Latest data by the National Statistics Office could be an indication that the property market is showing signs of slowing down with a significant drop in the number of final deeds registered with the tax authority.

It transpires that in August 2023, the number of final deeds related to residential property was of 949, which was a drop of 25% when compared to the corresponding month of the previous year as well as August 2021 when the number of final deeds was 1,121.

However, the overall value of the august 2023 deeds which stood at €263 million was only 9.4% less than that of August 2022. This discrepancy between the decline in number of deeds and their overall value could be attributed to higher property prices when compared to the previous year.  

A wider analysis reveals that in 2023 the number of final deeds registered on a monthly basis has been consistently lower than the corresponding period of 2022

Concerns of a slowdown stem from the increase in property prices driven by higher construction materials, finishes and ancillary services. The upward trend is pricing out first-time buyers even in the low-end market of small apartments in areas which are not very sought after.

In August 2023, the highest numbers of final deeds of sale were recorded in the Northern Harbour District and the Northern District, registering a total of 259 and 178 deeds, respectively. At 96 and 132 deeds, the lowest numbers were recorded in the Western District, and the Gozo and Comino District, respectively. St Paul’s Bay topped the list with 79 deeds, followed by Mosta (46), Birkirkara (41), Zabbar and Marsaskala (both 37).

Last month an economic report by audit Firm KPMG concluded that the construction sector shrunk by 14% in the first three months of this year, thus extending a trend which has been going on for a year and a half.  According to KPMG the construction of buildings has shrunk by 12.5% while specialised services, such as demolition and utility works, declined by nearly 16%.

Civil engineering, the sector’s smallest sub-segment, has taken an even greater hit, shrinking by 16.5%. This trend was “largely attributable to the drop in government expenditure on the construction of roads over the past two years”.

Further indications of a slowdown emerge from the number of promise of sale agreements. Though in August 2023 this was 5.5% higher than the corresponding month of 2022, it has been in decline since May. Once again, the top locality was St Paul’s Bay with 99 promise of sale agreements, followed by Msida (53) and Marsaskala (42).