To make your life easier, here are tips on how to buy property in Belgium. Buying a house in Belgium brings along many questions and needs preparation. This article is intended to answer these questions for you.
Which type of property should i consider?
The first step when buying property in Belgium is obviously looking at what’s available. To ensure that you don’t miss anything you should look at all the possibilities including: – Houses (Maison/Huis) – Apartments (Appartement/Appartementen) – Studios & singlerooms (Studio/Appartement) – New buildings or old buildings(neuve ou ancienne construction). Also be aware that construction offers very different living conditions. If you are not familiar with the area, get informed about this beforehand.
In short: New construction -lots of modern conveniences-low price – in some areas only Old construction – typically more charm but old technology and sometimes even no heating system in the walls (very rare) – low prices in most cases
What is my budget?
When considering your budget keep in mind that your monthly costs will be increased compared to other countries because :
- Belgian VAT(21%) has to be paid on all real estate transactions(sales & rentals) above certain thresholds . For sales it is € 50 000 for new buildings and € 175 000 for existing buildings. This rule also includes buying of property, whether it is your primary home or not!
- Notary fees (around € 2500) are charged by the notaries (typically in banking circles). If you purchase a house through a bank they will include this in your loan. Be aware that these costs can be very high if you let the notaries negotiate on your behalf. This often happens when the seller has chosen to use an agent/notary who is specialized in ‘leasing’ contracts instead of the more common ‘purchase’ contract.
- Costs for notarised legalizations are always paid by the buyer
After adding up these additional costs, you should consider that you still have to pay stamp duty when purchasing real estate which is when you start to get 0% VAT.
This rule also includes buying of property, whether it is your primary home or not!
There are 4 different rates:
- 7% for transactions up to € 50 000
- 10% for sales between €50 000 and € 200 000
- 12% for sale between €200 000 and 2 million Euros
- 13% for sale over 2 million Euros Additions: There is a special rate of 1.5% on “Gavere” which is a little rural area in East Belgium near the French border. However this does not apply when you want to make renovations/additions to an existing building with planning permission.
In the Flemish Region there is a special rule for renovation. Here the value is calculated as follows:
The sale price (excl VAT) is multiplied by 1,5%. The result then forms the base for calculating the real estate tax (excl VAT). This can be reduced to 50% in certain cases. For further information please visit www.agindepaen.be
There are exceptions of course e.g.: most houses here are ‘old’ construction which equals lower prices but also lower technology and no heating system built into walls etc… so most buyers prefer to do renovations/additions with planning permission instead of buying an old construction house.
If you buy a building without any permits or that has major flaws you will have to do renovations yourself and the tax will be calculated as follows: The sale price (excl VAT) is multiplied by 2% + € 38,95. The result then forms the base for calculating the real estate tax (incl VAT).
The Flemish Region has a system called ‘IMI’ which means that you buy a house at a lower price (around 15%) but at some point in time when you sell this house you have to give back the difference of around 15%. Most people tend to wait until they die before giving it back! An important note here is that there are two different rates depending on whether the property was bought before/after April 1st 2003. So check your deeds or ask your lawyer about this because if you sell before you have to pay the difference of around 15% and if you sell after then you will get a refund.
The Walloon Region has a system called ‘Loi Malraux’ which means that they do not charge VAT on renovation/additions with planning permission. Note: here only renovations, not new constructions!
- The buyer has to fill out a form at his local town hall within 4 months from the date of purchase otherwise he is liable to a 25% penalty on top of all costs involved in filling out this form . After having completed it, he still has another 6 weeks time to submit it to the local tax office.
- There are real estate taxes ( as éco-taxes) which are due at the time of registration of real estate deeds, to be paid by the buyer. The rates are : 1% for properties up to € 70000.-€ 80000.- 2% for properties between € 200000 and € 300000 – 3% for properties between € 300 000 and 5 million- 4 % for properties over 5 million. Plus there is a 0.5% surcharge on all these rates if you have not yet submitted your eco tax form or if it has been more than 3 years since you received your deed.
The Brussels Region has its own Rules… Here they calculate ‘Eco Tax’ very much like Wallonia although slightly lower in some cases depending on what you want/need done to the property and/or building: 1% for renovations like replacement of roofs, gutters or central heating etc… up to € 200000 2 % for renovations between €200 001 and € 350 000 3 % for renovations over €350 000 And they do not charge anything on buying a house (no VAT no eco tax) but you must make sure that the seller has his deed. The only thing the buyer has to pay is ‘Estate Agency Fees’ which can be very high in some cases!
- There is ‘Estate Agency Fees’ payable by the buyer. This fee is generally around 8%+VAT and it is payable at the time of signing the deeds. Nevertheless, this percentage may vary from one agency to another.
- There is also registration tax at the time of signing deeds ( 2% ) and stamp duty which can be between € 150.- and € 600.- depending where you buy your house within belgium. The rate in Brussels is 1% but varies from one town to another .
- There are annual charges for ‘Estate Agency Fees’ payable by the owners of real estate which amount to 0,35 % on the cadastral value of the property (which may vary each year). – Plus when you sell a property there will be some costs involved with this request ( lawyers fees etc… )
Note; when buying property in Belgium (https://www.bluehomes.com/Immobilien-Belgien/B/de/debut.html) it is very that you get good advice from good lawyers and/or estate agents as they can be pretty expensive if you do not know what to look for!
The rules may have changed now but keep in mind that usually the seller pays these costs which means that it will cost you a little more when you buy a property.
Additionally there is a system called ‘Recupel’ which means Recupel recycling fee. This system has been going on for years now and basically it is a yearly payment of € 36.- per person living in the house. If the number of occupants changes, they have one month to declare this at their local town hall or else penalties will apply. In my opinion this should be included in your monthly budget because most people don’t know about it and they end up with a big fine!
The above was based on my own personal experiences.