Residential property sales rose by 30 per cent in 2021 over the year before, equivalent to nearly €1 billion more in sales, even as the number of permits issued for the construction of residential dwellings declined, according to the Central Bank of Malta.
In its report for last year, the bank quoted National Statistics Office data that showed the demand for property picked up in 2021 following a drop in the previous year. Some 14,362 final deeds of sale were concluded, up from just over 3,300 in 2020.
At 15,653, the number of promise-of-sale agreements was 39 per cent higher than in 2020, which had seen a three per cent drop from 2019. The value of final deeds reached €3.1 billion – an increase of €999.7 million on 2020.
The bank said that although permits continued to decline from the record high levels of pre-pandemic years, the number of permits for commercial buildings increased.
Pick-up in construction activity
National accounts data indicated a pick-up in construction activity, which showed “signs of a further pull back towards historic levels”, the bank said.
Permits for residential units issued by the Planning Authority declined for the third consecutive year in 2021, reaching the lowest level since 2016. Permits issued stood at 7,578, down from 7,837 in 2020 and 12,485 in 2019.
The number of development permits for commercial buildings increased by 3.1 per cent in 2021, following a decline of 22.7 per cent in the preceding year.
In 2021, 2,770 commercial permits were issued, slightly more than the 2,687 approved in 2020 and down from the 3,474 of 2019.
Construction investment increased by 3.7 per cent in real terms, broadly reversing the 2020 decrease.
The latest increase was driven by growth in non-dwelling investment.