Property and Malta go together like a horse and carriage. We love buildings and building them, as any glance around from your front door or hotel lobby will show. But do we love searching to buy them?
Anyone who has searched the property websites of Maltese real estate agents will know that it’s as time consuming and frustrating an exercise as foot-slogging around their high-street offices. Earlier this year, Malta resident Dominic Watson decided that enough was enough. Having been on the receiving end of real estate agents (often less than user-friendly) websites, he recently launched Flatscanner, a property search website he says is ‘set to revolutionise’ the Maltese property market.
Dominic has lived in Malta for six years and came up with Flatscanner after long experience of the rental scene here. “Currently, if I want to search for a new property, I have to visit a website run by an agency. But because their priority is not the website, they keep all properties listed – even those that have already been sold or rented – to rope you into settling for a property that is above your budget or that doesn’t fit your needs,” Dominic explains. “And then after they’ve delivered such a disservice, they take 50% of a month’s rent + VAT from both parties.”
After generations of real estate agents dominating the Maltese property industry with high fees, Flatscanner is poised to be an innovative tool for buyers and tenants, and also for property sellers and landlords wishing to by-pass agency fees and go direct to market.
How Flatscanner works
Offered as a free search platform, Flatscanner.net provides an outlet for sellers and landlords to list properties online for interested buyers and renters to view. Allowing users to view properties online in real-time by simply selecting their area on the map, this original idea aims to change the way in which the Maltese residents search for their next home.
It’s simple and fast for property owners (sellers and landlords) to create a listing with multiple photographs of the property and details such as whether the place has a pool, accepts pets and so on. The first 500 listings at Flatscanner.net are free and the slots are running out fast; after that, there’s a yearly fee of €30 a listing, with the prospect of discounted deals for sellers with multiple listings.
“I’ve had a great response so far from property owners in Malta – so many people seem genuinely keen to sign up and use this service. The 500 free listings are almost all gone, which is, to be honest, must faster than I expected them to,” Dominic says.
For tenants and buyers, searching for new properties has also been made much easier. By simply scrolling in on the provided map, the user will instantly be able to see exactly where available properties are located. They will also be provided with up-to-date information on the property as well the opportunity to contact the owner directly, therefore avoiding the need to hire and pay for a real estate agent.
A ‘no-agent’ service
Despite the boom in popularity for Flatscanner’s service, Mr Watson says that there are several services provided by agents that would still be necessary throughout the property-hunting process, such as evaluations and photography.
To overcome this, Flatscanner is seeking to work with trusted partners and professionals offering these essential services by enabling them to advertise on the site. “By unbundling these services from the property listings, Flatscanner ensures greater transparency and freedom to site users,” Dominic Watson explains. “They are free to ‘phone a friend’ in the business or get quotes from our site partners.”
Flatscanner – More Info
See also Flatscanner on Facebook.