Purchase a Property in Belgium
Purchase a Property in BelgiumUpdated on Monday 27th May 2019
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Although purchasing a property in Belgium is a process that can take some time and implies a number of steps and paperwork, some Belgian residents tend to prefer to purchase their own home when possible, rather than renting properties. Personal preference and the field in which they work may have an impact on this decision. Similarly, business owners in Belgium may prefer to purchase a property that will be used as the headquarters for the company, as opposed to renting an office space or a building.
Because the country offers good living conditions and is well connected to other EU countries, buying a property in Belgium can be a popular choice among expats looking for a second home as well as for those interested in establishing their permanent residence in the country. There are no restrictions on purchasing properties in Belgium for foreign nationals, thus this step is one that can be easily accomplished once an interested individual has found a property to his liking. In regards to the required documents, foreign investors must prepare the required paperwork and it is important to have all of the required documents. There are three phases of the documents filling procedure in regards to purchasing a property in Belgium. We present these, and a fourth step, in the list below:
- • One: the buyer must sign a purchase commitment, therefore he will officially be tied to the sale. However, the seller can back out of the deal without penalty.
- • Two: concluding the sale agreement where the details of the contract are listed. This is the stage when usually a deposit is required.
- • Three: the notarized deed, it transfers the ownership of the property and it must be signed no later than four months after the sale agreement has been made.
- • Four: this step includes the registration of the transfer deed in the Land Registry. One of our lawyers in Belgium can help you during this stage.
The four steps briefly described above are merely an outline of the process. In practice, the process can last longer when the buyer will also perform due diligence of the property or when there are more documents required.
Property for sale in Belgium can be more affordable compared to other neighboring countries and depending on the chosen city or region. This is why many foreign nationals, entrepreneurs or employed individuals, will consider this step.
When moving to Belgium or starting a business here, the future decisions related to real estate ownership or tenancy are important issues to take into consideration. The team at our law firm in Belgium can help individuals with adequate counseling, legal advice, and representation in cases involving real estate.
Property sale/purchase agreements in Belgium
The purchase contracts signed in Belgium are written in either Dutch or French, but it is mandatory for the signatories to completely understand the details of the contract. Therefore, translation services may be needed in order to explain the contract. When a translator or interpreter is hired, the respective costs will be handled by the buyer. Likewise, all of the costs related to translating his personal documents into Dutch or French will be included in the overall costs for property purchase.
A purchase commitment can forgo the sale/purchase agreement and even though this is not a mandatory document, it is often requested by real-estate agents from the buyer as it binds him to the respective property. In some cases, a small deposit or holding fee is requested, and if the respective purchaser decides to back out of the sale, the amount will not be returned. However, the deposit is not mandatory. Exit clauses are also included in most cases, and they stipulate that the agreement can be dissolved without penalty if the buyer is unable to secure a mortgage or if the property has significant damage. All of these terms, the existing clauses and the purchase commitment will differ from one case to the other and will depend on the real estate agency with which the buyer chooses to work and on the preferences of the seller, if applicable.
Legal requirements for buying a property in Belgium
Each transaction must be made in the presence of a notary and his fees are fixed by the state as a percentage of the selling price of the property. Registration fees apply after the property has been registered at the registry office within four months from the completion of the sale.
Deposits must be paid into an escrow account or can be held by a notary. The fee settles at approximately 10 percent of the purchase price.
As for mortgages, the respective provider requests a professional evaluation of the property, not a structural survey. In this way, an estimation of the property value of the will be made. In terms of rates, they can be both fixed or variable, and loans are usually granted for a 10 years period or more. The cost of the monthly mortgage does not have to be higher than a third of the monthly income. However, in many cases the rent fees can be higher than the mortgage rates.
The notarized deed it the final document concluded between the buyer and the seller and it is one that formally transfers the ownership from one party to the other. As previously, stated, this document is to be signed in front of a Belgian notary within four months of the sale agreement. Once this takes place the necessary changes will be registered in the Land Registry.
Not only the title is registered in the cadaster or Land register but also other transactions related to that real estate, such as mortgages and leases that exceed a certain duration. One of our attorneys in Belgium can give you more details about the actual real estate title registration in the cadaster as well as the documents needed for the submission for registration.
Some buyers will choose to carry out due diligence and this is highly recommended in all cases for assessing the true value of the property, the environmental issues and any liabilities that might not be apparent during the initial viewings. This step will usually take place before the sale/purchase agreement is executed.
The taxes for buying a property in Belgium
The costs of purchasing a property in Belgium are not only those associated with the purchase price. These can include pre-purchase costs:
- Valuation costs: the valuation expert will charge a fee of approximately 200 euros for a valuation (useful for finding out the real value of the property).
- Filing fees: these apply to those who make a home loan application and are paid to the bank, at its price scales.
- Deed registration fees: these are payable to the notary and include those for the mortgage deed.
- Notary fees: these include the costs for the notarized deed and any additional costs for translations, as needed.
- Stamp duty: this is a tax that applies throughout the country and varies according to region.
Other costs that can be included after the purchase are the withholding tax, the insurance premiums and the joint ownership costs for those buyers who choose to purchase an apartment (fees payable to the owners’ association).
For more information related to taxes in Belgium please reach out to us for legal advice and consultancy.
The VAT cost is also one to take into consideration for new properties in Belgium, apart from the property tax. As far as the property tax is concerned, the percentage is set forth by the three regions in the country, for example, it can be a certain amount for houses located in the Brussels-Capital Region compared to those in the Flemish Region. For newly constructed real estate, the property tax does not apply for the first year of occupation.
Some deductions from the property tax can apply in selected cases. Some planned reductions in the Brussels-Capital region can include those for modest houses, those for individuals or children who are disabled (or if the head of the household is a war invalid) when the property is a classified one as well as in several other cases. The reduction percentages differ, with valued of 10%, 20%, 25% and others depending on the type of reduction. Two types of situations in which these reductions do not apply are when the building is a non-profit one (an education center, a healthcare organization, etc.) or when the immovable property is owned by a public international organization or by a foreign state. One of our lawyers in Belgium can give you more information about the applicable tax law and the available reductions in particular cases.
For more information regarding purchasing a property in Belgium or any other legal issue please contact our law firm in Belgium.