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From securing a mortgage to setting up an investment portfolio and planning for your retirement, ING Belgium is there to accompany you

10:19 08/05/2024
In association with ING Belgium

Buying a home

Although buying property in Belgium is a long-term investment, many expats like to own their own home if they plan on staying a few years.

It’s important to note that a 12.5% registration tax is imposed on property purchases, on top of legal fees, while a capital gains tax of 16.5% applies to properties sold within five years. 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.

As well as mortgage advice, your bank can advise on the formalities involved when buying/building or renovating a house or apartment. ING Belgium provides a detailed five-step guide with lots of handy tips as well as a mortgage simulation tool. Don’t forget that you can also borrow money to fund renovation projects, including energy-saving measures that will lower your utility bills.

Once you’ve found a home, you will need the services of a notary. It is typically the seller’s notary who drafts the sales agreement (compromis de vente/koopovereenkomst). If the buyer backs out there is a small fee, but the seller can withdraw without penalty.

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, it’s advisable to have a surveyor check the property. Again, your bank can provide a specialist who will also estimate the value of the property. It’s also possible to buy a plot of land and build your own home with the help of an architect who assists with the necessary permits.

Before moving into your new home, it’s necessary to update your insurance portfolio. Whether you are a tenant or an owner, you need tailored protection for any potential damage such as fire and flooding. Check out home insurance for property owners and a raft of other insurances for you and your family.


Investment advice

Saving is an essential part of planning your financial future. But what’s the best way to save and how do you get started? It’s always important to do your homework and understand the risks and what return on your savings is expected or guaranteed.

It’s also important to consider the tax implications of your investments, especially if they are outside the country where you are fiscally resident. Double taxations treaties do exist though between countries to avoid you paying tax twice

Independent financial advice is rare; it only applies to advice that you pay for without any obligation to buy a financial product. High street banks are not independent advisors but the product range they offer is large and can include third-party funds.

Whether you want to save for a major purchase, set up an emergency fund or prepare for retirement, ING’s savings checklist can help you manage your savings effectively. 


Retirement planning

Planning for future retirement is always a thorny issue and it can be tricker for expats who have worked in more than one country. It’s quite likely that you have worked and paid pension and social security contributions in another country, or maybe more than one.

If you decide to retire in Belgium, you need to provide your entire career record to the National Pensions Office, which arranges for each country’s pensions office to pay its part directly to you. Unless taking early retirement, Belgian residents are contacted by pension office one year before the beginning their retirement. 

If you’re able to save, it’s recommended to put some money aside to supplement your state pension for a more comfortable retirement. There are also tax reductions available for these types of savings. Check out ING’s pension advice, which explains the different kind of pension plans available. It also provides information on pension savings insurance and includes a pension calculator to help you decide on the best plan for your individual circumstances.

Photo: (main image) Belga ©Jonas Hamers ImageGlobe

Written by The Bulletin in association with ING Belgium