'Bonanza' for Belgian homebuyers

7th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

7 October 2004, BRUSSELS – Now could be the ideal moment to buy a house or flat in Belgium, with mortgage rates at their lowest levels in five years, it was reported on Thursday.

7 October 2004

BRUSSELS – Now could be the ideal moment to buy a house or flat in Belgium, with mortgage rates at their lowest levels in five years, it was reported on Thursday.

La Derniere Heure newspaper said that Fortis and Dexia banks are advertising a fixed-rate, 20-year mortgage rate of 5.65 percent, while KBC is offering a 5.55 percent rate.

Vinciane Cardinael, Dexia's credit products manager, said the bank's new rate was attractive in the light of rising house prices.

Many Belgians, he argued, were struggling to get onto the housing ladder.

"We hope that these very low rates will encourage consumers," he said.

But the good news could be short lived, La Derniere Heure warned.

It said mortgage rates could rise again soon, particularly after next month's American elections.

Cardinael however insisted any hikes would be relatively modest.

"The analysts estimate that rates should only be increased by a maximum of one percent in 2005," he said.

La Derniere Heure stressed that the rates advertised by banks often differ from those actually given.

It said there was usually a margin for negotiation between bank managers and customers.

Some banks only offer the best rates to customers who buy other financial products from them, such
as insurance.

That practice is dubious, since Belgian law bans connected sales.

La Derniere Heure praised the banks Argenta and KBC for not forcing the customer's hand in this way.

It also commended them for not, unlike many banks, charging customers expensive fees and giving them too little time to make up their mind.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news

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