The local property market is complex, with many twists and turns. This tutorial aims to give you some clues about what’s involved when buying a house or an apartment in Belgium. We will try not only to give advice but also put the process into perspective (what are the costs, how long will it take?)
Here are the topics that we’ve covered:
1) What type of real estate do you want? Residential or commercial? Flat or house? New build or existing building?
2) Price range for comparable properties
3) An indication of the budget required for different types of real estate, expressed as a percentage of total cost of purchase. I am guessing this will be closer to 25 % if purchasing new and a lot less if buying pre-owned. There are so many variables to consider but here is a guide to give you an idea of what is involved:
This guide assumes you have already purchased your property and now need to register it with the local authorities. It can be done as a separate process or as part of buying your home. Either way it’s worth knowing the next steps!
Step 1 – Decide whether to do this yourself, use a notaire or make use of a company that offers this service . They will charge from 0 % up for their services which usually include taking care of all documents and submitting them, they also offer insurance in case things go wrong etc…They will charge 35% VAT on top of all their costs for us foreigners. You can also do it through a notaire who will charge from 1% to 2% depending on the type of transaction, a friend recently saved nearly €2000 by using a new discount notaire . I am going to continue with this article as if you decide to use a company – make sure they are experienced and have been recommended or used by people you trust!
Step 2 – Check whether your property is CE (a building that complies with European standards such as windows that open etc..) or non CE . This has an influence on what kind of renovation works you may want to carry out. A non-CE property means there is no access to government grants available for home improvement projects which makes it a lot less convenient.
Step 3 – You will need to make up a list of renovation projects and proof of costs . There is no set amount but if they are not substantial you may be asked why you want to make them. If they are only cosmetic the authorities will advise you not to bother, especially if it’s an old property.
Step 4 – Depending on your construction type (new-build, flat, detached house etc…) you may be required to provide copies of building plans or other documentation verifying what has been done in case modifications were made since the original construction was carried out. It could be that ceilings have been lowered significantly for example which would invalidate previous ceiling measurements! This is quite common with older properties where the roof is converted into an extra floor.
Step 5 – Submit your application . This can be done without the notaire but you will need to provide proof that you have paid tax on any financial gain made since purchasing your property (withholding tax of 27.50% + 10% of the amount over €10,000). The authorities check his online and if there are problems they will contact you for more information or ask you to pay additional taxes! You can also do this step through a notaire who will take care of everything first time round with no hassle. Don’t forget to notify your bank of any changes in ownership so they can update their records on your credit file. It’s always worth checking with them what info they require.
Step 6 – Your bank may need to approve the new ownership . A quick call or email before submitting your documents should be enough for them not to show any problems later on.
Step 7 – Once everything has been approved by both parties you will receive a certificate of occupancy (Attestation de Conformité) through the post, this is valid for 5 years after which time all renovation work must have been completed. You are now free to make your renovations and enjoy your beautiful home in Belgium (https://www.bluehomes.com/Immobilien-Belgien/B/de/debut.html)!
I find it more cost effective to use companies providing these services rather than use an expensive notaire but if you are confident enough to do it yourself then that’s fine also. I think most people would prefer using a company because of the peace of mind it brings, also it doesn’t cost that much more.
Extra Tips: These are just some extra thoughts I can add from my experience on buying a property in Belgium – After you have purchased your home and had all approvals/permits, make sure to notify your insurance company so they can update their records with accurate information. Also ask for a legalised copy of the certificate or occupancy (Attestation de Conformité) which you may need if there is ever a problem with authorities at some point in the future e.g if you decide to rent it out. Make sure to store these documents somewhere safe! Some notaires offer this service but charge double what agencies do – around €200 euros for example.
You can’t really rent out your property unless you have permission from the local authorities (the commune) and this must be applied for and approved before you can start using it as an income. Once you do however, they advertise the address of all approved properties on their website which is very useful if you want to increase awareness of your home.