Real Estate

House Hunting in Belgium: A Beaux-Arts Mansion for Under $2 Million

While the coronavirus pandemic spurred some Antwerp residents to flee to the suburbs or rural areas, “we definitely did not see a panic, and relatively few people made the Hamptons decision,” stated Mr. de Ruiter, referring to everlasting strikes by some prosperous New Yorkers to Long Island enclaves. “Belgian people are more laid back. The attitude was, ‘Let’s sit this out and see what happens.’” The metropolis’s property market remained resilient in consequence, he stated.

According to StatBel, the pandemic “had a limited impact on the number of property transactions” in 2020, with the lowered gross sales quantity “offset by a strong fourth quarter.” In Antwerp, transactions fell year over year from 3,502 houses bought in 2019 to 2,422 in 2020. As Covid restrictions recede, 2021 has been busy for brokers. First-quarter 2021 dwelling gross sales elevated by 14.7 p.c in Antwerp and 11.2 p.c nationally, in response to notaris.be, the affiliation of Belgian notaries.

Demand for gardens and outside terraces has been the pandemic’s most important impact on Antwerp’s property market, stated Mr. Vertommen, the itemizing agent. “No matter how much money they have, everyone is looking to upgrade their primary residence to include some outdoor space,” he stated. “Before the pandemic, it was parking spaces. Now, it’s gardens or terraces.”

Antwerp’s property market is “80 percent local and Belgian buyers,” Mr. de Ruiter stated. Foreign patrons principally come from the Netherlands, drawn by the shared language and decrease housing costs. North American patrons are “incidental,” Mr. de Ruiter stated.

Frederic van Bleek, the chief director of Engel & Volkers Antwerp, stated he has seen a rise in purchases by expatriate Belgians returning dwelling after the pandemic. “They’re looking for security, and they want to buy their main house in the city,” he stated.

Mr. Vertommen, the itemizing agent, stated that whereas most of his international patrons are Dutch, he has bought to Israeli, Lebanese and German shoppers, who are sometimes linked to Antwerp’s diamond business.

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