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Buying Property on the Island of Gozo as a Foreigner

If the warm Mediterranean climate and beautiful sea views all the way around the entire island of Gozo isn’t enough to draw potential homebuyers from all areas of the world, perhaps the moderate cost of living will be a major attraction. As one of the 21 islands of the Maltese archipelago, Maltese laws governing the purchasing of properties there apply. If you are a foreigner seeking to buy property on Gozo, you’ll need to follow very specific laws. Whether you are a retiree looking for a lovely climate to enjoy or an ex-pat seeking a new way of life, Gozo has plentiful opportunities.

A Word About the Island of Gozo

Before getting a bit of information about the laws pertaining to buying property in Gozo as a foreigner, you might be interested in learning some of the attractions that captivate foreigners. Perhaps one of the primary delights is the Mediterranean architecture so different from elsewhere around Europe and the entire world, for that matter. As a Brit, what comes to mind when you think of a farmhouse, for example? You probably envision a country estate with ivy growing up the walls and green pastures with rolling hills. In your mind, perhaps you see sheep grazing and a town square just up the road.

A farmhouse in Gozo is nothing like that at all. In fact, one of the only similarities might be that it is located outside the more populated areas, thus a ‘farmhouse.’ For this reason, if you were to search for listings of farmhouses for sale, you’d probably be delighted by the images on the screen before you. Most people in other lands might be apt to call them villas, which architecturally they probably are. Many farmhouses on Gozo have lovely swimming pools, which can be enjoyed throughout the year because of the climate there. You will see lush green rolling hills but that is the extent of similarities. Also, expect different vegetation and trees.

The First Steps to Take When Buying Property as a Foreigner

In most areas of Malta, including Gozo as the second-largest island in the archipelago, foreigners would probably need a purchasing permit. Some foreign buyers may need to obtain an AIP (Acquisition of Immovable Property) permit, but European buyers will probably not need to apply for this type of permit if they intend to make their primary residence there. If it is to be a secondary or holiday residence then an AIP would probably be required.

To learn more about the process for obtaining an AIP permit, you could visit the website of the Commissioner for Revenue. You will find what all applicants are required to submit along with more detailed requirements for first-time AIP applicants. There are also some waivers for certain permits if sizeable bank holdings in Malta can be authenticated. Again, that information can all be found on the government site or through a real estate agent or notary.

Various Legalities to Be Aware Of

For European buyers as well as foreigners from elsewhere around the world, there is a one property limit unless certain conditions are met. One of those conditions would be in what are called Special Designated Areas that are high-value properties, and the purchaser must have that bank account mentioned above. In these high-value areas, foreign and European investments are encouraged so you’d need neither an AIP permit nor be subject to the one property rule.

Also, you would need to have a ten percent deposit to be left with the notary who will close the sale once approved. If you’ve met all the legal requirements and for some reason the sale cannot be brought to completion, you’ll not lose your deposit. If a buyer backs out after signing the purchase agreement and leaving the deposit with the notary, the money would probably be forfeited to the seller.

Real Estate Market Conditions and Forecasts

Since the Covid pandemic caused travel restrictions, prospective purchasers couldn’t enter the country to view and make offers on properties for sale in Gozo. As the pandemic is forecast to wane and restrictions are lifted, the economy should begin growing again. Actually, the property market in Malta has tended to be more resilient than in many places around the globe and in the first and scariest year, property values rose by an average of 5 percent.

As compared to 2018 when prices rose by at least 12 percent, prices are expected to rise again quickly once restrictions are finally fully lifted. It is forecast that this will happen quite soon so now would be the time to check out listings for farmhouses in Gozo. Current entry restrictions by nations are listed on the Deputy Prime Minister’s health page. Once all restrictions are lifted, the market will once again be a seller’s market, but as it’s still a buyer’s market until the Covid dust has settled, prices are the best you’ll find going forward. Now is the time to get that Mediterranean farmhouse you’ve always dreamed of.