- or three-bedroom rental properties were the most popular, with 46.6 per cent and 32.4 per cent respectively living in them – although most lived in two-person households or alone. 

Likewise, given the choice of different property types, 68.1 per cent of respondents lived in an apartment or flat. 14.2 per cent lived in a penthouse, whereas 9.3 per cent lived in a maisonette. 8.4 per cent lived in either a terraced house, a townhouse or a villa.

The survey confirmed that the pandemic affected living arrangements for Malta’s property tenants. While 24 per cent lived with roommates and 40.2 per cent lived with family in 2020, today these figures have shifted to 19.6 per cent and 46.1 per cent respectively. 

COVID-19 has also impacted local rental prices, according to respondents. 50 per cent agreed that they felt that prices increased, whereas the other 50 per cent felt that prices remained the same or decreased. When looking deeper into the findings and actual RE/MAX figures of rental prices during COVID, there was an aggregate decrease in rental prices of 11 per cent between March 2020 and October 2021. 62.3 per cent of the participants expressed that they were generally satisfied with the quality of their rental property.

Meanwhile, 77 per cent indicated that the local cost of living in terms of food, groceries, entertainment and transport has likewise increased over the same period. As a result, 61.1 per cent shared that they were considering changing living arrangements for better value for money or lower cost. 

A good percentage of participants said they were not well-informed about the 2020 change in rental legislation, with 51.1 per cent of those who said they knew about it confirming that the new law has impacted them positively. 

“With these new insights from rental clients, a new rental law, upcoming lettings agent legislation and a refined lettings arm at RE/MAX Lettings Malta, we are ready to reshape the island’s rental market with a greater focus on quality, performance management, customer service and agent professionalism,” Buttigieg concludes.

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