Flemish housing bonus: 5 concrete answers to practical questions

Flemish housing bonus: 5 concrete answers to practical questions
Credit: Belga

The decision of the Flemish government to cancel the tax benefits of the Flemish housing bonus by the beginning of 2020 has been met with a lot of confusion. Here are five concrete answers to specific questions about the housing bonus.

1) By when does the notary act have to be signed to still enjoy the housing bonus?

Before 1 January 2020. Any deed of sale that has been signed by the notary after 1 January 2020 will be covered by the new system and cannot use the Flemish housing bonus tax advantage. However, registration fees will decrease from 7% to 6%, the Flemish government said.

2) Can I keep the housing bonus if I want to refinance my existing housing loan?

When refinancing a housing loan, you take out a more advantageous loan for the same house, replacing the previous one. This usually happens because the interest rates at the moment are much lower than they were when the loan was taken out.

Anyone who wants to refinance can continue to make use of the housing bonus, because only the date of the original loan counts, stated Febelfin, the federation of the financial sector. Additionally, there is no need for a transfer of ownership there, so you do not have to worry about the period that the notary needs.

3) What happens if I want to reuse my mortgage to take out a new loan?

When reusing your mortgage, you make use of the piece of capital that you have already repaid, for example, to expand or renovate a house. 

Reusing your mortgage to take out a new loan is seen as a new loan, meaning that the notary act has to be signed before the end of 2019. 

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4) The housing bonus is a Flemish measure, are there advantages to buying a house in Wallonia or Brussels?

In Wallonia, the housing bonus is a "chèque habitat", or a housing cheque that is calculated on income and number of children, not on loan repayments. The advantage is limited in time, you can only use it for 20 years.

In Brussels, the housing bonus has been abolished in 2017, in exchange for a discount on registration fees. Anyone who buys a home in Brussels does not pay any registration fees on the first instalment of €175,000. For houses costing more than €500,000, you pay the 12,5% registration fee.

5) Will the abolition of the housing bonus bring down house prices, meaning it would be better to wait to buy?

Researchers at the VUB previously concluded that the housing bonus had helped prices on the property market to rise. However, that does not necessarily mean that they will fall again when the bonus is abolished, said De Tijd. It seems more realistic that from next year onwards, house prices will simply rise a little slower, but that, too, is speculation, reports VRT NWS.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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