Notaries’ fees up for the chop, at least partly

Belgium’s prices observatory says that the fees notaries may charge need to be revisited.  Rules governing fees were established in the Fifties and haven’t changed for four decades and that has benefitted Belgian notaries over other professionals.  Belgian justice minister Van Quickenborne (Flemish liberal) has plans to update the fee structure.

Notaries’ income from the purchase and sale of real estate has risen over 65% during the past two decades.  The surge in house prices is one of the main reasons.

Notaries have also been able to digitise a lot of their operations, increase productivity and cut costs. Compared with other EU states at 2.2% notary fees linked to the purchase of a house are high.  In e.g. Spain it’s only 0.27%!

On average notaries make a 16% profit on their turnover.  This is higher than most comparable professions.

The prices observatory, a division of the economy ministry, calls for greater transparency in the fees that notaries charge on legal advice too.

Justice minister Van Quickenborne is keen to implement the government accord: “It’s time we reviewed notaries’ fees.  Administrative fees are definitely high. Administrative fees on the purchase of a house can easily set you back 2,000 euros.  I think this should be cut, at least ten percent if it’s up to me.  That’s what the government accord says.”

Minister Van Quickenborne is to take the mater up with the notaries’ federation and hopes to strike a deal before the year is out: “We need affordable fees, especially on the purchase of a first home.  Everybody should be able to afford a house.”

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