"Are you still renting?"
This was a question I found myself being asked a lot for the first years I was in Belgium. Friends back home already had a foot on the property ladder, done with "paying someone for a house when you could be investing in bricks and mortar yourself".
The logic was pretty solid, but I was only in Belgium for a little bit. Brussels in particular always feels like a place where everyone is moving around so much that it's easy to lose track and realise you've been there six years.
Then you do start thinking about buying a house (I know I did), only to realise you have no idea what you're doing.
So why am I talking about this? Well, things are about to change.
New rules on mortgage lending are due to come into force in 2022 and aim to tame the price explosion on the housing market.
So far, so good, right?
The rule essentially consists of having mortgage lenders set mortgage rates according to a survey rather than the price asked for a property. In other words, if a seller is asking €400,000, and a survey reveals the proper price to be €350,000, that is the price on which the mortgage is offered.
Yet this essentially means is that if the buyer wants to buy the property anyway, they will have to come up with the missing €50,000 themselves.
Buying a house is complicated, with various pitfalls, costs and surprises that are nothing to do with the house itself.
So while it's best to keep an eye out for leaky roofs, busted drains, and a whole host of other things...
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