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Property market in Brussels grew in 2020 despite pandemic

Credit: Belga

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the property market in Brussels grew by 14-16% in 2020, according to figures from the Union of Surveyors (UGEB-ULEB).

The union uses a points system which gives a value to each piece of property based on its size as well as amenities, such as central heating, double glazing and so on.

According to that system, the value of apartments on open sale rose by 16% in 2020, bring the increase over the last two years to 44%, following years of stability. That puts the average price at €2,609 per square metre.

For private sales, the index went up 14% to an average €2,584 per square metre for apartments, but with an increase of only 7.5% for one-family homes. Homes with a garden were particularly attractive in the capital, given the restrictions on movement and on receiving guests.

The increase is also surprising since the lockdown in March put a stop temporarily to viewing of properties on sale, which resulted in properties remaining unsold as potential buyers were unable to visit.

On the other hand, 2020 saw an increase in online auctions, which came at just the right time for the restricted public.

“This confirms that the introduction of the online auction platform Biddit has been successful,” commented Eric De Keghel, author of the report.

The system is very successful, and values often rise in the last moments, sometimes even long after the theoretical closing time due to new auctions.”

Finally, houses sold at public auction saw prices fall by less: 7.5% on average. However, the Union points out, the average increase disguises a very wide difference between the sales of properties in the north-west of the capital (Schaerbeek, Neder-over-Heembeek) and those in the south-east (Auderghem, Watermael-Boitsfort).

The increase in prices, however, may not be directly attributable to the pandemic, De Keghel said.

“Some analysts believe that the decrease in supply due to the lockdown, while demand has remained strong, explains at least in part the increase. Nevertheless, we note that values had already started to rise before the pandemic,” he said.

And while the news is good for sellers, it is not so good for first-time buyers.

“Values below €2,000 euros a square metre are becoming extremely rare for property in reasonable condition, whereas just a few years ago there were still apartments selling at €1,000 euros a square metre.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times