Market trends. Property taxes. Inflation rates. Registration fees. These are just some aspects affecting property portfolios. As a foreign investor, buying real estate in Belgium may be a viable way to diversify your portfolio.

But is it a profitable one, especially in the post-pandemic landscape?

Business confidence in Europe's real estate sector is at its highest since 2014. Property remains a favored asset class, forecast returns are higher than last year, and investor demand remains high.

Is the same true for Belgium's real estate market, though?

And if so, how do you go about buying Belgian property? What about taxes and registration fees? Are there exemptions?

We answer all these questions and more below.

Europe's Real Estate Sector at a Glance

Macroeconomic trends and challenges ultimately affect commercial property and housing prices in Belgium. That's why it's vital to understand the European Union economy and property market.

Europe's real estate sector saw remarkable resiliency in the last two years, in large part due to governmental and central bank support measures. As such, sentiment and profitability expectations have recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

Expected Growth Despite Long-Term Uncertainty

According to the Urban Land Institute's and PWC's Emerging Trends in Real Estate® Europe 2022 survey, industry leaders predict relatively strong growth for 2022.

This comes despite long-term uncertainty amid the potential effects of rising inflation, supply chain disruptions, and structural transformation. In fact, cybersecurity ranked as the top long-term concern among respondents-before inflation, interest rate movements, and business interruption, respectively.

Short-Term Industry Concerns

Still, the pandemic's impact on labor mobility and supply chain bottlenecks has resulted in rising construction costs-the primary short-term concern among the surveyed industry professionals.

The availability of suitable assets and land for acquisition and development ranked second. Sustainability and decarbonization requirements ranked third amid rising energy costs and the acceleration of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

Socio-Political Issues

It's no surprise that environmental sustainability will become a price-determining factor. Socio-political issues concerning the environment, housing affordability, and social equity/inequality were the top three concerns in the category among respondents.

Property Trends: Residential is In-Office is Out

Some subsectors are expected to perform better than others, with residential and logistics properties finding favor among investors.

While operational real estate income profiles and alternatives like data centers, life sciences, and new energy infrastructures are appealing, they won't attract the most capital this year.

These sectors don't currently offer the liquidity most investors require. Rather, they represent a more long-term fundamental shift towards operational real estate.

Unsurprisingly, asset allocations in the retail and office sectors no longer dominate. Divided predictions on whether these sectors will offer flexible prime assets vs. an overall drop in demand remain to be seen.

According to ULI's and PWC's survey, 53% of respondents agree that the year ahead will bring more forced sales of assets in parts of the leisure, retail, and hospitality sectors.

Alternative sectors, value-added real estate, development, and new investment are the top sectors predicted to have access to equity in 2022.

It's All About Location

According to the above ULI and PWC report, Brussels is one of the top ten European cities for development and investment prospects in 2022. It's often perceived as having a young and innovative profile, with robust stock and increased yields despite the pandemic.

Belgium's Property Market: 2022 Trends and Numbers

Belgium's real estate market saw 15% more buildings and 27% more dwellings built since 1995.

According to, spokesperson, Notary Bart van Opstal, property sales rose by 20.4% in the first nine months of 2021-leading to increased housing prices in Belgium.

However, the last quarter saw this trend slow down, resulting in 14.3% overall growth for the year. Opstal says the slowdown cautiously indicates price hikes ending in the "cheapest segment" (typically houses without terraces or gardens).

According to the Belgian statistical office STATBEL, housing prices in Belgium saw the following trends in the third quarter of 2021:

  • The observed annual inflation rate was 8.2% (a 0.8% increase from the second quarter).
  • The housing price index rose by 3%.
  • The median price for a semi-detached or attached house amounted to 245,000 Euros. A detached house cost 350,000 Euros.

Real Estate in Belgium: Regional Trends

According to KBC Economics, homes have almost always been the cheapest in Wallonia and the most expensive in Brussels (since 1973). In 2020, the median price of houses sold in Wallonia was 30.3% lower than in Flanders. In Brussels, it was 8.5% higher.

Here's a quick overview of the housing market in Belgium's primary regions based on STATBEL's and KBC Economics' latest available data (2021):


Walloon remains the cheapest region, where it costs 170,000 Euros for a semi-detached or attached house. The median price of a detached house amounts to 280,000 Euros.

House and apartment prices dropped slightly in the first quarter of 2021 (by 0.2% and 0.8%, respectively) compared with the previous year. Hainaut is the cheapest province, and Walloon Brabant is the most expensive.


The Flemish Region is the second cheapest. Semi-detached or attached houses cost an average of 274,000 Euros while a detached house cost 380,000 Euros.

2021's first quarter saw house and apartment prices rise by 2.5% and 3.1%, respectively, compared to 2020. Overall, Limburg is the cheapest province, and Flemish Brabant is the most expensive.


This region is the most expensive for all dwelling types, with Ixelles being the most expensive municipality. However, the region experienced a 3.0% decrease in house prices and a 1.9% increase in apartment prices.

A semi-detached or attached house cost 481,000 Euros. Meanwhile, the median price of a detached house amounts to 1.1 million Euros.

Now that you're up-to-date with Belgium's property market, let's take a closer look at buying Belgian real estate.

Buying Real Estate in Belgium as a Foreigner

International investors (whether residents or non-residents) can buy property in Belgium or finance property purchases through a mortgage. However, the tax implications are different for non-residents vs. residents.

How it Works

Generally speaking, here's how buying property in Belgium works:

  1. Once you've found a property, a formal "offer to purchase" must be sent to the seller. You can usually negotiate, offering 5%-15% below the asking price.
  2. If the seller accepts, the parties conclude a "commitment to buy" agreement, legally binding the buyer to the sale.
  3. A notary must then be hired to draw up the notarized deed of the property. The notary may provide legal representation if required, although you can also hire a solicitor.
  4. A valuation survey is typically recommended but usually compulsory for mortgage approvals. It's a crucial process that flags any defects while ensuring the building has been properly valued.
  5. Most purchase agreements are in French or Dutch, so hiring a multilingual real estate professional or translator is often necessary.
  6. Once signed, the purchase agreement legally ties the buyer and seller into the sale, and no third parties may be involved.
  7. The buyer then typically puts a 10% deposit into escrow, which is forfeited if the buyer pulls out.
  8. You'll receive the keys to the property after both parties sign the notarized deed.
  9. The property's notarized deeds must be registered with your local registry office within four months of conclusion (along with registration tax payment). On average, it takes about 62 days to complete the transaction.

Buying property in Belgium as a foreign investor has its challenges. That's why it's best to seek the professional services of an international wealth management team.

The Costs

The costs of buying a property in Belgium are usually split between the buyer and seller. The buyer commonly pays the majority of costs-around 13%-16% of the purchase price for old properties and 22% for new properties. Meanwhile, the seller only pays around 3%-5%.

  • Registration Tax on properties older than two years is payable by the buyer and differs from region to region. It's 12.5% in Brussels and Wallonia and 12% in Flanders. This can be reduced to 5%-6% (region dependent) for downmarket properties with a cadastral income of 740 Euros or less.
  • Value Added Tax of 21% of the purchase price is levied on properties less than two years old (instead of registration tax).
  • Notarial Fees usually cost between 0.2%-4% of the purchase price but average around 1.6%. You can get an estimate of notary fees from the Royal Belgian Notariat Federation website. The fees typically cover notary services such as meetings with the parties, keeping minutes, drafting the notarial act, registration of the act, etc.
  • Valuation Fees cost around 200 Euros plus VAT.
  • Insurance Fees may apply if you're required to take out building insurance.


Financial institutions like banks and insurance companies offer both fixed and variable rate mortgages over a period of at least ten years. You may need to fulfill certain requirements for mortgage approval (like insurance or property valuation). The associated costs generally include administration and interest fees but ultimately depend on various factors.

Other Taxes and Exemptions

Tax breaks are available to property owners with a mortgage. The exact amount is determined by several factors, including the interest amount due, when your initial loan was approved, and even the number of children you have.

Tax Exemptions By Region

Here's a breakdown of the tax exemptions applicable when buying a house or apartment in Belgium's three main regions:

  • Brussels: An exemption (or abatement) applies to the first 175,000 Euros.
  • Flanders: An exemption applies to the first 80,000 Euros on property purchases below a certain amount.
  • Wallonia: An exemption applies to the first 20,000 Euros on property purchases below a certain amount.

Annual Tax

An annual tax on the estimated rental value of your Belgian property is payable- even if it's owner-occupied. The amount usually equates to 1-2 months' rent.

Capital Gains Tax

Private residences are 100% exempt from capital gains taxes (CGT) in Belgium-as long as the property has been occupied for a minimum of 12 months.

However, CGT still applies to other real estates within the scope of the "normal management" of your private assets. The applicable rate is determined by the holding period of the asset and whether it's a building or land.

A 33% flat rate plus local taxes applies to unbuilt land sold within five years of acquisition. The rate is reduced to 16.5% if the property is sold within eight years but after five years. After that, it becomes tax-free.

A 16.5% CGT tax rate plus local taxes apply to buildings sold within eight years of acquisition.

You can learn more about capital gains taxes in Belgium here.

Withholding Tax

Real estate in Belgium that's outside the scope of the normal management of your private assets is subject to a withholding tax of 30.28% of the purchase price. This constitutes the final tax for non-residents. As such, it can't be declared in a non-resident tax return.

Get Your Piece of the Real Estate Pie in Belgium

The real estate sector in Belgium remains attractive despite long-term uncertainty in the larger European property market.

There are many factors to consider, from trends and projections to costs, fees, taxes, and exemptions.

Navigating the various market, transaction, and administrative nuances can be challenging. Consider acquiring the services of an international wealth management team to help ensure the best deal and long-term profitability. You can learn more here.


The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.