COVID-19 has undoubtedly affected the property market but not all hope is lost, say Peter Sullivan and Carmen Valletta from RE/MAX Affiliates Crown

Real estate has been rocked in 2020 but locally the sector has risen to the challenge.

“No one would sell or buy property in these times unless there was the need and commitment to do so; we’re therefore mostly seeing serious buyers and sellers,” says Peter Sullivan, director and franchise owner of RE/MAX Affiliates Crown on Tower Road, Sliema.

“We concentrate on special de­signated areas and properties in Sliema, St Julian’s and the surrounding and central areas, and we handle real estate ranging from €150,000 up into the millions. While we’ve seen some reductions in recent months, prices have remained quite stable, and the government’s tax subsidy has factored into the latest increase in promise-of-sale agreements.”

Despite the unexpectedness, RE/MAX Malta was well prepared for the challenges this year brought. It was, in fact, the first agency in Malta to introduce ‘Exclusive Listing’ packages, giving it an edge over its competitors.

Exclusive listings are properties entrusted exclusively to RE/MAX Malta to market and sell. In return, the company creates a marketing package tailored to that specific property and, among its perks, includes a brochure, website and video of the property, free of charge.

“Several of our exclusive properties sell within days,” says Carmen Valletta, sales manager at RE/MAX Affiliates Crown, who has achieved awards as a ‘top exclusive listing’ agent herself and now guides a team of 15 associates who believe in the benefits of exclusive listings.

To make it as an exclusive listing, a property must be scrutinised and approved by the RE/MAX branch manager “to ensure that we’re taking on a task we believe in and know that our agents will prioritise. It is a commitment by the manager and his/her team to their vendors,” Valletta explains. “Our exclusive listings’ owners are serious about selling rather than simply testing the waters.”

For this purpose, RE/MAX Malta has created a state-of-the-art database, built for the company’s specific needs. The database gives managers and agents up-to-date statistics of any property that has been sold in any given area, the price it went for and how long it was on the market.

“Based on this data, we can guide sellers with their valuation and recommended listing price,” Sullivan adds. “We also check that the property meets regulations at law and can guide vendors along the process of engaging professional architects when we feel there is the need.”

Videos give the buyer the feeling of walking through a property and seeing each room in detail

When RE/MAX Malta first introduced the concept of entrusting a property to only one agency, it was met with scepticism. Maltese sellers were used to open listings where any agency could sell their property. Now, though, vendors appreciate the results that working with the country’s largest real estate agency brings – of which its exclusive marketing package ranks highly.

“We engage professional videographers, sometimes even getting drone shots,” Valletta continues, “because videos have become a vital tool to enhance the selling and buying experience. Unlike a static image, videos give the buyer the feeling of walking through a property and seeing each room in detail. If necessary, we’ll also stage the property to ensure a perfect result. 

“RE/MAX Malta initiated the use of videos and Matterport walkthroughs when we launched our Exclusive Packages. Since then, the feature has become increasingly popular because clients can see the benefits. We now also have team members who are professional video listing agents.”

Videos have proven to be a handy arrow in RE/MAX’s quiver at a time when in-person viewings are unadvisable. When the pandemic hit, unlike other agencies, RE/MAX Affiliates Crown did not need to adapt or introduce the use of videos since it was a tool its agents had already been trained in using.

“Video has been very beneficial, leading to a steady flow of sales throughout all our offices in Malta and Gozo, even in these difficult times,” Valletta notes.

“It is all part of our effort to provide a holistic, one-stop-shop experience to both our vendors and buyers. We take the time to understand each client’s needs to make every transaction as smooth as possible.”

As for the future of the property market, Sullivan is hopeful.

“Nobody knows for certain what will happen,” the franchise owner says. “So there may be more properties for sale as those who made buy-to-let purchases may be struggling. But there might also be more people, especially young families, wanting to buy homes with large outdoor spaces.

“Ultimately, I believe that as soon as travel restrictions are lifted, jobs will become more stable, especially those in tourism, and people’s real estate optimism will return stronger than ever before.”

If you would like to sell your pro­perty, contact RE/MAX Affiliates Crown to discuss an exclusive listing and to understand how the package could benefit you. For more information, visit www.remax-malta.com.

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