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Belgium in Brief: Would You Buy A House?

Can young people afford to buy houses in Belgium? Honestly, it seems to vary depending on what you consider a house, what you can put up with and who you listen to.

For instance:

According to the National Bank of Belgium, buying a house has not become more inaccessible for younger people in the country,

According to a recent survey of 2,000 people in Belgium, however, two-thirds of non-home-owners between the ages of 21 and 35 in Belgium said they felt buying a home is currently impossible.

Now, as with many things, additional factors are what make the difference here. The way I see it, what we’re looking at is this:

Can people get help from family members? Half of the current homeowners said they received help from their parents or other family members, 37% received some money and 16% borrowed from their parents.

Where are you looking? Buying property in major cities will always be difficult, leaving would-be homeowners choosing between buying in a new location or renting where they feel comfortable.

Can you put down any money on the loan? The number of first-time buyers seeking loans covering over 90% of the property’s value has decreased from 45% in 2019 to 30% in 2020. In particular, loans, where first-time buyers put 10 to 20% of the value on the table themselves (or with parental support), are clearly on the rise.

What do you want? A 1 bed flat? A shell with a garden? Maybe you want to go for a fixer-upper with a downstairs toilet, an upstairs kitchen and a bath in the bedroom?

This final question is the big one, because that’s going to impact the eventual cost on a massive scale.

Speaking from experience as someone who managed to buy a shell… baths that drain into showers and wiring that Dr Frankenstein would have considered risky are not exactly a problem you can live with for long.

So today, more than anything, I want to know your experience? Did you take the plunge? Will you never buy? Or do you just not know?

Let @johnstonjules know.

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Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. Rebooking vaccination appointment to go on holiday possible after all

People will be able to rebook their vaccination appointment in function of their holiday plans this summer after all, but the Flemish Care and Health Agency still asks to prioritise getting your jab. Read more.

2. Cheat Sheet: What changes on 1 June?

The start of any month in Belgium brings with it a host of new changes – and June is no different.

From reptiles and swimming to massive medical reimbursement, here’s a rundown of what’s changing – and has nothing to do with the coronavirus crisis. Read more.

3. Latest European travel map colours increasingly orange, Malta turns green

Malta is coloured green and a number of popular holiday destinations have turned orange on the latest update of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)’s map of travel destinations. Read more.

4. Ban on headscarves could be abolished following latest in STIB discrimination case

The Brussels public transport operator STIB-MIVB has decided not to appeal a discrimination conviction related to employees wearing headscarves, paving the way for an abolishment of the existing ban on head coverings that signal religious, political or philosophical beliefs. Read more.

5. Commission approves Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 and over

On Monday, the European Commission gave the official green light to administer Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine to children aged 12 and over. Read more.

6. Coronavirus variants no longer named after country of origin ‘to avoid stigma’

Coronavirus strains will no longer be named after the country or region where they were originally discovered to avoid the stigma around new variants being linked to certain places, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced. Read more.

7. Restoring nature reserve destroyed by fire ‘will cost at least €5 million and 10 years’

Restoring the damage caused to the Brecht nature reserve in the province of Antwerp by a massive fire that broke out after a shooting practice on the terrain just over one month ago will take at least 10 years of time and cost at least €5 million. Read more.

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