Benji talks Architecture, Streetscapes & Single Malts

The response of our first blog was strong so we sat down with Benji once again...

I met Benji a few years ago and there are a few points which really inspired me about him, did you know that;

  • He is an Architect by profession,
  • He the only 3rd generation estate agent in Malta and one of very few in Europe
  • After he graduated he lived in London and Berlin
  • He couldn't find a job as an architect in London so took part time job putting up marquees and was a scooterman!

The grit of a broker starts at a young age and Benji showed me his drive to be Malta's Finest Real Estate agent. 

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We found Benji in his favourite spot in the Mriehel Market Centre, his Office. The first thing that caught our eyes, were the Sara Grech Ltd. adverts from the 90's, which seemed to be hand drawn. Later on we discovered that YES! Sara Grech had commissioned a person to hand draw them. Below take a look at these retro ads and a quick look at what Sara Grech looked like 30 years ago.

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As Benji finished off a call with a client, we sat down together at his meeting table begun to better understand his passions and his lifestyle. What we can say is that he is a bit of a petrol head with posters of Monte Carlo and Monaco up on the walls and an old school Harley model on his desk, he spoke about his dream of owning a classic car and his custom Harley. 

We were intrigued about his comfortable approach to let us in about his personal life. Not commonly found in an office of a 30 year old Managing Director. He stood up and offered to make us an espresso which to our surprise there was an espresso machine hidden away in a tall cabinet behind him besk, but that wasn't all! Every office needs an epic collection of Single Malt Whiskies & Gins - an envy of all gents.

We asked about the whiskeys and he added, "don't forget to write something about the whisky".

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Discovering more about Benji we begun our Q&A:

Where do you see the future of the building in Malta going?

I believe the more we protect our heritage of old buildings the more value we are adding to the built environment. I am eager to find out more how our road network and transport infrastructure will improve and hope/pray that this will that this happens swiftly with the quality that our country rightfully deserves and needs.

During an interview you once discussed streetscapes; in particular Birgu. Could you elaborate?

Birgu I believe is the only town in Malta to date that began to tackle the issue of all the wires hanging from building to building in each street, where the streets and alleys have been improved by passing underground utilities and repaving in something other than tarmac. I understand the mayor who had an extraordinary vision for this small town has managed to achieve something that all towns and villages should take as a precedent, learn from the successes and mistakes and look at doing it better than Birgu.

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You operate from a head office you call a Market Centre, this we understand is a very new idea to the Real Estate Industry, how did it come about? And why did you choose Mriehel?

When we brought the international premium franchise E&V to Malta in 2013, Sara had always visioned a head office which allowed plenty of flexibility for agents, somewhere fresh and top end to exchange ideas and hold meetings with clients. E&V also had a similar idea and we decided to launch this pilot concept in Malta. Barcelona followed, with now Market Centres in Dubai, Paris, Rome, Madrid and New York. Mriehel I believe with time will be the CBD of Malta, already plenty of top corporations are situated here and I think in the next 5 years it will be the place to be for commercial offices.

How important are the location of your offices?

Very, Mriehel is actually incredibly central and accessible from all parts of the island.

Does this help the people working with you?

Yes indeed.

What is the future of the offices or so called Lounges?

We are looking now at having a hybrid version of our model whereby agents will be permanently stationed in each lounge but still able to use all the facilities of the Market centre for the daily business. Meetings and training sessions will be held in the MC and all agents specifically stationed in Mriehel too.

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"Hopefully one day the Architects and Planning Authority will work hand in hand to discuss the future of the Architectural Design in Malta" he adds. "Whether this will happen in the coming months or years, we don't know, but all I see is opportunity."   

Leaving his office we felt excitment and are eager to understand more about where the real estate market is going. Keep an eye for our next blog.

Engel & Völkers

Malta Regional Market Center
Engel & Völkers Sara Grech, Triq in-Negozju
BKR 3000 Mriehel
+356 2347 0000

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