Buying a house in Belgium: what you should pay attention to

Every year, thousands of Dutch people buy a house in Belgium. In the past, it was mainly tax refugees who settled permanently in Belgium. Nowadays people are mainly looking for cheaper homes and more space. What also tempts many compatriots to move to Belgium are the relatively low land prices there. While prices for building plots in the Netherlands are skyrocketing, lower land prices make building in Belgium a lot more attractive. It sometimes makes a difference of 30 to 40 percent in the price. In other words: in our country people live in a terraced house, while in our southern neighbors they own a detached house with a large garden for the same money. A telling slogan in that context: “The Belgians get more house for the same money”. And not unimportantly, without restrictive building regulations.

Buying or renting a house in Belgium?

You must first consider for yourself whether you are better off buying or renting real estate in Belgium. If you only want to stay in Belgium for a short period of time, for example for less than five years, you would probably be better off renting an apartment. Owning your own home is considered a less important investment here than in many other European countries.

Prices of owner-occupied homes in Belgium are relatively low

In 2018, almost 5,500 Dutch people settled in Belgium permanently, according to Statistics Netherlands. That is roughly 15% of all Dutch emigrants in that year. The country thus leaves other popular emigration countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain far behind. It is not without reason that so many Dutch people move to Belgium:

  • Houses in Belgium are cheaper. Starters in particular, young people who are looking for their own home, will be better served by our southern neighbors.
  • Since 2001, emigrants have been able to take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction in the Netherlands for a Belgian home, provided they work in the Netherlands.
  • Those moving on, homeowners who would like to move into a larger home, are also more likely to find the living convenience they want in Belgium.
  • What is also striking are the reasonable land prices in Belgium. Where municipalities in the Netherlands charge you exorbitant prices for a plot, the Belgian government does not strip people like that.

Step-by-step plan for buying a house

Anyone considering buying a house in the Netherlands would be wise to inform themselves extensively about all the ins and outs in advance, for example via a step-by-step plan for buying a house. But this advice is even more important when buying a house in Belgium, with different regulations and customs. Although homes in Belgium are relatively cheap compared to many other European countries, the various costs and fees involved in purchasing a home in Belgium, including the required securities for a mortgage, are causing many potential buyers to abandon their purchase. to see.

How to finance a house in Belgium

Dutch banks generally no longer provide mortgages on Belgian real estate. So you must take out this at a Belgian bank. Please note that some Belgian banks are not prepared to do this if the entire income is earned in the Netherlands.

High transfer costs and VAT

As far as the mortgage is concerned, there is no tax deduction for income tax in Belgium. And if you have to sell the house again within five years, you will be subject to capital tax. The good news is that mortgage loans do not require excessive collateral. But you should not forget that all transfer costs can increase the price of a house by 15 to 20%. In addition, you must take into account that when purchasing a new home, VAT of 21% is due.

Hiring a real estate agent pays off

Homes offered for sale are presented in newspapers and by real estate agents. However, you can also use the “sign hunting method”, which means looking for ” à vendre / for sale ” signs on the street. You should consider the stated prices as a basis for negotiation. You make an offer that is slightly below the price you are willing to pay and then negotiate a final price with the owner. The outcome of those negotiations depends entirely on how much you want to buy the property and how much the owner wants to get rid of it.

Real estate agent in Belgium protected profession

It is not wrong to have a real estate agent assist you throughout the entire process, even if you will end up paying slightly more than if you had purchased the property privately. After all, the profession of real estate agent is legally protected in Belgium. Only those who have been admitted by the BIV (Professional Institute of Real Estate Agents) may carry out real estate activities in Belgium.

The purchase contract

Once a price has been agreed upon, the buyer and seller sign a purchase agreement (compromis de vente), which is normally covered by a non-refundable deposit equal to 10% of the purchase price. From that moment on, the buyer has four months to pay the remaining amount, usually in the form of a mortgage. Only then will the purchase be completely completed. Sometimes it is possible to stipulate a longer time limit, requesting the seller for a pre-emptive right. This means that the home can be sold to someone else during that specific period. If you still want to withdraw from the deal, you will lose the amount you paid for the pre-emptive right. You should therefore negotiate the lowest possible amount that the seller will accept.

Transfer via notary

The actual transfer of ownership can only take place with the intervention of a notary (notaire), for which a fixed fee of 3 to 5% of the purchase price is required. You are completely free in your choice of a notary. It is recommended to first submit the home for inspection, which costs approximately 100 euros. However, the largest cost item is the registration of the purchase, which constitutes 10% of the total purchase price! It is also possible to buy a home at auction, which can save you money. But then you pay double the notary costs and you only have one month to take out a mortgage and effect the transfer.