has two official languages – Dutch and French (plus a small German speaking
area). Most professionals in Brussels speak both, and often English as well.
Belgium is a
Monarchy and a federal state with three regions:
According to the issue in question, that can mean four legal codes. The legal
system is based historically on the "code Napoléon" and in some respects is
quite close to the French system.
Belgium and the EU including links to Belgian government and Tourist
There are no restrictions on
foreigners who wish to buy property in
has become more popular for foreign ownership recently due to the head quarters
of the EU being based at Brussels. This has resulted in rising property values,
especially close to Brussels, although less expensive property can be found in
the countryside. Main languages are French, Flemmish and German.
Capital Gains tax is chargeable on all income from the sale of property which
includes non resident companies and is liable at the basic rate, which would be
You should give careful consideration to whether you’re better off buying or
renting property in Belgium.
If you’re staying for only a short time,
e.g. less than five years, you’re probably better off renting. Owning your own
home isn’t considered such an important an investment as it is in some other
countries. Although property prices ‘boomed’ in the late ’80s and early ’90s,
increases have slowed and high transfer (conveyance) costs discourage home
ownership as an investment. The tax benefits of home ownership vary greatly.
While property in
Belgium is cheap by UK
standards, the various fees, charges and deposits associated with buying a house
and securing a mortgage are likely to discourage all but the most determined
buyers. There’s no mortgage relief on income tax and, if you resell the property
within five years, you’ll be hit with capital gains tax. The good news is that
mortgages are fairly easy to secure, but don’t forget that total transfer fees
will add 15 to 20 per cent to the price of a house, and there’s VAT at 21 per
cent to reckon with if you buy a new home.
Houses for sale are advertised in
newspapers and through estate agencies, or you can use the ‘sign hunting’
method, i.e. looking for ‘For Sale’ ( à vendre/te koop) signs on
available properties. Listed prices are understood to be negotiable, and you
normally make an offer that is somewhat below what you’re prepared to pay and
‘barter’ with the vendor according to how keen you are to buy and how eager he
is to sell. Having an estate agent to assist you with the process is usually
sensible, even if you end up paying more than you would if you bought privately.
Once a price is agreed, the buyer and the
vendor sign a sales agreement ( compromis de vente), which is usually
secured with a non-refundable deposit equal to 10 per cent of the purchase
price. At this point, the buyer has four months in which to obtain the balance
of the money (in most cases by securing a mortgage) before the sale is
concluded. In order to ‘buy time’, it’s sometimes possible to purchase an option
on the property for a period, during which the vendor may not sell it to anyone
else; if you back out of the deal, you forfeit the option payment, so you should
negotiate as small a sum as the vendor will accept.
The actual transfer or conveyance of the
property must be done by a notary ( notaire/notaris), who charges a fixed
fee of 1 to 4 per cent of the purchase price. Generally, you must have a
property surveyed, which will cost around €100, but your biggest expense will be
the registration of the sale – a massive 12.5 per cent of the purchase price.
It’s possible to buy a property at auction, in which case you may save money,
but the notary fees are doubled and you have only one month in which to secure a
mortgage and complete the transaction.
process may involve different steps: Some agents and owners ask the buyer to
sign a commitment to buy (Koopintenties or Aankoopaanbod/Offre d'achat):
that means that the buyer is engaged, but not the seller
- An option
gives the buyer the right to buy without any commitment, except if it is a
(Verkoopcompromis/compromis de vente): the
sale is closed, except if the buyer asks that the contract is subject to
financing (that gives usually one or two months to confirm the deal). This
- It is usual to
pay 5-10% of the price at this stage as a deposit, but the amount is
blocked by the notaries and not given to the seller until a notarised deed
of sale (notariële akte/acte notarié) is signed. Special
regulations apply to apartments and houses that are still being built in
order to protect the buyer during the works
official deed of sale must be signed by the parties and the notary
within four months after the purchase agreement
- Depending on
the Region, some special analyses and documents might be required (soil
pollution analysis for instance)
- Some buildings
and sites are listed and protected. This limits the possibilities for
alterations but sometimes allows the building to qualify for special
subsidies for renovation. Further information is available from the Regions
Buyers who sign an
exclusive purchase option/commitment to buy (Koopintenties or
Aankoopaanbod/Offre d'achat), can back out before signing the purchase
agreement (Verkoopcompromis/compromis de vente) but will lose any fee
paid to reserve the property. The purchase agreement is the definitive agreement
for the sale. Once signed, it is not possible to back out or change any of the
terms. The notarised deed of sale (notariële akte/acte notarié) is a
registration of the sale. In theory, therefore, there is no let-out clause.
However, it is possible to have a suspensive clause in the contract that makes
it conditional on the buyer being given a mortgage (other conditions are also
possible). This might allow compensation to the seller, but the two parties are
free to choose terms. It is also possible to cancel the contract, but this is a
procedure that can involve loss of registration fees or, to avoid this, court
intervention or formal arbitration.
When buying, it is possible
to put an arbitration clause in the contract so that problems can be resolved
without going to court. Arbitration can be in English, if both parties and the
arbitrator agree. Translators are also allowed to be present to help the
Mortgages are available from various banking and mortgage providers. Repayment
terms and the rights of the mortgager will be agreed within a written contract
before a sale is agreed. Off shore companies can be an advantage depending on
current rates and individual tax breaks.
Solicitor / Lawyer:
solicitor/lawyer or notary should be used to draw written contracts for
submission to the public notary.
involved in buying property in
Belgium are generally quite high.
Property registration should incur duty of 12.5% for land and buildings is
payable by the buyer.
VAT is charged at 21% on buildings less than two years old with the same rate
applicable for the renovation of old buildings.
Notary fees will cost between 0.1-0.5% of the properties value.
V.A.T is also applicable for foreign property investments at the relevant
rate of their country.
payable on the deemed rental value of the property which is dependent on the
location and use of the property as set in the "Cadastal Register". National
rates are between 1.25-2.5% and municipal and provincial surcharges also apply.