House Hunting in Belgium: A Beaux-Arts Mansion for Under $2 Million

A Four-Bedroom Townhouse in Central Antwerp

$1.9 MILLION (1.56 MILLION EUROS)

Designed by the Belgian architects Alfred Portielje and Jan De Braey in 1926, this four-bedroom Beaux-Arts mansion in Central Antwerp, Belgium, was initially a part of Résidence Sans Souci, a luxurious residence complicated subsequent door.

Sans Souci’s homeowners bought off the mansion in 2007 to its present homeowners, a Dutch couple. The spouse, a now-retired inside designer, took a whimsical strategy to redecorating the four-story, four,760-square-foot residence. “She changed the walls every five years so she wouldn’t get bored,” stated Matthias Vertommen of Sotheby’s International Realty Belgium, the itemizing agent. “Because of her background, the home has also been immaculately maintained.”

A grand marble-accented lobby makes up the house’s total first stage. “Without a ground floor, the home wouldn’t be easy for a family with small kids, but the owners fell in love with the entrance hall,” Mr. Vertommen stated. “It’s quite big, with original mosaic tile floors, high ceilings and a huge wooden staircase.” Most not too long ago, the homeowners painted the lobby partitions black and white, coating the staircase in shiny black to match.

Designed by the Belgian architects Alfred Portielje and Jan De Braey in 1926, the four-story home was initially a part of Résidence Sans Souci, a luxurious residence complicated subsequent door. Sans Souci’s homeowners bought off the mansion in 2007 to its present homeowners. Credit…Antwerp Sotheby’s International Realty

The staircase ascends to dwelling areas on the second ground. A lengthy, loft-like lounge boasts authentic herringbone parquet flooring illuminated by floor-to-ceiling home windows. In the room’s present colour scheme, vertical zebra stripes distinction with plush divans in scorching pink and tangerine. A ornamental hearth, painted black, serves as an étagère. (The residence’s furnishings aren’t included in the sale.)

The lounge opens to a eating room, the place a peek-a-boo window overlooks the house’s second staircase. The eating room connects to a glossy, slender kitchen, not too long ago up to date and outfitted in black, with a granite-topped sink and diamond-patterned tiles on the flooring. One of the house’s two terraces is accessible via a walkout from the kitchen. At about 1,300 sq. toes, the terrace “faces the back of the house, overlooks trees, and feels completely private,” Mr. Vertommen stated. The second ground additionally includes a library and TV room brightened by a wall of home windows.

One ground up, the primary bed room suite has a dressing room with customized closets, in shiny black, taking over a whole wall. The windowed rest room, in brick-like white tile, features a standalone bathe and tub.

A second bed room has an en suite bathtub with a walkout to the house’s second terrace, which measures about 805 sq. toes. On the house’s high ground, the homeowners transformed a bed room to an workplace; a completed attic might turn into a fourth bed room, Mr. Vertommen stated.

The home, which features a deeded parking spot in a personal lot behind the constructing, is steps from Harmonie Park, a four-acre inexperienced area distinguished by its lute-shaped monument to the 19th-century Belgian composer Peter Benoit. “It’s an ideal location,” Mr. Vertommen stated. “You’re near public transport and schools, with bakeries, shops and supermarkets nearby. But it’s a five-minute drive to Antwerp’s ring road, with easy access out of the city.” A tram line runs in entrance of the home alongside Belgiëlei avenue.

The leafy central neighborhood is “a classic historical city center from the 19th century, with a mix of townhouses and apartments,” stated Leslie de Ruiter, managing associate of R365 Christie’s International Real Estate. Antwerp, the capital of Antwerp province in the northern Flemish Region, is Belgium’s most populous metropolis.

A grand marble-accented lobby makes up the house’s total first stage.Credit…Antwerp Sotheby’s International RealtyThe lobby has authentic mosaic tile flooring, excessive ceilings and a winding wooden staircase.Credit…Antwerp Sotheby’s International Realty

Market Overview

Lack of provide has turn into essentially the most urgent problem in Antwerp’s housing market. “We’re facing a critical shortage of inventory,” Mr. de Ruiter stated. “We need new developments. We need new houses. But not enough is happening.”

Construction of homes is uncommon in central Antwerp, the place the residential inventory consists principally of historic townhomes and small residences. A “long, frustrating” allow course of additionally discourages builders, Mr. de Ruiter stated.

Some large-scale new residence initiatives, just like the mixed-use Antwerp Nieuw Zuid complicated on the Scheldt river, will carry some reduction in the type of 1000’s of residence models over the approaching decade. However, stated Jeff Cavens, director of Triple Living, Nieuw Zuid’s developer, “Price increases and a small supply have made it very difficult to buy, especially for young people. This issue is very of the moment.”

In 2020, the median worth for a house in Antwerp rose to 280,000 euros ($342,000) from 264,250 euros ($322,500) in 2019, in response to StatBel, the Belgian authorities’s statistics bureau. That’s nicely above the nationwide median worth of 216,500 euros ($264,000) for an connected or semidetached home. By distinction, the typical residence worth in the neighboring Netherlands reached a document 365,000 euros on the finish of 2020, in response to a February report by realty agency Cushman Wakefield.

“Though prices are increasing in Antwerp, it’s modest compared to other European capitals,” Mr. Cavens stated.

At the highest of the steps, the flooring have authentic herringbone parquet flooring, giant built-in mirrors and a skylight. Credit…Antwerp Sotheby’s International Realty

While the coronavirus pandemic spurred some Antwerp residents to flee to the suburbs or rural areas, “we definitely did not see a panic, and relatively few people made the Hamptons decision,” stated Mr. de Ruiter, referring to everlasting strikes by some prosperous New Yorkers to Long Island enclaves. “Belgian people are more laid back. The attitude was, ‘Let’s sit this out and see what happens.’” The metropolis’s property market remained resilient because of this, he stated.

According to StatBel, the pandemic “had a limited impact on the number of property transactions” in 2020, with the lowered gross sales quantity “offset by a strong fourth quarter.” In Antwerp, transactions fell 12 months over 12 months from three,502 houses bought in 2019 to 2,422 in 2020. As Covid restrictions recede, 2021 has been busy for brokers. First-quarter 2021 residence gross sales elevated by 14.7 % in Antwerp and 11.2 % nationally, in response to notaris.be, the affiliation of Belgian notaries.

Demand for gardens and outside terraces has been the pandemic’s most important impact on Antwerp’s property market, stated Mr. Vertommen, the itemizing agent. “No matter how much money they have, everyone is looking to upgrade their primary residence to include some outdoor space,” he stated. “Before the pandemic, it was parking spaces. Now, it’s gardens or terraces.”

Who Buys in Antwerp

Antwerp’s property market is “80 percent local and Belgian buyers,” Mr. de Ruiter stated. Foreign consumers principally come from the Netherlands, drawn by the shared language and decrease housing costs. North American consumers are “incidental,” Mr. de Ruiter stated.

Frederic van Bleek, the manager director of Engel & Volkers Antwerp, stated he has seen a rise in purchases by expatriate Belgians returning residence after the pandemic. “They’re looking for security, and they want to buy their main house in the city,” he stated.

Mr. Vertommen, the itemizing agent, stated that whereas most of his international consumers are Dutch, he has bought to Israeli, Lebanese and German purchasers, who are sometimes related to Antwerp’s diamond business.

Stéphane Verbeeck, president of the Union Professionnelle du Secteur Immobilier, Belgium’s skilled actual property affiliation, stated extra international traders are discovering Antwerp. “For the first time, we’re seeing investors and equity firms coming into the market to buy residential property,” drawn by comparatively low costs and infrastructure investments by Antwerp’s authorities. “The primary buyer is the guy who owns five or six apartments, and wants more,” he stated.

A lounge is illuminated by floor-to-ceiling home windows, with a mirrored wall on one finish. Vertical zebra stripes distinction with plush divans in scorching pink and tangerine. Credit…Antwerp Sotheby’s International Realty

Buying Basics

There aren’t any restrictions on foreigners shopping for property in Belgium, stated Gregory Goossens, a associate at Taxpatria, an Antwerp tax-advisory agency that serves foreigners shifting to Belgium. Foreigners can get hold of a mortgage from Belgian banks, which typically ask for a 20- or 30-percent down fee. “But as a foreigner, with no credit history, it may be more difficult to get a loan because you have no relationship with the bank,” he stated.

Notaries, who’re government-appointed and work at fastened charges averaging round 1 % of the entire buy worth, play a key function in property gross sales, stated Bart van Opstal, spokesman for notaris.be, the official web site of Belgian notaries. “The notary checks more than 100 controls to make sure the transaction is secure, including debts on the property, rights of first refusal on the sale, even whether the electricity is OK,” stated Mr. van Opstal, who’s a notary with Vander Heyde, van Opstal, & van Tieghem in Oostende.

While legal professionals don’t typically take a job in residential transactions, “nonresidents should consult a lawyer about inheritance taxes and any income tax obligations” round rental property, stated Saskia Lust, who heads the non-public wealth follow at Loyens & Loeff, a Brussels legislation agency.

Websites

Business in Antwerp: businessinantwerp.eu

Visit Antwerp: visitantwerpen.be

City of Antwerp: antwerpen.be

Languages and Currency

Dutch; euro (1 euro = $1.22)

Just exterior the kitchen, the eating space has giant mirror, clear furnishings and a nonfunctional hearth. Credit…Antwerp Sotheby’s International Realty

Taxes and Fees

Real property commissions and notary charges in Belgium vary from three to five %, and are paid by the vendor, in response to Mr. de Ruiter of Christie’s.

Mr. Goossens of Taxpatria stated most consumers pay a switch tax of 6 %, which the Flanders regional authorities lowered from 10 % two years in the past for qualifying purchasers. (Land stays topic to a 10 % switch tax.) For the decrease charge, “you must establish your main residency at the property” by registering with the municipal authorities inside three years of buy, he stated. Mortgages incur a further notary price, and a 1 % switch tax on the worth of the mortgage. Houses and residences lower than two years previous incur a 21 % value-added tax on the development worth.

Property taxes on this residence are three,600 euros ($four,400), Mr. Vertommen stated.

Contact

Matthias Vertommen, Belgium Sotheby’s International Realty, 011-32-470-818-722, sothebysrealty.be

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