If you ever decide to buy a property in Belgium
, know that you will face a few legal issues along the way. There's your residency status, for instance. Are you allowed to purchase real estate in Belgium if you're not a resident of the country? What about when it's time to sign the purchase commitment contract? Will that mean anything in the long run? The process of buying a new place in Belgium, or in any other country for that matter, is rife with legal issues you'll need to deal with. And it's better that you know about them now!
Does Your Residency Status Matter?
If, for example, you want to buy a home in Brussels, should you have to move here
? The answer is no, you don’t! As of this writing, there are no Belgian laws that prohibit foreigners from purchasing property in Belgium. Your residency status doesn't matter when it comes to this endeavor. Whether you're a resident or not, you can still buy real estate in Belgium as long as you can afford it and you'll have use for it. With that said, there are parts of the purchasing process that may be more challenging if you're not a resident of the country. Particularly when it comes to paying property taxes, getting a mortgage, and the like.
What is Your Due Diligence in Belgium's Real Estate?
When you purchase real estate in Belgium, you have to do your due diligence. But what does that mean, exactly? LawyersBelgium
notes that 'due diligence
' is when you gather information about the legal and commercial status of the property. For instance, you need to make sure that the place you want to buy doesn't have its own legal issues. Have your solicitor visit the land registry to check whether the seller is, in fact, the homeowner listed in the title. You also need to know if the property still has a mortgage attached. Additionally, it's best if you conduct surveys to know the current state of the place.
What will Your Notary Do?
Speaking of lawyers, you need to hire a trustworthy notary. Especially if they'll also serve as your solicitor in this process. When it comes to all the legal issues that surround buying real estate in Belgium, your notary is your right-hand man. They have a lot of things to do, from notarizing all the important documents to serving as your legal representative throughout the transaction. And when it comes to costs, you'll likely need your notary to pay them for you. Unless you want to fall victim to a real estate scam
, it's best that you hire a trustworthy notary that you've met yourself.
What are The Pre-Purchase Costs in Belgium?
When you buy a property in Belgium, you'll also be legally required to pay certain costs. And they're on top of the property value that'll likely cost thousands, if not millions of bucks. These costs include the registration tax and VAT, notary fees, valuation costs, and the commission of your real estate agent
. Paying these taxes, fees, and charges is one of the most important parts of the process. In fact, it's safe to say that you can't start the purchase if you haven't done it yet. So prepare a huge budget to pay for all of these!
When Should You Sign The Purchase Commitment Contract?
Though it's not required, you'll want to have a purchase commitment contract/agreement drawn up. Why? Because it will essentially bind you and the seller to the transaction legally. Once you sign it, you'll be legally required to see the purchase through to the end. But then, when should you have this drawn up? When is the right time to sign it? Only after you and the seller have agreed upon a final price for the property in Belgium. When you already know how much the place will cost you in total, only then can you promise to purchase it.
What Should The Contracts Contain?
All the contracts in this process, from the purchase commitment agreement to the final sales contract, should contain a few things. The identity and information about the buyer and seller, a clear description of the property, the agreed final price & the 10% deposit paid, and the date and time of signature. For your benefit, you might want to include certain clauses that will allow you to bow out of the transaction when needed. Let's say your mortgage fell through and you now have no way to pay for the remaining balance of the property. If you included an exit clause for this specific situation, then you can legally bow out of the agreement.
When Should You Change The Name in The Deed?
You might be thinking that only when you've paid for the property in full can you sign the title as its new owner. This is not true! Remember that if you took out a mortgage loan to help pay for the property, it might take you years to pay it in full. And if you're already using the property by then, shouldn't you already be legally named its owner as well? You can already sign the title as the property's new owner a little after you've paid the 10% deposit and signed the sales contract.
You ought to already know that the process of purchasing real estate in Belgium comes with a few legal issues. And if you don't know about them before starting the process, there's a good chance you might get in trouble with the law!