How the iGaming sector changed the rental game – RE/MAX Malta

Jo Caruana - 26th June 2019

I think we saw the value in rental long before many other companies did,” says Jeff Buttigieg, co-founder.

The iGaming sector literally revolutionised the Maltese rental market when it first arrived here over a decade ago. At the time, rental business was just a side business for locals; Maltese culture hadn’t yet embraced the opportunity to invest in rental properties to service the market.

But now, after a 15-year period that has completely transformed the property sector across a number of spheres, the letting industry is ripe – and RE/MAX Malta remains key to that success story.

“I think we saw the value in rental long before many other companies did,” explains Jeff Buttigieg, one of the RE/MAX Malta founders. “So, when the iGaming sector first made in-roads into Malta, we were best-placed to be able to service it – and we have continued to update and perfect our offering ever since.”

Because 60 per cent of iGaming employees are foreign, it is no surprise that they require rental properties on the island, as well as other advice to facilitate settling in. Edward Agius, RE/MAX’s Regional Lettings Manager, explains that RE/MAX Malta pioneered the real estate concierge service that many incoming gaming companies have gone on to use as a means for helping their teams to integrate into life locally, and to have all the information needed to build a life here.

“We have helped countless iGaming companies and their teams over the years – with everything from finding an office in a great location, to getting their team members set up with somewhere to live, and even helping them to get connected to the Internet, find a cleaner or to discover the best local restaurants. We believe this holistic approach makes all the difference in those important first few weeks, and it has helped us to build strong relationships with the iGaming world that has ensured we have stayed very much connected to it,” Mr Agius says.

Of course, it helps that RE/MAX Malta also has the largest property database on the island – and plans are in place to further solidify this and to grow the company’s rental capacity even further.

Portomaso

Photo by Alan Carville

In fact, with the company’s Regional Lettings Manager Edward Agius at the helm, RE/MAX Lettings Malta foresees that it will open over 10 dedicated lettings offices by the end of the year, and that each office will house an average of 10 to 12 letting agents. “This will create a dedicated workforce of over 120 lettings-specialised agents; a definite first for Malta,” Mr Agius says.

“RE/MAX Lettings Malta will be operating from a dedicated office, which will also be the home of our real estate academy, where real estate-specific courses will be delivered daily to train new recruits that will be specialised in the letting industry. We have already hired a training manager to focus exclusively on the lettings market, giving them the time to cope with the anticipated growth within the industry.”

And that anticipated growth is already bearing fruit. Mr Agius highlights how RE/MAX Malta continues to receive almost-constant requests from iGaming companies setting up in Malta – each with its own unique requirements.

“From the very early days, the iGaming sector really raised the standard of letting properties in Malta,” he says. “This is because the renters that came with it were looking for quality – bright and airy homes with plenty of space, modern furnishings and good connectivity. For a while, the property sector struggled to keep up and demand hugely outweighed supply. Today, that has evened out a bit, and there are now some fantastic properties on the market that really fulfil the top-level requirements of those in iGaming.”

In fact, just recently RE/MAX Malta was approached by one of the leading iGaming companies in the world which went on to rent three floors within a large commercial office block. “However, they realised they would outgrow that base before they had even moved in, so actually rented the fourth floor too. We are definitely still seeing this kind of growth and investment.”

Asked about the trends he expects to see in the months to come, Mr Agius says that, overall, it will be more of the same. “iGaming renters are looking for luxury at a good price. These days, they are considering living more centrally – as opposed to just in St Julian’s or Sliema – as they then rent a car or use the car sharing service to get around.

“Flat sharing, though, is also on the up. We are seeing friends and colleagues choosing to rent together, as this means they can afford even more luxurious properties on their combined wage, and live where they want to.”

This interview first appeared in the June edition of iGaming Capital. 


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