Housing advice: Investing in real estate In Belgium

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In our housing advice pages real estate expert Yannick Callens offers expert advice on buying property.

Real estate is and has always been attractive to any investor who’s looking for a good investment – real estate is usually a safe investment and normally follows inflation, as real estate value adapts and rents are updated annually. Unlike the cash we leave in bank accounts, real estate follows the systematic course of supply and demand.

More than €6 billion ‘sleeps’ in bank accounts in Belgium, with an average return of only 0.1%. The saver loses money by letting his savings snooze. The only winner with the saver’s money is the bank. But who does the money really belong to?

Real estate is the safest resource for building long-term savings. For the purchase of your first asset, it is crucial to know how much you can borrow and to put as little of your savings into your first purchase.  There are two specific real estate markets, each with their advantages and disadvantages. New real estate offers a guarantee (ten-year) and the latest technologies on the market. On the other hand, VAT applies and can ‘inflate’ your purchase. Currently interest rates are at their lowest and the mortgage product is the number one product of the banker.

Existing real estate also offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Take your time to compare offers and quotes, as this will save you time and money. Be proactive – in the real-estate sector, and specifically during your first purchase, your emotions will be just like a yo-yo.

Always buy ‘a way out’, that is to say that at any time you must be able to resell your real estate purchase for at least the price for which you bought it. The quality of your real estate investment always goes hand in hand with the quality of your tenant’s choice. The same investment with a reliable tenant will give you a different feel for your investment. Take into account all the parameters that are important to you (location, condition of the property, its possible growth potential and its ‘exit door’). Again, try to distance yourself from your emotions when searching for your property.

Try to keep hold of your savings for your next purchase…  if you’re already thinking about wealth creation, keep your savings as long as you possibly can. Ask for help if needed as well as support. And, by the way, sometimes your closest circle (friends and families) are not the best advisors. Again, distance yourself from your emotions and look only at the numbers.

The administrative details of a property purchase have evolved so much in recent years that they have become very important. Check that all administrative points are in order – this is normally done via the notary but it is also advisable to check by going to the relevant administrations.

Negotiating with your banker should be a formality; if your purchase is good and in order, your banker becomes your partner and a win-win relationship will be created for the long term.

Take the time to choose a good tenant – remember that your tenant is your customer, and he expects quality service in return. Keep your tenant close to you to find out if everything is going well. Give him all the service he deserves, because he will be your client. Also, ensure that you consult your notary.

Once the purchase is completed, the documents signed and the keys in hand, it is at that moment that the real investment begins and surplus value can be generated. Keep your costs low and learn from other owners.

Remember, you own your property… you are a shareholder in your own destiny.

Always know where you want to go and visualize your goal. Surround yourself with competent people and good advice. Read more information and contact your Notary before if some information is not clear to you. Often the buyers have not yet the choice of Notary at the time of making their offer or even the signed and accepted offer.