Christophe Ketels / COMPAGNIE GAGARINE

Hike in real estate prices across Flemish towns

Anybody looking to buy will have noticed it.  Real estate prices are shooting up, especially in the larger cities like provincial capitals.  For house buyers Leuven became the most expensive Flemish city in 2020 with the average house setting you back over 404,000 euros.  Flats are most expensive in Ghent where the average price now stands at over 288,000 euros.

Last year house prices rose 6% on average, while the price of a flat increased by 7% compared with the previous year. In 2020 the price of the average house shot up 9.1% in Leuven, Capital of Flemish Brabant, compared to the previous year’s prices.  In central Leuven the average stood at over 448,000 euros, while on the outskirts, in Wilsele e.g. the average house sold for over 336,000 euros.  Last year a flat in Leuven set you back over 283,000 euros on average.

As far as house prices are concerned Ghent came home second last year.  The average house price reached over 337,000 euros. There were big price increases in several parts of Ghent, e.g. in Mariakerke (plus 14.8%) and Zwijnaarde (up 28.2%).

Ghent is the most expensive Flemish city for flats.

Notary Maarten Duytschaever isn’t surprised by the price increases: “Ghent is a big city, but people don’t feel it’s too big. There are numerous opportunities for culture, the economy and sports.  There’s a university and a port, but still it’s quite nice to live here.  The suburbs too benefit from Ghent’s advantages and prices there are going up too.”

Hasselt, capital of Limburg, was the cheapest provincial capital to buy a house or flat with averages of over 292,000 euros and over 237,000 euros respectively. New builds in the city meant an average 10.1% increase on flat prices in only a year, the biggest increase in Flanders.

In Bruges, capital of West Flanders, the price of the average flat reached over 259,000 euros last year.  There was a modest increase in house prices, but given added demand and a relative shortage flat prices shot up in Bruges.

In Antwerp the average house cost over 320,000 euros last year – up 7.8% on the year.  Downtown Antwerp is the most expensive area, while it’s far more affordable in Merksem.

Notaries acknowledge that prices in the larger cities were already high and increased farther last year.  They attribute this to the profile of homebuyers.

“It’s above all over 50s who are buying” says Bart Van Opstal of notaris.be. “There are elderly people eager to move into the city, but also people buying a home as an investment, buy to rent e.g.  It’s putting extra pressure on prices.”

Young couples are struggling to get on the housing ladder in larger towns.  Bart Van Opstal: “It’s no easy feat for these people to find an affordable home, especially if they wish to do this without the financial support of parents.  Young singles are having an even more difficult time”.

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