6 April 2015 – El Mundo
Last year Belgian citizens purchased 21% more homes in our country (than during 2013), attracted by the low prices.
The Belgian group Stella predicted it in the early 90s, in one of the most popular songs in the country’s history: “on ira tous, tous tous a Torremolinos” (we will all, all all, go to Torremolinos). That omen is now a reality since Belgians are coming to Spain in increasingly large numbers and not just for one-off holidays, but also to become homeowners. During 2014, the citizens of the country acquired 3,507 homes on Spanish soil, almost 21% more than in 2013 and, although at the time they had a certain predilection for the Malaga town, the truth today is that their interest has spread across the whole country.
“Prices have risen so much in Belgium and have fallen so much in Spain that it has become very affordable (for us) to buy a home on the Mediterranean (Coast)”, says Bertrand Florent, resident of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Brussels, where it costs more than €300,000, on average, to buy a home.
This reasoning has led him to think about investing his money in a second home in Spain where, for less than €100,000, he could increase the statistics that show how (interest in) our domestic market has become an authentic boom for Belgian citizens.
The increase in house prices in Belgium, together with the decline in the Spanish market during the crisis, has converted the Belgians into the main non-resident foreign purchasers of homes in Spain, on a proportional basis.
They are only slightly exceeded (in absolute terms) by the citizens of the United Kingdom and France, two countries where the number of inhabitants is several times higher than the Belgian population of just over ten million.
Nevertheless, “several factors should be taken into account”, says Antoine Bourgeois, real estate advisor in Brussels. “Belgians used to spend time on the Belgian coast or in the South of France. However, real estate prices have risen sharply there, and so Belgians have decided to focus on other destinations”. This exodus has also been helped by the evolution in the means of transport and the fact that now there are more – and cheaper – flights than ever linking Belgium with various locations in Spain.
The rise in prices has been observed across the whole country, where the market has grown like wildfire in recent years, to the extent that average house prices doubled in Belgium between 2002 and 2012.
This development has led the OECD – Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development – to consider Belgium as one of the countries in which house prices are most over-valued in the world, with rates that, in 2013, significantly exceeded the averages in other western countries, both in terms of the differences between prices and wages, as well as between sales and rentals. This data led the credit ratings agency Standard & Poor to warn about the creation of a real estate bubble in the country although, since last year, the market has shown signs of stabilisation.
Original story: El Mundo (by Alberto F. De Quer)
Translation: Carmel Drake