Apartments at the coast were selling 39% higher in the first half of the year than in the same period in pre-Covid year 2019, according to the latest figure from the Federation of Notaries.
The year 2020 saw widespread travel restrictions, as well as the closure for a long period of all bars and restaurants. At the Belgian coast, where people could go for at least a few days in the sun, there were local restrictions aimed at calming the huge influx of domestic tourists.
So it makes more sense to skip 2020 and compare numbers with pre-Covid 2019, and the result is a growth of 39% in the number of transactions recorded by the federation’s members, who deal with the majority of property transactions in Belgium.
“The increase in real estate activity on the coast is also stronger than all over Belgium,” said Bart Van Opstal, spokesperson for the federation.
“There, the increase compared to 2019 is only 16.7 percent. The sharp increase in coastal transactions is a corona effect. On the one hand, second residents are less interested in foreign real estate, on the other hand, many investors wish to secure their liquid assets by investing in real estate.”
The two most popular coastal municipalities are Knokke and Ostend, though others saw a higher increase in transactions: Heist-aan-Zee 72.1%, Nieuwpoort 68.5%, Koksijde 56.3% and Middelkerke 52.5%. Heist-aan-Zee comes from nowhere to enter the top ten, where the others all reside.
“In Heist-aan-Zee, the demand for more expensive apartments exceeds the supply,” Van Opstal said.
“Buyers have become more demanding in times of corona. They look for larger apartments with large terraces and attach extra importance to the location of the property. The municipalities that have a supply that meets these expectations see the number of real estate transactions increase the most.”
The average price of an apartment at the coast stands at €299.030, regardless of location. That is only 4.1% higher than in 2020, despite increased demand. In the last five years, taking account of inflation, the average cost has only gone up by 9.3%, somewhat less than the average increase in apartment costs in the rest of the country over the same period, which was 13.4%.
“The coast has a two-speed real estate market: the prices of new-build apartments are rising due to high demand and rising construction costs,” Van Opstal explained.
“The prices of older apartments do not follow this increase and rather show a downward trend. These two tendencies partially offset each other.”