Making an offer
If you find a place in Belgium that you want to buy, you will usually be asked to make a formal offer in writing. The system in Belgium is to adjust the price. This means that you can offer below the asking price. The dealer will then accept or deny your offer.
If you are going through an agent to purchase the property, they can provide you with a template or help prepare an offer on your behalf.
Once the seller accepts your offer, you may be asked to sign a commitment to purchase the contract. It legally covers the buyer in the sale, although the seller can still return to this level.
Hire a notary
You will need a notary to represent you during your home buying process. Notaries are responsible for attracting notarized deeds transferring legal ownership of property.
A Belgian notary can provide you with the necessary legal representation, although you can also choose to seek the help of a Belgian lawyer. The notary must belong to the National Chamber of Notary Solicitors who are regulated by the Flemish Bar Association.
Arrange a survey
If you are carrying out a Belgian debt, your lender may insist on a valuation survey. Even if this is not the case, surveying the property is a wise move as it will mark any defects and ensure that the building is properly valued.
If any major defects that reduce the value of the property are identified in the valuation survey, you have the right to reduce your initial offer accordingly.
Most contracts in Belgium must be in Dutch or French. It is a statutory requirement that the sponsor fully explains the contract. This means that you have the right to bring a translator and each section is explained in your language.
If you are looking for a translation into English or German, then you should be able to find a real estate agent or notary who speaks your fluency. For other languages, you will need to hire a translator and pay the translator’s fees yourself.
Once the contract is signed, both parties are tied up in the sale. The seller may not return even if they receive a higher offer.
The property contract of sale in Belgium should be a minimum:
- Identification and capability of all buyers and sellers.
- A clear description of the property, condition, and surface area.
- Agreed price with details of deposit payment.
- Date and time limit for signing title deeds.
- Rental status, if the property is to be purchased or leased.
- Clauses or conditions about construction or renovation work.
Description of construction of insurance system
Once the contract is signed, you must register the sale of the home at the Registry Office within four months of completing the purchase; After this period, registration fees are payable.
At the same time, you will have to pay the deposit, specifying the contracts. This is typically 10% of the asking price and is paid to the customer or escrow account. If you are taking out a Belgian mortgage, the lender will usually arrange how it is done.
The deposit serves as a guarantee and if you make a late sale you will lose it.
Once you sign the contract and pay the deposit, you should get the key to your Belgian house.
Now, you’re the legal owner and will be liable for paying any bills and municipal taxes on the property. Be sure to register notarized deeds at your local registry office. This must be done within 4 months of the contract being made.
Moving to your Belgian property
Home insurance is not compulsory in Belgium, but you may find that mortgage companies have this requirement. If this is the case, you may have to provide insurance coverage details before taking out the mortgage.
Although ensuring your property is not a legal requirement, both insurance and construction insurance is sensible considerations for protecting your investment and goods.
Utilities & Telecommunications
If you have your own home in Belgium, you are responsible for sorting out electricity, gas, phone, TV, and Internet connection. It is a good idea to consider all these options before proceeding to avoid any unnecessary delays.
Buying land to develop a new home in Belgium
Instead of buying an off-plan home or furnished apartment, some home movers choose their property by purchasing a plot of land and hiring architects and builders – but this can be a costly business in Belgium.
You have to pay registration tax, notary fees, insurance premiums and bills of land surveyors, energy survey, and sustainability survey on land.
When you build a new house in Belgium, you will have to pay a reservation fee (5%) to secure your plot; But it is deducted from the 5% outstanding balance.
Buying a new-build home in Belgium
Buying a new build-home is common in Belgium, especially in highly demanding areas such as Brussels where development is often reserved before construction begins.
The advantage of this is that you are guaranteed to be brand new without the stress of managing a home-building project, which you do when purchasing a plot.
Additionally, many developers in Belgium use sustainable construction practices that ensure that new-built homes are energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.
The downside is that transaction costs are higher than old assets. You will pay 21% VAT instead of a low registration tax on the building, although the price of the land is taxed according to the regional registration tax rates.
Developers usually start marketing properties as soon as they have been permitted to build. When you go to a marketing office, as well as being able to watch an example show at home, you should be able to see 3D drawings and models of development.
Compared to some other countries in Europe, Belgium offers stronger protection for new build-home buyers, with penalties for home builders if something goes wrong, complete their build with the original Buildcell Live Fail.
Sell a property in Belgium
Most properties in Belgium are sold through real estate agents, who charge between 3-5% of the property’s price.
You can also sell property online or elsewhere in Belgium by advertising. This will save agency fees, but when it comes to the exchange of contracts, you have to appoint a notary to act on your behalf.
For more information see our guide to selling a property in Belgium.
Home buying tips in Belgium
- Make sure you have pay property tax. These are a significant percentage of overall costs and vary by region and whether the home is a new-build or old property. Make sure you budget for these, especially if you are buying a property as you sell within the first 5 years then you will be liable for capital gains tax.
- Do in-depth research on the market to understand regional variations rather than looking at the national picture. In some regions, prices may occasionally increase while decreasing overall over the same period. It is worth considering spending some time in an area before purchasing.
- Make sure you are happy before agreeing to buy. In Belgium, you are often asked to sign a “commitment to purchase agreement” at the point of making an offer. It legally covers you in sales unlike countries like the UK, where you can pull at any point before signing the final contract.
- Before doing this, think about investing in a home survey. Your mortgage lender may require an evaluation survey, but this will only mark any major losses or defects. If you are buying an old property, it may be worth paying a few hundred euros for a complete structural survey.
- Ensure that the appropriate exit clauses are included in any agreement.