Living in Belgium: everything you need to know before buying

Over the past few years, the French have increasingly yielded to the charms of Belgium. But as a foreigner, what do you need to be aware of before buying?

Higher costs 

Before buying the house of your dreams, it is important to know that in Belgium, the legal costs are usually higher than in France. 

  • Costs linked to the purchase: these include the registration duties and notary’s costs and, in Brussels, amount to 12.5% of the purchase value of the property, costs and expenses of between EUR 800 and EUR 1,100 and notary’s fees ranging from EUR 1,500 to over EUR 3,000, depending on the value of the property. However, under certain conditions and if you opt in favour of a home in Brussels, you can benefit from a system which provides for a reduction in the taxable basis for registration duties on the first EUR 175,000. 
  • The pre-contract: once the pre-contract has been signed before a notary, the buyer transfers a deposit of 10% of the selling price to the third-party account of their notary. 
  • There is no right of withdrawal. An offer to buy (without conditions) has the effect of a sale.

Lower average prices

Certain differences with France may also be observed in terms of average prices.

When buying in Brussels, you should expect to pay on average between EUR 2,500 and EUR 5,000 per m2 for an apartment, which is two to three times less expensive than in Paris. 

For a house in the popular communes of Brussels (south-east of the city), allow at least EUR 450,000 and up to over EUR 2,000,000 for a villa or a luxury mansion. These prices fall as you move towards the north-west of the city.

What should you check before buying?

  • The surface areas: in Belgium, they are calculated in gross m2 including the interior walls and half the party walls, unlike the Carrez act in France, which requires the net surface areas to be given as soon as the property is put up for sale.
  • The EPB and electricity certificate: these will provide several items of information about the energy performance and electrical quality of the property. If the electricity is not compliant, set aside a budget to cover the costs of bringing it into line, as you will have to carry out the work within 18 months of the purchase.
  • Compliance with urban planning regulations: check the official plans of the housing unit at the urban planning of the commune in question. If certain annexes or other modifications to the volume or external appearance of the building have been undertaken without a permit, you may face issues and have to put the situation in order or return the property to its pristine condition at your own expense. 
  • The most recent minutes: to gain an idea of the financial health of the joint owners’ association and any work already carried out or planned by this association in the short and medium term, remember to consult the minutes of the three most recent general meetings. 
  • Asbestos-free: because unlike in France, there is no obligation for the seller to submit an asbestos diagnosis.
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