In idyllic Ardennes towns, eight in ten property buyers are Flemish

In idyllic Ardennes towns, eight in ten property buyers are Flemish
Beautiful house in old stones in Durbuy, Ardennes. Credit: Belga / Bruno Fahy

In a picturesque Walloon municipality, the allure of Wallonia's real estate market has caught the attention of Flemish buyers, with eight out of ten property purchasers hailing from Flanders.

Mont de l'Enclus, located in Hainaut, witnessed an astonishing statistic, where nearly eight out of ten property transactions in the first six months of 2023 were completed by Flemish buyers. This trend is not unique to Mont de l'Enclus, as several municipalities nestled deep within the Ardennes region are experiencing a similar influx of second-home buyers from Flanders, as revealed by data from the Federation of Notaries.

An analysis of real estate purchase trends between 2017 and 2023, placed the top five Walloon municipalities attracting Flemish buyers as Rendeux (Province of Luxembourg); Mont-de-l'Enclus (Province of Hainaut); Vresse-sur-Semois (Province of Namur)] Erezée (Province of Luxembourg) and La Roche-en-Ardenne (Province of Luxembourg).

Examining notarial data, it is evident that at least five municipalities have seen over 40 percent of their real estate purchases going to Flemish second-home buyers in recent years. The Ardennes municipalities of Rendeux, Erezée, and La Roche-en-Ardenne, situated along the Ourthe River, have consistently attracted Flemish buyers. Remarkably, Rendeux maintains affordability, with a median price of €147,000.

La Roche. Credit: Belga / Bruno Fahy

Additionally, the idyllic Vresse-sur-Semois, located near the French border, has successfully lured many Flemish buyers, thanks to its scenic river, the Semois. Mont-de-l'Enclus, just across the language border, also ranks as the fifth Walloon municipality with substantial Flemish interest. Notably, Durbuy, where entrepreneur Marc Coucke is building a tourist empire, secures the eighth spot in this ranking.

Bart Van Opstal from the Federation of Notaries commented on the real estate market trends in an interview with VRT News stating, "Since this year, the real estate market has been cooling down in Flanders, Brussels, and Wallonia. But that is not yet the case in the Ardennes. We see an increase in the number of transactions this year by almost 3%." This trend, he attributes, in part, to the fact that many purchases in the Ardennes are made without loans, which keeps the market vibrant.

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The remarkable interest of Flemish buyers has turned Mont-de-l'Enclus into a prime example of this trend. In the first half of 2023, a staggering 79.9% of the municipality's real estate was acquired by Flemish individuals seeking second homes.

Mayor Jean-Pierre Bourdeaud'Huy takes a light-hearted view of the situation, stating in a VRT interview, "When people come to our town hall who really don't know French, we try to help them in Dutch." He notes that Dutch and French speakers coexist harmoniously in the municipality and even mentions having officiated bilingual marriages.

Mayor Bourdeaud'Huy points to the factors that attract Flemish buyers to Mont-de-l'Enclus, including peace, open spaces, and cycling opportunities. He acknowledges that the influx of Flemish buyers has driven up real estate prices, making Mont-de-l'Enclus the most expensive municipality in Hainaut but believes the idyllic nature of the town makes it worth the cost.

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