During a recent meeting with all the Frank Salt Real Estate workforce, I asked for the people who were over 50 years of age to stand up. Four or five stood up, and that amazed me. Only four or five people currently working for Frank Salt Real Estate were born before we started the company.

It showed me quite clearly how quickly time passes.

Over the 50 years Frank Salt Real Estate has been operating in Malta and Gozo, so many things have changed and our company has changed along with the times, except for one thing. We have never stopped behaving ethically and faithfully on behalf of our clients − our selling clients and our purchasing clients. Our policy was, and still is, that we would rather lose a sale than conclude something that was not right or correct for the people who we represent.

Our company was the first to promote itself as an estate agency in a modern way: like opening offices with shop windows promoting properties; the first to computerise; the first to use mobile phones; the first to give property details to our clients; the first to open branches around the island; the first to open in Gozo; the first to produce a property magazine; the first to hold property exhibitions abroad; and the first to have a mobile office.

We were also the first to have a property television programme and the first to have a website, and an interactive website. In fact, we were the first in so many things that it was fair to say that where Frank Salt Real Estate leads, others follow.

Blowing our trumpet a bit. Yes, I am. And I am very proud of it.

Frank Salt Real Estate went from a two-person company to a staff of over 200 today. It has been wonderful to see it grow. For the majority of the 50 years, I was very ably assisted by my good friend and now retired, Joseph Lupi, who shared my ethical standards and work ethic.

However, time goes on and waits for no man and Frank Salt Real Estate is now run by my sons Douglas and Grahame. They are both following in their father’s footsteps, working very hard and keeping our good name and reputation, going along the lines we started so many years ago.

A long time ago, I remember telling my sales staff that one day soon they would have computers on their desks showing all the properties for sale, with photos. I didn’t have a clue how that would work, and I still don’t, but we did it and we were the first company to do so. Today, I tell them that virtual reality, blockchain and artificial intelligence will be an integral part of each one of our offices very soon. How does that work? Don’t ask me, but it will be there.

In the future, every new item that can help our salespeople sell or rent properties will be available to them, but although they will help, they will never substitute the work ethic, honesty, helpfulness and personal, professional attitude that we instil in all our staff, during the time we train them and throughout the time they work for us.

Our company also has a policy of investing back into the community and country, offering environmental assistance whenever we can. We have been doing that for many years now and will continue to do so in the future.

Estate agents have no say in what properties are built, where they are built and how they are built

One key example is the €120,000 investment we are making at Inspire in Marsascala, where we are installing PV Panels to supply the organisation with free and clean energy and help minimise their electricity bills. This is to be fully funded by Frank Salt Real Estate.

Estate agents are often used as scapegoats whenever there are problems with the environment and excessive building. These adverse comments are made by people who do not really know what they are talking about.

It is definitely not in a responsible estate agent’s interest to see the environment messed up or to see village cores destroyed. Trees uprooted and not replaced with mature ones. The new town areas, especially in touristic areas, left in a disgraceful condition. Malta becoming ugly.

Estate agents have no say in what properties are built, where they are built and how they are built. That falls under the auspices of the Planning Authority, developers and their architects.

I have been writing for many years about the wrongs that are being done and I will continue to do so in the future because I do not want to see Malta and Gozo ruined. The islands are naturally beautiful and what we develop should enhance that.

When we first started in the real estate business, not many Maltese owned their own home. Mortgages were non-existent and then finally were given at eight per cent. The people who used the services of estate agents were mainly foreigners but, over the years, the Maltese people gradually started using the services of professional estate agents and that percentage has grown steadily. Nobody forces a person to use an estate agent but more people are finding that the service they get makes the experience very worthwhile.

Soon there will be a law that will make every estate agency and every person working in an estate agency become licenced and qualified, so that they will all be responsible for the work and service they will give to the public. This is long overdue and, hopefully, will eliminate those people and companies who shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Let’s see what the future holds. Training of our new recruits and existing sales teams has always been a crucial and integral part of the way we operate. We cannot afford to have unprofessional staff acting on behalf of our brand.

The future for Frank Salt Real Estate is quite clear. More of the same. Much more of the same. Let the next 50 years give our company many fond memories and honest business. Let us all work together to turn Malta into a much better place in which to live. This can only be so if we ourselves don’t mess it up.

During our 50 years in business, we have sold thousands of properties, which is one of the main achievements of a successful company.  However, the other important achievement of selling so many properties is that we have helped thousands of people and families find their homes which, in my opinion, is truly the greatest and most satisfying achievement of 50 years of hard work.

Along with this achievement, we have mainly used the income earned to employ hundreds of people throughout the years and supported so many families to live and have a decent standard of living, no matter how good or bad the property market was at the time.

It has been up and down quite a bit over 50 years, as you can imagine. But we have always supported our staff without whom we would never have achieved success.

Frank Salt Real Estate has earned the reputation of being the largest independent, family- owned real estate company on the island, giving the very best service to our clients. Of this I am very proud. The real estate market in Malta has consistently offered growth and healthy returns to investors and homeowners alike, making it the most trusted and reliable long-term investment possible.

I am also very proud to live on this delightful island and wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else. I am proud of what Frank Salt Real Estate has achieved throughout these past 50 years.

Frank Salt is chairman of Frank Salt Real Estate Ltd.

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