As a First Time Buyer the whole property market is something new for you. You may be seduced by what's available at the top end of the market, keep grounded and realistic. Remember what your budget is, the lifestyle you want and what you can afford. Don't be pre-occupied with what someone else has as everyones income, situation and wants from life are different.
As mentioned in previous articles life has changed and First Time Buyers rarely start on the property ladder by purchasing that large house for life. So what are First Time Buyer's actually buying?
Many flats have been built and are still being built to cater for this particular market plus allot also depends on what your personal requirements are vs what is actually available at that moment.
However the most common types of property being bought are:
Maisonettes, and sometimes
Unconverted Houses of Character
Flats and Maisonettes have become the solution to modern day living. Those who are on a more restricted budget and time frame will opt to buy these type of properties. The main differences between flats and maisonettes are that with a flat you share a common entrance/area and with maisonettes you have your own entrance. You could possibly find them at similar prices BUT there would most definitely be a difference in the total area being bought. For example you could find a maisonette at the same price as a flat BUT the maisonette is smaller, you will then need to decide what is more important to you ; space or your own entrance ? It's only upon viewing that you can really make such a decision.
Flats would share the common area which is the entrance, stairways, lift (if one's available), roof (if available) plus the facade (outside of the block). They come in various sizes from the small block that only has two individual flats , to a large block that could have 10 or more individual flats. Nowadays it' s become increasingly difficult to find a flat that you have use or access to the roof. If there's no roof available check to see where you can actually hang your laundry ?
These properties are often bought by busy individuals or couples who have a more restricted budget and time frame.
Maisonettes come in different forms and it depends on the block that they form part of i.e. is it just a block of two or three maisonettes or does the maisonette form part of a block of flats ? Basically all maisonettes have their own entrance, stairs, and outside space. If you are on Ground or Elevated Ground Floor you tend
to have a yard with no roof, the other Maisonettes would generally have shared use of the roof.
These properties are also bought by busy individuals/couples and also young families, or couples who are wishing to start a family immediately.
Townhouses are more traditional in style and are a good buy for those who have the budget and the time to renovate them. They often have old tiles, high ceiling small rooms and a winding staircase up to the second floor. They make a nice home but some could do with quite a bit of renovation to make them work with todays modern lifestyle.
These properties are bought by those who have the budget, love traditional features and the foresight for restoration projects. They could suit couples who are in no hurry to move in or don't mind doing up the place whilst they're living in it.
Unconverted Houses of Character
Unconverted Houses of Character can still be found nestling behind some hidden alley way. They are a rare and beautiful treat. They were very popular and were snapped up at bargain prices by young couples several years ago. They are no longer so sought after by young couples starting out as they need a lot of time, money and will power to complete. This has become increasingly difficult to achieve with lifestyles having become that more hectic.
These properties are not for the faint hearted. They are for those who love originality, large restoration projects, are willing to take their time and have the money to complete them. Some people also live in part of the house whilst the remaining part is being finished. These are high maintenance properties and possibly not the right option as a first home, however if you are in a position to purchase one then they are definitely worth considering.
So now you may be asking yourself what are the individual benefits of buying these properties?:
You buy right at stage one and can start on the property ladder quickly
You may find a large flat in a small block and it's more affordable than a maisonette
You can afford it and it fits in with your lifestyle
Low maintenance home - hassle free
High possibility of selling at a good price in the future and go to the second stage of buying i.e. buy larger home for family (step by step)
You can share the costs of keeping and maintaining the common area
You have your own entrance
You'll have your own outside area
You'll have less people in the whole block
More spce but think wisely - what space are you getting for your money?
If it's affordable you're possibly entering the property ladder at the second stage and may not intend on selling it in the future.
You'll be at the second stage of buying property
Central part of the village
Own entrance / own roof and own yard
Traditional period features
Scope for renovation
Unconverted Houses of Character
An abundance of original features that can be restored and brought back to life
Uniqueness which comes at a cost, restoration,building and then yearly maintenance - so make sure you really can afford it and that you don't bite off more than you can chew.
Good investment - but be wary of the location and space it occupies , this is a competitive market
Good for people who have the know how and can do much of the restoration work themselves, or know someone who can.
Now you have a pretty good idea about the main types of property that are being bought by First Time Buyers and what the benefits are. You may still have some questions or there are some grey areas so please take a look at the following questions that we are regularly asked:
Who pays for the maintenance of the common area in a flat?
This should be shared equally between all the flats that make up the block. To avoid unnecessary future problems with neighbors ask that this is stated in the contract of sale (convenue) and how often the place needs to be painted etc....
If I buy a flat do I have access to the roof?
You will have access to place your water tank and television aerial (possibly satellite dish). Some flats still do offer use of shared roof where you can hang your laundry.
If I buy a flat do I own the airspace?
In some cases yes you could own the airspace but this will pump up the price of the property as it's value is higher than a flat that doesn't offer airspace. This is unusual but can be found. In some cases you can still use the roof but not own it.
So if I don't own it who does ?
Maybe another flat owner who bought the first flat and offered a good price for the airspace, or the original owner.
Why would the original owner still want the airspace?
It's common that the original owner/contractor would possibly build extra floors in the future.
Who pays for the entrance of a maisonette?
Who ever owns the maisonette is responsible to put in their own external door and complete their stairs.
What about the facade?
It's quite possible that the original owner will complete this, if not the cost will be divided between all the maisonettes.
Would I have access to the roof?
If you are not Ground or Elevated Ground Level you will highly likely have access to use of shared roof.
What if I don't have access or use of the roof?
Some alternative outside area would be provided. This depends on the design of the maisonettes.
Why would I buy a townhouse?
You would want a more traditional small house in the central part of the village.
Can I move into a Townhouse as soon as i've bought it?
Most of the time yes but bare in mind many of them are not adjusted to modern day living. The bathroom and kitchen may need changing and updating.
How much would this cost?
That depends on the size of the room and the level of finishing that you want - shop around before you set your eyes on one thing.
Should I rip everything out and start from the beginning?
No, not if you have original features such as patterned tiles, stone columns. If these are professionally restored they are beautiful to keep and will help the property hold its price if not increase it.
Can Unconverted Houses of Character really be found?
Yes they can. You may need to buy in less popular villages or more out in the open areas.
How Long does it take to fully convert a house of Character?
This is not done in weeks or months rather years. It will be done in stages over a few years. Some people absolutely love these projects and will take a long time completing them as and when time and money permits.
Should I buy an unconverted house of character if I can stretch my budget ?
You should consider it BUT bare in mind the lifestyle you will be living until it's completed. Again this is not for the faint hearted it's a long term project that will be worth it in the end if you have the time, money and will power to see it through.
We hope that this information has been useful and that you have become knowledgeable about the styles of homes available.
In the next article we will discuss 'FIRST TIME BUYERS ARE PREPARED'.
Article exclusively prepared for BrideMalta.com by CNWPropertyMalta