Thinking of Belgium?

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Key Highlights

  • Pressing supply constraints in Antwerp
  • New housing and new developments are rare

Thinking of Belgium?  Many Other Buyers Are Too

In Antwerp, Belgium’s most populous city and the capital of Antwerp province in the northern Flemish Region, this classic historical 19th century city center is facing a critical inventory shortage, according to Leslie de Ruiter, managing partner of R365 Christie’s International Real Estate.

Some 80% of Antwerp’s buyers are locals or Belgians, including ex-pat Belgians who are coming home for the safety and security of having their own home in the city.

What’s Holding Back Inventory?

New home construction is considered to be rare in Antwerp.  The permitting process is long, frustrating and laborious, according to de Ruiter.  De Ruiter said, “We need new developments.  We need new houses.  But not enough is happening.”

Therefore, most of Antwerp’s residential stock is made up of 19thC historic townhomes and small apartments.

Pandemic Impacts on Antwerp’s Housing Market?

Some Antwerp residents fled to suburbs or rural areas but nothing like the exoduses spurred in other countries such as the UK, France and the US.

deRuiter said, “Belgian people are more laid back.  The attitude was, ‘Let’s sit this out and see what happens.’”

As a result, Antwerp’s housing market remained resilient.

According to StatBel, the Belgium government’s statistic bureau, COVID “…had a limited impact on the number of property transactions…” during 2020 and were more than compensated by a strong Q4 2020.

Q1 2021 sales jumped by +14.7% in Antwerp and +11.2% in Belgium as a whole, according to notaris.be, an association of Belgian notaries.

Pandemic impacts most definitely shifted consumer preferences in housing.  Demand for gardens and outdoor terraces have skyrocketed.  Agent Matthias Vertommen with Sotheby’s International Reality Belgium said, “No matter how much money they have, everyone is looking to upgrade their primary residence to include some outdoor space.  Before the pandemic, it was parking spaces.  Now, it’s gardens or terraces.”

Prices “Modest” Compared to Other European Capitals

During 2020, the median home price increased to 280,000 euros or US $342,000, according to StatBell. By the end of 2020, the average price of a home in the Netherlands hit a record high of 365,000 euros, according to Cushman Wakefield.

More International Buyers Discovering Antwerp.

Stepahane Verbeeck,. President of the  Union Professionnelle due Secteur Immobilier, Belgian’s professional real estate association, said, “For the first time, we’re seeing investors and equity firms coming into the market to buy residential property…the primary buyer is the guy who owns five or six apartments, and wants more.”

Antwerp’s draw? A classic 19thC city center, comparatively low prices and government infrastructure investments.

 

Thanks to The New York Times.

 

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