Lifestyle - Sara Grech
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Category: Lifestyle

Sara is known for being a huge dog lover. She has 3 dogs of her own and has always made the office a dog-friendly environment to work and relax in. In 2013, she decided to transform her passion into purpose and helped set up The Service Dogs Malta Foundation, an NGO that matches trained guide dogs with blind, partially sighted and disabled people.

First and foremost a businesswoman, Sara Grech has been leading the way in Malta’s Real Estate market, however her passion for helping people led her to look deeper and discover her North Star. 

“Your North Star can come from anywhere. What are you passionate about changing in the world? What gives you purpose? The idea for the foundation came to me when I realised how many people service dogs can help. It’s about providing emotional support and a sense of independence, but also therapy, companionship, and a way to socially interact with others”, said Sara. “I first became involved in the foundation when I showed a property to a blind person”, she continued, “I was curious so I did some research, found out more information about how I could help and got stuck in.”

As things stand today, 10 dogs are currently in service, 9 in training and 48 lives have been transformed since the foundation began. But there are around 1,800 visually-impaired people living in Malta and the NGO’s big mission is to ensure that no person who could potentially benefit from a service dog is left without one.

“I love what I do. And I do what I love. That’s what provides meaning in my life.”

Sara firmly believes that, as a business leader, she has a responsibility to use her connections and influence for the greater good, balancing her time between both. 

“Whilst there are obvious differences in the day-to-day runnings of a company and a charity, it would be impossible to separate the two. They are both goal-driven and form my purpose and drive. I am the same person in both aspects and bring the strength of one into the other. It helps that I love what I do. And I do what I love. That’s what provides meaning in my life”.

What’s next?

The plans for developing the foundation over the next few years are specific to the needs of autistic and/or visually impaired people. At the moment, the focus is on helping those on the autistic spectrum, primarily children, who need an alert to check their blood sugar levels in cases of hyper- or hypoglycemia. It’s a lengthy process of acquiring, training, supplying and supporting guide dogs, costing the foundation anything between €12,000 - €15,000. 

The Service Dogs Malta Foundation relies on donations and volunteers to support their work, and individuals who are interested in supporting their mission may be able to get involved through donating, volunteering, or spreading awareness about the important role that guide dogs play in the lives of people with visual impairments.

Donate here to support the service dogs through two years of intensive training before they can be placed with their families at no cost. Learn more.

Follow the foundation on Facebook.

The Foundation is a member of EGDF (European Guide Dogs Federation), which is dedicated to maintaining high standards in the training of guide dogs and establishing cooperation between guide dog schools in the EU. The foundation signs a contract with guide dog owners and carries out inspections to ensure that all animals are being treated well.

Category: Lifestyle

Today’s working parents have a new set of expectations. The image of a mother or father juggling a phone call with their child balanced on their hip, and the family dog leash in the other hand, might seem aspirational; but this “always on” mentality can quickly lead to burn out.

The freedom to set your own schedule whilst keeping up with the joys and challenges of raising kids, can make real estate a perfect job option for parents.

However, we won’t sugarcoat the hard work that’s needed to establish a career as an agent.

The art of creating a healthy work-life balance

Drawing a clear line between the professional and the personal can help with achieving balance in your everyday life. Working flexibly as an agent allows you to focus your energy and attention to the task at hand, whether that’s spending time with your kids, going for a run or selling the dream of a place to call home.

Our founder & CEO, Sara Grech, has shared her approach to creating a healthy-work life balance, “When I open the office door I work, when I open my front door at home, I am mum. I think my method of being able to compartmentalise the two helped me achieve my daily goals.

The time I spent with my children was without distraction, so if I was with them, I was really with them. But the time invested in my work was also 110%. If I ever had moments of doubt, I reminded myself that my work was what enabled me to give my kids a fulfilling life, free of want or need, which is one of my greatest achievements today.”

Whilst a lot of the skills needed to be a successful parent and agent overlap (multi-tasking, great organisation and even better negotiation skills!), you can still create clear boundaries between your work and home life. Working as an agent gives you that flexibility to create blocks of time when you are available to work and blocks of time when you can’t, so you can fully invest your time and energy as both an agent and a parent. Working 9-5 isn’t for everyone, so flexible work might be the right path for you.

Take advantage of hybrid working

Life as an estate agent is on-the-go, so you can take advantage of working remotely when possible. For instance, instead of meeting with clients at the office, you can schedule an online meeting or attend a viewing on-site and then continue to update property listings from home.

This gives you more time by eliminating your commute and helping you to make the 3pm school pickup.

Establishing good connections and relationships is also a key part of being an agent, and those conversations usually happen outside of the office. Being a parent can be a key networking tool; meeting other parents through your kids’ school or playgroups, means that you can be on-hand to help when they need new homes.

Join an established agency

If you do want to get started in real estate as a parent, joining a team and working under an already successful agent will give you a lot more flexibility than trying to do it all by yourself.

Established estate agents will have more opportunities for growth and development, offer comprehensive workplace benefits, and have access to larger platforms and a wider pool of contacts, making it a lot easier to network and sell properties.

At Sara Grech, we recognise potential when we see it and will welcome you into the fold and accommodate your schedule and needs as a parent. We provide the opportunity for all individuals to thrive in an incentive driven career with unlimited potential. Our people are recognised for being hard working, highly motivated and ambitious. So, if you’re a parent or just lead a more hectic lifestyle, check out our flexible job opportunities or get in touch with us.

Category: Lifestyle

It’s no secret that a home is one of the largest and most important investments you’ll ever make,  so feeling overwhelmed as a first-time buyer is only natural. But when you’re scrolling through the endless possibilities of property, how do you know which home is right for you and when is the right time to act?  

Our Sara Grech agents weigh in and share their top tips for stepping onto the property ladder for the very first time.  

Is location the most important factor?  

When you’re thinking about where to buy, it’s worth taking the time to research different areas  around Malta and Gozo. Even on a small island, considering the basics like “How long will it  take me to get to work?”, or “What’s the local community like?”, will pay-off later down the line.  

Picking a location for your first property is an extremely personal and important choice but  before jumping into anything, you should take a good look at your current lifestyle. What are the  non-negotiables you can’t live without? Good transport links? Decent outdoor space? Proximity  to a gym or beach? When you purchase a home, remember you’re also purchasing a lifestyle,  so spend time going through what you consider “essential” versus “nice-to-haves”. 

Having conversations with family and friends about the locations you’re considering, can also be  a good starting point. But sometimes, you just need to step into a home or community to see if  you can imagine yourself living there or not. A place can just feel right for you, and you shouldn’t  ignore that - even if the neighborhood wasn’t initially top of your list. However, it’s worth  speaking to someone who knows the local area well before signing on the dotted line.  

At Sara Grech, all our agents are individually skilled and knowledgeable about the areas they  live and work in. Given your first home is likely to be your base for the foreseeable future,  finding a property in an area that’s on the rise, can pay dividends down the line. If your heart is  set on a particular location, but you’re still hesitant about taking that first step, then reach out to  one of our local community experts who can offer you more guidance. 

I experienced comments related to my gender and ability from the very moment I started my career, such as: “You won’t be taken seriously” or “You’ll get bored and soon give up to get married and have children”. This made me push harder to prove myself. I needed to be great at what I did, because average was never an option."

How to get the most from a viewing 

When you turn up to the property, take your time and look around. Note the details such as the  number and location of power sockets or turn on the taps to check water pressure. Try to look  past the surface level things like décor and furniture, as this can all be changed later.  

If everything adds up to the property being right for you, arrange another viewing perhaps at a different time of day, so you can get a feel for how the rooms, area or overall experience of the property differs between day and night. 

It’s worth asking for how long the property has been on the market, as well as any possibilities for future extensions. We always encourage you to come to the viewing with a good list of questions and the Sara Grech team will answer them there and then or get back to you with any information you've requested.  

"When our clients ask us questions, it’s actually beneficial for us as well as them, because it tells us a lot about what they consider as top priorities,” says Sales Manager Alexis Cachia, "this makes the whole process of finding “the one” a lot smoother because we’re already matching up your property needs with our curated portfolio".

What should I consider before putting in an offer? 

You’ve explored the area, found your dream home and your finance is ready to go; now you just  need to make sure that your offer gets accepted.  

We always recommend talking to the agent you’ve been in contact with first, as they will have a  better idea of what the seller is looking for and what offer will be taken seriously. The decision to go in high, low or simply agree to the terms of the offer is ultimately your decision, but keep your initial affordability range in mind to avoid overstepping the mark. 

Agent Hannah Grech says, "As a first-time buyer, you’re actually in a really strong position because you don’t need to wait for a current property sale to go through. Acting quickly is one of the best ways to make your offer more attractive, so you avoid missing out on your dream home". 

Looking for some inspiration? 

We have an impressive, soon-to-be renovated selection of one, two and three bedroom flats  available in Birkirkara, starting from €245,000. Centrally located and will be finished to a  spectacular standard throughout to cater for all the comforts of modern living. 

We are working with trusted developers to bring these properties to completion and market on time, so it’s a perfect choice for first-time buyers who are in a position to act quickly on this opportunity. As part of the agreement, all properties are being exclusively sold through Sara  Grech and are available on a 'Buy Now, Pay Later' finance initiative to support first-time buyers.  

Get in touch with us about the properties above or check out our full property portfolio here.

Category: Lifestyle

The perception of women in business has changed radically over the past few decades. One woman who has achieved more than most in life and business is Sara Grech: Businesswoman, CEO of Malta’s leading estate agency, Founder & Chairman of The Service Guide Dogs Malta Foundation, and an influential woman of change. 

Today, her company Sara Grech is run from its head offices in Mriehel and Sliema. We caught up with Sara to ask about her views on women in business, her journey in real estate so far, and the decision-making behind the businesses recent rebrand. 

From a very young age, you clearly had a desire to go off and explore your own interests, despite the people, sometimes even family members, who had put barriers in your way. Can you explain a bit more about that?

"To succeed, you need to have the passion and ability to carry out your vision, despite what everyone else around you thinks. Growing up I was part of a family with very strong opinions and after a short while of working in the family business, I decided to go off and start something on my own. 

I experienced comments related to my gender and ability from the very moment I started my career, such as: “You won’t be taken seriously” or “You’ll get bored and soon give up to get married and have children”. This made me push harder to prove myself. I needed to be great at what I did, because average was never an option."

What was the skill that made you stand out?

"When I look back, I can see a young girl with courage and determination. I viewed things in black and white and believed that gender didn’t matter. I knew that if I worked hard and smart enough, I could accomplish what any man could. I believed in myself; I believed in my opinions and my thoughts were clear. Preparation and dedication also helped along the way!"

You’ve been a popular name in the real estate industry for a number of years now, but do you remember the first big deal that you ever made?

"Yes, I certainly do! An agency was advertising a large block exclusively and I noticed that they hadn’t sold any units yet. I did my research and found out who the owners were and decided to give them a call and set a meeting. I went with a clear plan and had a goal in mind: I wanted exclusive rights to sell the entire block and I would do it in three weeks.

In real estate, the most successful agents have gone on more listing presentations than anybody else, which means they have also lost a lot more listings. It’s about taking leaps of faith, trusting your ability and not being afraid to fail.

By the way, they went for it. I immediately left the appointment, went to the bank, and asked them to help me by sending a representative to my open day on Sunday. During this time no agents ever did open days on a Sunday. No one worked on a Sunday; however, I didn’t care what day it was! 

My thoughts were on the clients and the opportunity. The event was such a success, that I managed to sell all units and started to create a name for the brand that I was about to build."

What’s the biggest misconception about working in estate agency? 

"It’s no secret, that estate agents are one of the least trusted professions. But, our personal values and beliefs make us who we are and that shines through in the work we do. My way of working is my way of life. So, when Engel & Völkers rebranded to Sara Grech, we also introduced some new values to better reflect who we are and what we stand for. 

Always seek the light  is about transparency and seeking clarity in everything we do. We speak the truth to our clients because honesty builds trust.

Build on solid foundations shows our belief in the importance of continuous learning, both in the early days but also on a regular basis to always stay sharp.

Reach for higher ground reflects our focus on the bigger picture. We know that the actions and decisions that we take today will impact everyone’s tomorrow at some point, and we’re passionate about improving the industry for women, but also for everyone else."

Many people think that raising kids, taking time off in business and raising a family must mean that you can’t be as effective or influential as a man in the business world. How have you proved that wrong?

"I think the work life balance is one of my strengths. When I open the office door I work, when I open my front door at home, I am mum, and today very luckily nanna to Louie. I was 23 when my son Benjamin was born. I had a new business, and I was new to parenthood which no one can really prepare you for. I went on to become a parent of two more children, my girls, Semira, and Hannah.  

I think my method of being able to compartmentalise the two helped me achieve my daily goals. The time I spent with my children was without distraction, so if I was with them, I was really with them. The time invested in my work and my home life, meant that my children never missed out on anything, which is one of my greatest achievements to this day."

Have you experienced sexism in the property market or the workplace? 

"Being a woman in the real estate industry has been exciting, messy, and adventurous. Men dominate the industry. Success came to me largely because I worked hard to become very good at what I did. This allowed me to navigate sexism, discrimination and the "hbieb" network, where I was often judged and discounted before I even said a word. Some women feel left out, left behind and at times voiceless. This has changed today although change is still needed. 

I think my worst experience of sexism in the workplace, was when I walked into a board room full of men to close a deal and one man commented that he didn’t know if he wanted me there or if he would rather have a drink with me. I was there to conclude a business deal – not to be bought a drink!"

Talk to us about the recent rebrand: why did you decide to change from Engel & Völkers to Sara Grech? What’s new? What’s staying the same?

"When we placed the business under the brand name Engel & Völkers, I went into it with an open mind and the intention to learn. Today I can say that this ten-year journey has paid off as we’ve sharpened up our processes and learnt a lot about how a renowned, European agency operates successfully. 

However, the goal has always been to remain true to our values and leave a positive influence in the long term. Even though people might not have seen the brand name “Sara Grech” advertised; wherever you go in Malta, Sara Grech is synonymous with property. In my mind, there was no choice. We had to return to our roots and become a local brand once again.

You can still expect the same professionalism, but our focus will be on connecting more deeply with homeowners and investors through transparency. Money is important but it’s not the driving force behind our motivation. This rebrand is about positioning Sara Grech as the selective agency of choice, with a quality portfolio and individually skilled agents who work with honesty and take the stress out of house-hunting. 

Now, we’re setting our sights on the future, applying all we’ve learnt along the way and officially rebranding under one name - Sara Grech - the agency that’s opening doors of opportunity."

Do you have any parting words of advice to young women starting out in the real estate industry? 

"The first thing I would tell anyone is go with your gut feeling, your instinct is right. Success comes through your passion, vision and ambition but it’s only through hard work, honesty, confidence and a clear mind that you can get there. I think women on the whole, in my experience, bring a unique set of qualities to the business world. Find your strengths and have the courage to take those leaps of faith."

Keep up to date with Sara Grech’s next exciting chapter, by following us on social media.