Buying a house in Belgium (Brussels area)

Hi! We are looking at buying. We are currently in the US. I was wondering if anyone had any advice. We are hoping to do most of the work from overseas. Would a real estate work just with their company (Century 21 agent only would show us Century 21 houses)? Family in the area told us they generally didn't use an agent for buying. Any advice, tips, etc. would be great appreciated.


The Belgian property market is strongly influenced by the economy, and owning a house isn't seen as a great investment. However, Belgium has no restrictions on the foreign ownership of real estate.
Belgium has become very popular with foreign investors, as the EU's headquarters are based in Brussels. Property prices are considered to be relatively cheap compared to other European countries. However, the property market in Belgium is strongly influenced by the economy and prices tend to fluctuate constantly.
If you are planning on staying in Belgium for less than five years, it is recommended to rent instead of buying a home. Owning a property isn't seen as a good investment, and generally people don't think it's important to own their home. Transfer costs are high and tax benefits tend to vary greatly, which also discourages residents to invest in properties.
Brussels is one of the main property markets in Belgium, therefore, prices are higher than in the rest of Belgium. There is a great number of town houses, villas and estates in the city. Other main property markets near Brussels are the Flemish Brabant and the Walloon Brabant.
Purchasing a home in Belgium
The procedure for buying a property in Belgium can be different from your home country. Read further to find out the steps to follow in order to purchase your home in Belgium.
If you are planning on buying a home in Belgium you can visit real estate agencies for help. You can also do your own search by looking for signs reading à vendre/te koop in windows.
If you decide to engage a real estate agent in the process, take into account they are usually regionally bond to properties. Also, they may not want to work with someone who doesn't speak the region's language (or isn't enrolled in language classes). Official real estate agents are members of the Professional Institute of Real Estate Agents (Institut des Professions Immobilières/Beroepsinstituut van Vastgoedmakelaars).
Commitment to buy
Some sellers may ask you to sign an Offre d'achat/Koonepintenties or Aankoopaanboond, which is a legal way of retaining the property. This commitment to buy only affects the buyer – if you back out of a purchase after signing the commitment, you will loose any fees involved.
The commitment to buy is optional, and you can agree with the seller to buy the property without signing the commitment.
In total, you must pay around 20% of the price of the property in transfer fees. Capital Gains Tax doesn't apply if the property is sold after five years.
Purchase agreement
The purchase agreement (compromis de vente/verkoopcompromis) is the document that closes the sale, but it isn't the last document you will sign.
A purchase agreement can take one or to months to complete, depending on your financial agreements to pay for the property (e.g. if you need a mortgage). This agreement can include clauses that note, for example, that the purchase depends on you receiving a mortgage.
It is also required that you pay a registration fee (droit d'enregistrement/registratierecht). The price of the registration fee is a percentage of the sale price, and varies form one region to another. There are tax incentives in certain regions that reduce the price of the registration fee.
The deposit on the purchase can be from 5% to 10% of the price of the property. This deposit is blocked until both you and the seller sign an officially notarised deed of sale (acte notarié/notariële akte). The deed of sale must be signed within four months of the purchase agreement.
Additional documentation
You may be required additional official documentation or registration to purchase a property in certain regions of Belgium. The additional documentation can be a soil sample, a third party verification of the size of the property, or any other documentation that proves that the price of the property isn't estimated.

The mortgage system (crédit hypothécaire/hypothecair krediet) in Belgium is efficient and reliable. Finding financing is easy.

In order to get a mortgage in Belgium you must be under 65 years old and submit proof of income (copies of your last six months' payslips, personal bank statements, etc.). You must also prove that all your existing liabilities (rent, loan repayments, etc.), plus your mortgage payments, won't exceed 35% of your net monthly income. The lending will be based on your ability to pay, and won't take into account any rental income from the property.
You may also be required to obtain a survey of the value of the property. Surveys are done by an expert valuer approved by the mortgage company. The value assessment is often based on the replacement or forced sale value, not the market value. You will have to pay the expert valuer´s fees. Note that this survey doesn't always give you signs about potential problems with the building.
Mortgages have typically a 20 year duration. The minimum loan is of €30,000, with a maximum loan-to-value ratio of 85%. Since 2008, the market has been dominated by loans with interest rates fixed for the duration of the loan, or at least for ten years.

Renting and leasing in Belgium
In Belgium, houses and apartments are widely available to rent throughout the year.
If you are planning on renting in Belgium, look for signs reading à louer/te huur on the windows, visit a local real estate agent, or check the classified section of local newspapers and specialised websites.
Most of properties for rent are unfurnished. The kitchen may be described as equipée/uitgerust, which means that it includes a stove and a refrigerator (sometimes a dishwasher and/or microwave oven as well).
In order to rent a property you will be asked to present a proof of income. The landlord may also require a standing order for monthly rent payments.

Rental Contract (droit de bail or bail à loyer/huurcontract)
A standard lease in Belgium has a duration of nine years, and is broken down into three three-year periods (3-6-9 lease). There are also short term leases of less than three years, and long term leases of more than nine years.
The base rent of 3-6-9 leases can only be increased at the beginning of the three-year period. In order to increase the base rent, a written notice must be given six to nine months in advance.
To terminate a lease it is mandatory a three months notice in writing. Leases are automatically renewed at the end of the nine years, unless a six months' notice of intention not to renew (in writing), is given by the landlord or the tenant.
Leases must be registered with the local office of Receiver of Registrations, Federal Public Service of Finances (Enregistrement, Service Public Fédéral Finances/Registratie, Federale Overheidsdienst Financien), within two months of being signed. The lease must be registered by the owner of the property, and it is free of charge.
The contract registered should include:
•    Address of the property being rented
•    Parking spaces, garages or storage facilities included in the lease
•    Monthly rent amount
•    Date of payment
•    Details of any rent increases
•    Conditions of the deposit
•    Details of the guarantor (if the landlord requests for a guarantor)
Security deposits (garantie locative/huurwaarborg) aren't mandatory unless stated in the lease contract. Deposits may not exceed the equivalent of two months' rent. They are placed in an interest-bearing bank under the tenant's name. This account is blocked, and the bank requires authorisation from the landlord and the tenant before the money can be released.
The deposit can also be a bank guarantee of not more than the equivalent of three month's rent. You can arrange it with your bank for an annual fee. The bank will provide a guarantee letter for the landlord, which must be returned to the bank at the end of the lease contract.
The deposit is usually refunded after the last common charges (maintenance and repair of communal areas and shared utilities) are determined and settled. As this is done at the end of the year, you may have to wait some time for the deposit to be refunded.
Inventory and Condition Report
When you move into a new property, you must complete and sign an Inventory and Condition Report (état des lieux/staat van de huis). This report is carried out by a surveyor (géomètre/landmeter), and it is paid by the landlord.
The report must include:
•    State of the fixtures and fittings (if applicable)
•    The cleanliness and condition of the decoration
•    Any items missing or in need of repair.
By law, tenants are required to have a comprehensive household insurance certificate. You must present proof of insurance to your landlord at the signing of the lease, and each time the lease is renewed.
The comprehensive household insurance covers:
•    A percentage of the capital and valuables
•    Legal costs incurred when personally liable or when claiming against a third party
•    Civil liability
•    Fire, explosions and related risks
•    Natural disasters
•    Theft and vandalism to set amounts
•    Broken windows

Hi there,

I would not use a real estate agent to find a house in Brussels. Not really because they would only be limited to the real estate in their portfolio but rather because they are only interested in taking care of sellers. Another factor is that real estate companies overcharge expats, you can especially see that in the rental sector. Indeed, over here they would not get any commission from a buyer. Only the seller pays a commission. You can have a look at, this is the most popular web site for house hunting. That way you can also have a idea of the budget you need, I believe it will be lower than what you expect as Brussels is still affordable. As opposed to the US the relationship between sellers and buyers is not institutionalised or so legally formal. In many cases you get in touch with the seller directly through the web site and meet to visit the property, if there is a common interest each party gets a notary for the legal aspects.

Here another website:

you should be very careful to which neighbourhood you buy your house in. because a matter of 100m can change the price of about 200 thousand euros. (in between etterbeek and scharbeek border) so make sure you do your research on the location as Brussels is a very small city it can be quite complicated

Jon_Mes I do not agree, it takes more than 100m. You would have to go deeper in Schaerbeek to have a significant difference and still 200k when the average 2-room appartment in Brussels is worth 236k...

It is also not that complicated, you have good areas and less good areas with no great differences between good areas. All that is easily identifiable.

probably a foolish question but allow me to get your inputs.
say i have some money that can take care half of the house price & need half to be loaned from a bank. but i just moved into Belgium & started working for 1 or 2 months. Would it be difficult to get a bank loan in such case?

With half the money of the house, it's doable as you diminish drastically the risk for the banks.

Now, you should probably wait 4-5-6 months before going to multiple banks with your payslips in order to prove that you've a """stable""" job/earnings.

Hi Alex, thanks for your inputs.
Would you know of any banks that accepts & grants home loan even for type A card holders? I approached mortgage brokers just to have a feel how the procedure is, but I was told that it is impossible to get home loan as I am holding type A card.

If you have an unlimited duration job contract, you show stable income (say >6 months of salary credit) there are good chances to get a mortgage. As you are expecting 50-60% of the property price, like Alex said, it is a low-risk case for banks.

Thanks Aneesh. So it would be better if I provide to the bank my full-time unlimited employment contract then.

It's not an obligation.  But you have to be logical, a bank does not lend money without a serious guarantee of return on investment.  They will also ask you to deposit your wages in a Belgian bank account.  You will also have to accept that they have access to your account for entry in the event of non-payment of the monthly payments.

Hallo... revisiting this forum as my family & I are looking to buy a house soon here. 1 of the properties we viewed that we like, which we signed agreement to purchase (not the purchase contract) have some violations against the urban devt plan - these were not mentioned by the real estate agent; in particular, car port, veranda, & garden house are not in the original urban planning. How is this normally handled? Shall we re-negotiate or just back out (I suppose legally we are not bound yet since we have not signed a compromie). Any advise/inputs/personal experience will be much appreciated.


You must contact the cadastral services of the city where the house is located to ask if the house corresponds to the official declaration.  Indeed, if you buy a property where fitting-out work has been carried out without authorization, you may be held liable by the Belgian administration.

Thank you for the feedback. Would you know how do non-conformities are normally resolved? Should the seller tear down any structures not in the urban plan or such structures can be "legalized" either by seller or buyer by updating the urban plan with the municipality?

Sometimes, financial penalties are applied for regularization of non-conformities.  But they still have to comply with neighborhood development standards.  If not, destruction and original restoration will be required.  In addition, if you contact the administrative services after signing the authentic deed of purchase, it is you who will assume all the consequences ...

thank you @phiphimar.
Do the relevant govt authorities perform inspection of the property after the sale is concluded?
Like, does the buyer have to regularized any non conformity within a certain period. I understand for electricity, any non conformity has to be resolved by the buyer within 18 months upon turn over. Does the same apply for urban plan?

Inspections are always carried out randomly with a certain visit rate depending on the sale price of the house and its location.

It should not be assumed that it is the buyer who has to do everything. It depends on the degree of non-compliance. There have been cases where the state has had the house destroyed.