Malta offers bargain homes for rich South Africans
According to The Wealth Report‚ compiled by global property consultancy Knight Frank‚ the small Mediterranean island country has seen a 12% increase in its "ultra-wealthy population''.
The report‚ which will officially be launched in South Africa next week‚ explained that the rich are "benefiting from its investor visa and residency programme and strong growth in the local IT‚ financial services and real estate sectors''.
Luxury market specialist for Seeff Properties Lance Cohen said the country was fast becoming a new favourite location for a second home for well-heeled South Africans.
Properties start from as low as R3-million - a bargain considering the price of a holiday home on the South African coast.
"I bought a property a few months ago and for my family‚ it has become the perfect getaway. Although you have everything that you need on hand on the island‚ you can take a ferry to Italy and enjoy the best of southern Europe at the same time‚'' said Cohen.
Cedric Lebon from Greeff Properties said: "If you don't have a European passport or you're worried about the political climate in South Africa‚ it's a low-hassle way of getting you and your money abroad."
Honorary consul to Malta Bernard Michael Dominic Cassar warned that an entry level investment of 320‚000 euros will only qualify you for a stamp that eliminates visa requirements to several European countries and residency in Malta.
"You will not gain citizenship or a European passport‚'' said Cassar.
But he said through the "far more onerous" Global Investment Programme - which involves an entry level investment of 650‚000 euros and a further 150‚000 euros paid directly to the Maltese government over a five-year period - these documents could become available.
A South African man‚ who wished to remain anonymous‚ said he had invested in property there five years ago already. Now he is ready to sell and will be making a good profit.
"We purchased the property for our family at a good price‚ and we used to spend quite a lot of time there‚'' he explained.
The "reasonably low tax rates" and the opportunity to obtain a European visa were some of the justifications for his initial investment‚ which he is ultimately satisfied with.