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Belgium in Brief: Surprise, You’re Settling Down

Credit: Orlando Whitehead/ Canva

“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…

Have a read of this too, Alan Hope explains it better than I ever could.

What’s your experience been like? Let @johnstonjules know (or email me

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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. Belgium’s famed Hallerbos becomes a nature reserve

The famed Hallerbos bluebell wood in the Flemish Brabant province is being granted the status of a nature reserve, Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir announced on Sunday. Here’s what that means.

2. FAQ: The Belgian Covid Safe Ticket

Belgium will lift the federal general face mask obligation and expand the use of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST), announced Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during a press conference on Friday. So, what does that mean?

3. Heritage Days bring 40,000 cultural visits in one weekend

This weekend, the Brussels-Capital Region held its 33rd edition of Heritage Days, or Open Monuments Days, in which 142 cultural sites in the city held activities around a central theme of “Meeting Points.” Read More.

4. STIB has given out 534 fines for not wearing a mask this year

Brussels public transport company STIB has issued a total of 534 fines between January and August of this year for people not wearing a mask while using the public transport network. Read more.

5. Belgian far-right party launches own app to ‘break censorship’

Belgium’s far-right Vlaams Belang party launched its own mobile application, which was presented as a channel for “politically incorrect” information to be shared. Read more.

6. ‘Transforming Brussels’: Car Free Sunday a success

The weather was fine and many of the Belgian capital’s residents took to the streets to enjoy a variety of activities and workshops centred around alternative modes of transport. Read more.

7. Majority of companies want employees back in the office more often

Just over six in ten companies (60.9%) choose to have their staff return to the office at least three days a week since the recommendation to work from home disappeared in Flanders and Wallonia. Read more.

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