Selling Property During a Pandemic: How Frank Salt Real Estate’s Mellieha Branch Managed to Take Home Best Branch Award for 2020

From left to right: Charles Gauci, Patrick Xuereb, Claudio Fenech, Jacqueline Micallef and Jacqueline Borg

In the real estate business, competition is very fierce and to be a top performer in a large real estate group the size of Frank Salt Real Estate, it takes something very special to stand out amongst the group’s many branches and hundreds of agents. Notwithstanding being one of the smallest branches within the group, and despite a major pandemic effecting not just the island but the world at large – the Mellieha office, managed to accomplish this and has been awarded the “Branch of the Year” title for the Group for 2020.

A well deserved win after a year of hard work

The Mellieha office has always been in the same location and although small with a handful of agents, it packs a mighty punch in service, dedication and delivering results. The sales team is composed of Charles Gauci, Claudio Fenech, Jacqueline Borg and is managed by Patrick Xuereb, who is assisted by Jacqueline Micallef. The latter two have been part of the Frank Salt Real Estate team since 2005 and 2002, respectively.

They unanimously agree that they are one big family and that this is the main reason for their success: they work together, fill in for one another, never let a dispute go unresolved, sometimes holiday together, and support one another in a way that only a true family can.

We sat together with members of the Mellieha branch team to find out first-hand how they do it and what is the recipe to their success. When asked how they feel about winning the much-coveted award, the group had this to say:

“We are elated about winning the award and this is only as a result of our unwavering team spirit, preserving the branch’s reputation and the culmination of all the long and hard hours of work we have put in, many times even over weekends.”

Manager Patrick Xuereb added: “We work hard and extremely thoroughly and winning did come as a surprise as we weren’t expecting it, if I have to be completely honest. It was well deserved in the end and I am extremely proud of our team.”

The team’s tenure in property ranges from just a few months for some to just under two decades for others and they believe in the ethics of hard work, commitment and putting any client’s needs first.  This is perfectly mixed with promoting a working environment that is informal and conducive to delivering one’s best because when you are successful as this team, the rewards are immeasurable.

The Strategy Behind Their Success

When it comes to effective communication, sales tools and marketing, the team agreed on several points. These were: being extremely knowledgeable about one’s product, using social media effectively by reaching target audiences and being flexible at all times.  Part of the mix is having a good inventory and the most important one of all that no money can buy according to them, are word-of-mouth referrals. “A few of us come from the hospitality industry and that gives you an edge on customer service and experience. As purchasing a property is a lifetime investment for most people, the responsibility to do your absolute best is immense. There’s no room for error…” Patrick Xuereb added.

When asked about the impact of the pandemic on their day-to-day operations, everyone agreed that besides implementing and practicing all the required social distancing measures, wearing masks and sanitizing, it was business as usual after getting used to the “new normal”. The branch also promotes virtual meetings and remote viewings of properties with clients. For the rest of the year, the team expects little change in the pace at which they have been selling and only wants to improve on their already award-winning performance. It is currently a very fluid and dynamic environment with Jacqueline Borg commenting: “The predictions are that property will continue selling very well till end of July due to the COVID budget, and by June, according to the latest announcements, we are hoping that tourists will start visiting Malta again in the third quarter of 2021, which will mean the rentals market will pick up considerably.”

The Beauty of Mellieha

Mellieha and its surrounding areas have remained a firm favourite with buyers due to its views and people still living a traditional Maltese culture. “The area is renowned for its association with the sea, fresh air, views and being just far enough from the extremely busy and bustling central areas” Claudio Fenech added. It is closer to the sister island of Gozo, has less congestion of traffic, offers country walks and geographically speaking, Mellieha has loads to offer. From open spaces to historical sites, the best and largest sandy beach on the island and picnic areas all make for Mellieha to be a very attractive buyers’ location indeed. Mellieha also offers better rental investment options for buyers wanting to rent out properties, as the area is well known for its large number of British expats looking for accommodation year-round.

When it comes to sharing tips based on their years of experience as veterans in dealing with all aspects of property, the team agreed on the benefits derived from their strong “work family “ethics. “You also have to know exactly what you are selling and follow up every little detail during the course of the whole transaction… until the signing of the final deed.” said Charles Gauci. He added: “Honesty with clients is primary as your reputation is always at stake and one deal gone wrong is one too many.”

When asked what they think of the new and tough estate agent laws being implemented by the government, everyone agreed that it was long overdue, and that the qualification underwrites the professionalism that was missing for a long time.

Tips to Be on Top

On the best advice they can share with someone who is interested in pursuing a real estate career, Charles Gauci and Jacqueline Borg had this to say: “One has to be fully committed and dedicated to a career in real estate and be psychologically prepared when you encounter any issues… but there is no better business where hard work pays off so well. It is an extremely rewarding career path for those who are very energetic and those who are ready to work even after office hours. This is due due to the fact that the majority of our clients  work during the week and the only time convenient for them to deal with properties that they are selling or buying is during weekends or after hours.”

Patrick Xuereb concluded: “Real Estate is a vocation, so you need to be determined, focused, persistent, consistent, ethical and last but not least, absolutely honest.”  Being the manager of the Mellieha branch, Patrick is extremely proud of FSRE’s reputation, longevity, core values and the many tens of thousands of positive customer experiences the company garnered over the past more than 50 years.

All we can say to this extraordinary sales team is “Well done and Prosit!”