“Good realtors know that they need to be constantly plugged into the market and continuously switched on.” Ms. Rita Schembri – Head of the Commercial Property Division at Frank Salt Real Estate.
In most parts of the world, and especially in Malta, real estate is an imperishable asset that is always increasing in value. Commercial real estate is no different but besides fitting the bill in terms of size, location, value and style, a commercial property also needs to fit the investor’s business model, aspirations and economic projections. It is a different ball game.
Commercial real estate refers to any property that is not used for residential purposes but exclusively for business activity. Such property can include offices, hotels, factories, warehouses, catering establishments, as well as retail and leisure spaces like restaurants, gyms, and shopping centers.
Innovative as always, it was Mr. Frank Salt who first recognized Malta’s niche in Commercial Real Estate. He immediately started training consultants specifically in selling and letting commercial property, and now, with more than 50 years experience, a core team of specialists focus exclusively on servicing commercial clients from Malta and Gozo as well as from overseas.
“A commercial sale or lease is very different from a residential one and much more technical. One needs to know his/her numbers! It’s always an interesting journey however, even though a commercial deal tends to take much longer to conclude than one which involves the sale or rental of a house or an apartment” explains Ms. Schembri, herself an Accountant by profession. “Many times the process of purchasing or selling a commercial property starts when the project is still at an embryonic stage; sometimes we start working with a client, even before the land has been purchased or even identified.”
“When developers and investors engage our commercial consultants they benefit from a top notch advisory service that gives them invaluable insight. With their knowledge, experience and training, our commercial property consultants are best placed to advise on what makes sense in the current market, and also what the market will be ripe for by the time the project is finalized, which sometimes can be years later.”
“We make sure that our clients get a good property at the right price, saving them both time and money whilst allowing them to devote their valuable time to their core business needs. For an investor who is spending thousands if not millions of Euro, this type of foresight is priceless,” adds Ms. Schembri.
Malta enjoys a wide range of quality commercial property, most of which are linked by a good road network. The sector is booming from all fronts, both supply and demand are as healthy as ever and the variety of properties keeps growing – from commercial office space in purpose-built developments like Trident Park and The Quad in Mriehel, to stand-alone blocks; from numerous industrial zones, to quite a few other industrial clusters that are being developed as we speak. In terms of properties meant for retail, hospitality and entertainment purposes, the choice is also considerable. As expected, most are sited in high footfall areas such as Sliema, St Julians, Valletta, Mdina, The Three Cities and other popular town centres, but even in this area we are seeing quite a few developers and investors venturing out of the usual areas.
When investing in a commercial property, a professional consultant not only provides invaluable guidance but can also act as a shield of discretion to provide the much-needed privacy in sensitive commercial transactions. “We are experienced in discretely scoping out the market for a particular interest, without ever revealing the interested parties,” explains Ms. Schembri.
This discretion and integrity, is what I believe sets Frank Salt Real Estate a notch above the rest. When it comes to going concerns for instance, discretion is imperative, but at the same time, discretion needs to be exercised in a way that does not limit the opportunity to network and find potential investors or buyers. This is a skill that does not come easy and is only harnessed after years of practice.”
The trend for commercial property in Malta is clear – bigger, better and more sophisticated. When it comes to office space for instance, companies are now looking for the whole works – not just good office space but one that is surrounded with the full amenities including gyms, coffee shops, and child care centres. This is what attracts good employees and employers know it, so they’re catering for the whole experience.
“A day in the life of a commercial property consultant is to say the least, interesting and varied,” concludes Ms. Schembri. “A lot of work is done in the background before meeting any client, so that once we are with clients, we’re prepared and make the best use of their time. Sometimes clients are only visiting Malta for a few days, if not hours, so a lot of research and homework would have been done before they arrive. We only have time to show them two or three properties so those properties would have been vetted to ensure that they meet all of the client’s business and operational needs. The choice has to be spot on and the numbers need to make sense!”
Frank Salt Real Estate’s Commercial Consultants are housed at the agency’s Portomaso Commercial Division office and they provide an array of services – from consultations, property valuations, advice on projects, recommendations on different options, all while also ensuring the viability and feasibility of the project in hand.
This Division’s client base is always growing and consists of both private and corporate clients, local and overseas, some of whom represent large blue-chip corporations, banks, embassies, as well as international companies and investors. For this reason Frank Salt Real Estate is always on the lookout for ambitious commercial consultants to join its team.
“Whenever approached by a client, we help them go through a very focused thinking process that we believe is very necessary for success. Whether buying, selling or leasing, Frank Salt Real Estate’s Commercial Division offers a full advisory service which focuses on each client’s specific business challenge. We help clients deconstruct their situation and guide them through the next steps to move forward in an efficient and cost-effective manner. We immerse ourselves in the particular business of our client and tune in to their vision in order to find the right property or development. The cost of a commercial property is probably one of the largest financial outlay that is ever incurred by any company or an individual; it needs to be done right, the first time, no doubt about that,” stated Ms. Schembri.
“We must be doing something right not least because the Commercial Division has just been awarded Malta’s Best Commercial Real Estate Agency at the International Property Awards held in London. Established 25 years ago, this is the world’s most prestigious property competition, with over 300 contestants participating in the various European real estate fields. We are proud to win the Best Commercial Real Estate Agency award.”
Ms Schembri adds, “results speak for themselves; our service is second to none, attested by the constant flow of high-level clients and investors seeking our services, time and again. I thank them for their trust!”