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Buying a property

Who doesn’t dream of owning a property? A nice enclosed house, a spacious flat or a magnificent country house in the middle of nature… The road to ownership is however not without danger. Only if you start your journey in the correct way, pay attention to all necessary details and take into account a few basic rules, this process will lead to one of the most interesting explorations of your life. Vitrine.be would be happy to assist you professionally in completing this adventure successfully. You will find many practical and useful hints on this site.

The ideal home

Aspect

The first impression is the most important. You can be taken by surprise, or be charmed by a property at first sight. This "first impression" is important, but don't get blinded by it. A property needs to meet a whole lot more criteria if you need to live there for the coming years.

Location

Is the property easily reachable? Is there sufficient parking space? Are there shops, schools and public transport within reasonable distance? Are there dangerous crossings for the children? These are all things which have their effect on your quality of living, on the price but also on the resale value.

Functionalities

They all seem obvious, but be careful; all properties have hot and cold water, electricity, isolation these days, you will say? Reality is often different. Mostly older, rural properties are often not equipped with basic comfort.

Useful space

Take a critical look at the layout. A big house does not automatically mean you have lots of space, there may for instance be space which cannot be used in a practical way. A small enclosed house may sometimes offer more useful space, because of optimisation of available space.

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How to choose a building plot?

Location and purpose

Before you decide to buy, be absolutely sure that you are allowed to build on this land. The Land Registry Office can provide you with all information about the offered land, and can give you information about the purpose of the land: is it a building plot for a residential property, of is it perhaps agricultural land? The value of the plot is determined by the size and location (rural and residential or close to a motorway).

Orientation

One look at your watch and the sun (if it is shining) gives you a clue about the orientation. A front door oriented towards the south and a garden oriented north are not a good way to start.

Shape

A balanced rectangular shape offers the most possibilities. Bizar shapes are best to be avoided. It is also a fact that a rectangular shape with the longest side running along the street has more value than a property with the shortest side along the street.

Town planning

It goes by itself that all regulations from Town planning can have significant consequences: what is the maximum front width, what's the maximum building height, how far can you build of the street,... Ask the owner or the real estate agent for the necessary proof of what is allowed!

Composition and quality

In order to avoid surprised it is best to have a thorough investigation of the building plot (and not only of the upper layer). Is the land dry or is it located in marshland? If the soil is of bad quality it can have consequences when you start to build!

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Avoid surprises

The condition of the property

Pay attention to technical faults or weak points which can cause trouble later: moisture, drainage, mould, weak electricity lines, water and heating pipes, cracks in walls,... and we are only talking about visible faults. For less visible defects it is best to visit the property with a builder or architect.

Surrounding factors

Did you visit the property on a warm and dry summer day? Have a look at the land and get some information from the neighbours, maybe the land floods when it rains a lot. Check the traffic during rush hour, and not on a calm Sunday morning, but on a busy weekday. Also ask the opinion of friends or family: two pair of eyes see more than one!

Permits and certificates

Make sure you have all the necessary permits before you start. For example, the soil certificate. How do you know that there are no building violations? Are there easements? Working with a real estate agents solves all these problems, gives you security and saves you a lot of frustration!

Handy checklist existing property

Roof

  • is the rooftree straight?
  • moss often means moisture problems

Brickwork

  • are the walls perpendicular?
  • are there cracks or tears?
  • what is the condition of the pointing?
  • mould just above the skirting indicates moisture

Joinery

  • thick paint layers can hide a lot!
  • check with a nail if the wood is not rotten
  • overall condition of the windows and doors

Electrical installation

  • is the wiring safe and according to regulations?
  • is the installation approved?
  • are there sufficient sockets?
  • is there enough electrical power?
  • complete renovation can be expensive!

Ventilation

  • stains and mould=insufficient ventilation
  • is there enough ventilation in the kitchen and bathroom??

Heating

  • central? Which fuel? What sort of system?
  • how is the water heated?
  • no cracks in the pipes?
  • regurarly maintained?
  • who is the electrician?
  • capacity of the tank?
  • yearly heating costs?

Isolation

  • what sort of isolation materials have been used?
  • are they replaceable or can isolation be improved?

Plumbery

  • is the drainpipe directly linked to the sewer?
  • open one of the taps and check the pressure
  • no broken pipes due to frost?
  • does the toilet flush in a normal way?
  • are the pipes well isolated?
  • are the older appliances in good condition?

If you use the above list the risk of surprises will be limited. However, we repeat that getting things checked by a professional (agent, architect or builder) offers even more security!

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The private sale

Option to buy

The 'option to buy' is an agreement between seller and candidate-buyer where the candidate buyer has the possibility to buy the property at a certain price within a certain period of time. When the seller breaks this agreement a claim can be demanded.

The sales agreement or provisional contract

In contradiction to its name, this agreement is binding. The content of it is very important. It is important to mention: the ultimate date when the deed will be passed, sanctions when this date is exceeded, the price, details about the advance, suspending conditions, a detailed description.

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Public sale

Location and organisation

Public sales are organised by a notary. Most public sales take place in a centrally located pub or in a public hall.

Voluntarily or forced sale

A forced sale often takes place against the will of the owner, for example in case of bankruptcy or insolvency. The voluntary public sale is mostly chosen in order to sell a property quickly and in the hope to receive a better price. The price is set by means of an auction. However, even when a bid has been accepted, the notary can still decide that the price is too low and may therefore organise a second day of sitting.

Careful!

Don't get carried away by the atmosphere in the hall! You may end up paying too much. Decide upfront what your maximum bid will be. For both the seller and buyer both partners need to be present. Bear in mind that there are extra costs to be paid !

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The notary deed

Title deed

This is an authentic deed which offers you legal security. It is listed in the Mortgage Registry, after which it is made public. From that moment onwards you can call yourself the full owner of the property.

Costs

The costs for passing a deed exist of

  • Registration fees = 10% of the selling price (for cheaper properties, depending on the rateable value, there is an exception = 5%.)
  • notary fee
  • small extra costs: seals, looking up, transcripts

Klik here if you want to calculate the fees directly. Costs of a public sale are about 25%. For a private sale this comes down to 15% to 20% of the selling price.

Lower registration fees: some things have changed.

According to the Cadaster, all deeds passed later than 15 may 2001, are submitted to a new rule for approval and delivery of the cadastral register. This change is important because certain deeds which have not been completed according the new rules, can be postponed.

What is it exactly about?

The lower registration fee of 5% can only be granted in case there were no improvements or changes to the sold property which could cause the rateable value to increase at the time of the sale. The Cadaster will investigate if the demand for a lower tariff is justified. In order to benefit from this lower tariff, you need to submit an approved cadastral register.

If the Cadaster assesses that there were in fact improvements made to the property, the rateable value will be re-estimated and the difference will have to be paid by the seller.

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The role of real estate agent

We only consider estate agents officially listed on the tableau of the BIV (Professionel Institute for Real Estate Agent). This recognition offers a series of certainties in professionalism and capabilities. The recognised agent has to participate yearly in the necessary supplementary training, and is covered by the necessary insurances. He is also bound by the code of ethic.

Working with a recognised agent offers nothing but benefits. Most important of all, his services are free of charge for the buyer. It is the seller who pays the fees! The agent puts together a file with all necessary permits, approvals, ? and other documents needed to organise the sale.

The real estate agent can also give you his professional opinion on the overall condition of the property, and give you more information on the price.

The seller also has benefits from working with a real estate agent: knowledge of the prices, legislation and rules, advertising of the property in media, collection of all ncesaary documents ? a task which can be time consuming and very complex!

Need to know more about real estate agents? Read our extensive chapter on "the real estate".

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