Statistics released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) indicate that in the last two months of last year there was a sharp increase in the number of promise of sale agreements for property in Gozo. In November and December, 315 promise of sale agreements were signed, or an average of five per day. This occurred after the announcement in the Budget speech that the reduced stamp duty scheme on Gozitan properties would be terminated at the end of December.
The 2% stamp duty scheme had been introduced in the Budget for 2017, initially for only one year. Sales of Gozitan properties had taken a heavy hit after 2006, with the number of signed promise of sale agreements remaining very low until ten years later. This reflected lack of demand due to relatively weak economic growth. For example, in November and December 2011 only 68 promise of sale agreements were entered into, or an average of one per day.
By 2016, sales had almost reached 2006 levels, but it was the introduction of the lower stamp duty scheme that led to new record sales in Gozo. In fact, by 2018 the number of promise of sales agreements had risen to 277, or almost five a day.
In 2019 sales slightly decreased but were still sustained at the level of 224 agreements. Because of the pandemic, the Government added another stamp duty rebate scheme, which also covered Malta. This scheme led to record property sales, especially in 2021, when the scheme was slated to cease.
Last year the number of promise of sale agreements in the last two months of the year had fallen to 257, from a record 458 the previous year. Yet, this was still an amount that exceeded the pre-pandemic level.
The increase observed last year led to the third highest number of promise of sale agreements observed since the collection of statistics. This led the government to postpone the end of the scheme by one month to help the industry cope with strong demand for property in Gozo.