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Buying a property in Belgium: A beginner's guide to owning a home
Buying a property is a long-term investment. This is due to the 12.5% registration tax imposed on property purchases on top of legal fees. A capital gains tax of 16.5% on properties sold within five years is another deterrent. The cost of buying and selling a home in Belgium is estimated to be around 20% of the purchase price. Buying a new-build is more expensive, as VAT is charged on properties less than two years old.
Establishing contact with local estate agencies is useful. While it’s common practice in Belgium for the seller to pay the agency, potential buyers can recruit an agent as a property searcher.
Once you’ve found a home, it helps to have a notary already in place. It is typically the seller’s notary who drafts the sales agreement (compromis de vente/ koopovereenkomst), which is legally binding on both parties. If the buyer backs out there is a small fee, but the seller can withdraw without penalty. You can take your own notary on top of the one chosen by the seller.
A down payment is required from the buyer (usually 10% of the total cost). The closing notarial deed (acte notarié/notariële akte) follows within four months, with the remainder of the money then changing hands. Before you sign any agreement, make sure you have a surveyor check the property. It’s difficult to put in a claim on the former owner about an undisclosed problem once the sale is completed.
Buying a plot of land and building your own home is also popular in Belgium. An architect will help with the necessary permits and you can employ a contractor to oversee the project.