Purchasing a new house or an apartment in a new building in Brussels can be a great investment for expats moving to Belgium.
If you’re moving to Belgium for work, buying your own apartment allows you to put down roots in your new city, and with house prices still rising (albeit at modest levels), you could secure a great long-term investment that pays dividends even after you leave the country.
Getting onto the property ladder in a new country can be complicated, as each system has its own quirks, and you may need to rely on translators to get to grips with the jargon.
Johannes Degroote of the real estate developer Zabra explains some key things expats need to know when buying a new-build home in Belgium.
Zabra Real Estate
A family business with a long-term vision, Zabra Real Estate has 30 years of experience in residential development in Belgium. Their small, dedicated team offers a vast portfolio of efficient, sustainable and quality new-build housing developments across Belgium..
A new apartment in Brussels can be a great long-term investment
“As the home of the European Union and NATO, Brussels is very popular with international businesses”, says Johannes. “This means that many workers on short or medium-term assignments move here, with their employer usually arranging and paying for accommodation on their behalf.”
But what if you’re planning on staying in Brussels for longer? If you’re looking to settle in Belgium, “a new-build apartment could represent a great opportunity”, advises Johannes – and with no punitive laws in Belgium to put off foreign property purchasers, there is little standing in your way.
“Buying your own city pad means that you’ll be able to benefit from great location and top quality furnishings”, says Johannes, all with the knowledge that “should you decide to leave, you’ll be able to let the property out to another expat working in Brussels”.
When to buy new property in Belgium: purchasing an off-plan home
Buying a home off-plan is very common in Belgium, especially in highly sought-after areas such as Brussels, where, Johannes warns, “developments are largely reserved before the build has even started”.
While early sales are helpful for developers because they help finance the overall build, Johannes says that “they also allow buyers to secure the best plots, and on some occasions even grab a better deal”.
Developers (or their real estate agents) generally start marketing properties as soon as permits to build them have been granted. “When you visit a marketing office, as well as being able to visit an example show home, you should be able to view 3D images and models of the development”, advises Johannes.
New property taxes in Belgium
New properties are taxed differently to older homes in Belgium. You’ll need to pay VAT instead of registration tax.
New apartments are divided into a piece of land price and a piece of construction price. On the land price you pay 12.5% registration tax, on the construction price you pay 21% VAT.
Rules protecting new-build buyers in Belgium
When you buy a new home in Belgium, you’ll need to pay a reservation fee (5%) to secure your plot; but this 5% is deducted from the outstanding amount, says Johannes.
Compared to some other countries in Europe, Belgium offers strong protections for new-build home buyers in case something goes wrong, with fines for housebuilders who fail to finish their builds in line with the original timescale.
Most properties in Belgium are sold as freehold too, so you also won’t need to worry about paying any punitive taxes on the land while you’re living in your property.
Buying from Belgian developers can be cost effective
Rather than buying furnished apartments, some home movers choose to build their own properties by purchasing a plot of land and employing architects and builders – “but this can be an expensive business in Belgium”, advises Johannes.
You’ll need to pay registration tax on the land, notary fees, insurance premiums and bills for land surveyors, energy surveys and stability surveys. With this in mind, “choosing a ‘turnkey’ option of buying a home directly from a developer can ease the stress of moving to a new property and ensure you end up living in a higher quality environment”, says Johannes. He concludes by emphasizing that many developers in Belgium use sustainable building practices: another advantage to buying a new property from the new generation of eco-conscious Belgian architects.
Johannes Degroote worked as a independent real estate agent in Brussels for several Real Estate developers such as Château Promotion (now Candor) and Skyline Europe. For the last two years he has been head of sales at Zabra Real Estate.Explore money saving options when buying a home