Quirky. Majestic. Imposing. Elusive. Charming. Unique. All of these adjectives aptly describe the composition of traditional Maltese homes, more popularly and commonly referred to as houses of character. Rightly so, as in all their forms, shapes and sizes such properties are brimming with timeless charm and a particular undertone of preciousness brought about by their centuries-long history – in a way it can be said that not unlike wine, if properly preserved these houses can maintain and increase their quality.
The traditional architectural features of these houses never fail to captivate the eye and heart of those with a keen sense of appreciation for skilful craftsmanship. Elements such as the traditional Maltese balcony, wooden beams, arched and vaulted ceilings, cellars, central courtyards and stone floors or intricately patterned tiles characterise the composition of these homes.
Houses of character and the Maltese property market
The immense potential and beauty of these old homes only really started being rediscovered around the 1980s, as people started getting interested and buying such houses to convert them into contemporary homes. This led to the development of this highly distinctive sector on the Maltese property market, encapsulating a wide range of property types that fall within this category.
The offering includes village and country homes tucked quietly away in the heart or on the outskirts of Malta’s characteristic villages, stately townhouses with imposing facades, countryside farmhouses – for which Gozo is especially renowned – and majestic palazzinos and palazzos exuding old world grandeur. Their value is often further enhanced by their setting, being it the quiet countryside evoking rustic charm or a quaint, winding alleyway adding a nostalgic touch of past insularity.
The high demand for homes of character due to their attractive features ensured for these properties an appreciating value on the market year after year, particularly as demand started outweighing supply and availability keeps grows shorter and shorter.
Owning a house of character
Houses of character are sold either converted or unconverted. The latter entails that the property still retains most, if not all, of its original feature in their original state and was most likely never or hardly ever restored or renovated. On the other hand, a converted house of character entails that restoration and renovation works were carried out on the property in order to turn it into its current state. This may include works on the stone structure, a change in layout and further development to the original structure.
It is important to know that due to their old age, these houses tend to need more maintenance and attention, particularly when passing from one owner to another, therefore such costs need to be factored in. Due to these houses being built to accommodate the needs of their time, certain modifications to suit a contemporary lifestyle may also need to be carried out. However, after taking the initiative of restoring the house to its former glory, the final result is highly rewarding and the homely atmosphere generated by a restored house of character is unlike any other.
Houses of character as a home or an investment
Many converted properties enjoy ample outside space and are fitted with a swimming pool and dining area ideal for entertainment, making for highly attractive homes. Historic palazzos, particularly those in Valletta are all the more being sought after to be turned into boutique style accommodation.
The foreign market, especially tourists, on their search for authenticity and the discovery of the Maltese character want to stay in such buildings in order to experience the local lifestyle to the full. Many owners who own older-type townhouses also find that there is a demand for the rental of their older-type accommodation, both for the short and long term.
All in all, there is hardly any reason whatsoever to reject the offer of traditional timeless charm combined with modern luxuries and contemporary style that befit today’s needs.
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