In 2020, the Walloon real estate market remained quite strong. According to the data from the new annual survey of notaries published recently online, this strength was observed in particular in the south of the country.
Compared to 2019, real estate transactions were down 2.7%. This is the general observation made by Fednot (Federation of Notaries) in relation to activity in the residential real estate market sector.
According to our local team, this assessment is quite reassuring. Especially during a health crisis which should not normally encourage investment and trade. Following the lockdown in spring 2020, negative economic forecasts might legitimately have generated uncertainty regarding a rapid recovery of activity. But this was not what we saw. From June 2020, the market began to make up for its 2 months' missing activity, seeing a significant upturn during the summer and finally stabilizing in the last three months of the year.
Transactions almost drew to a halt in Walloon Brabant. This is the largest drop in activity observed last year in a province of Walloon.
By analyzing figures over one year, experts note that 3 regions have weathered the crisis in different ways. In 2020, we observed a drop in transactions of around 5% in Brussels and 4% in Flanders. During the same period, these same transactions rose slightly by 0.8% in Walloon. The market in Brussels is more concentrated and has been more impacted by the health crisis and lockdown measures. The many investors and developers on the market have also been held back in their real estate transactions.
On a different scale, we also see significant differences between the provinces of Walloon. For example, transactions in the provinces of Namur and Liège were up 3% compared to 2019, but transactions in Walloon Brabant fell by 8%.
Notaries observe a similar trend in 2020 with regard to the prices of second homes or prices of new homes. The average price of apartments and houses has increased from 6 to 7% depending on the type of property being sold. More particularly in Flanders, the average price of the most expensive houses has risen more than the average price of the cheapest properties.
Apart from the aforementioned factors, experts believe that this increase is due to the pressure of buyer demand for a supply reduced by measures taken in the health crisis. Many sellers are waiting for the end of the crisis to put their property on the market, for greater security and peace of mind. In the Luxembourg province, for example, prices of entry-level apartments and houses have risen sharply. With an 11% increase in 12 months, the average house price in this province was much higher than average prices in other regions of Walloon, except Walloon Brabant, where this has seen an increase of 8%.
And lastly, notaries are observing a less reassuring trend: significant stagnation among buyers under 30. Today, this group represents only a quarter of all buyers. The average age of these young buyers is therefore rising very gradually, but very definitely. Their average age is 41 in the provinces of Liège and Antwerp. Conversely, experts note that in West Flanders, a province with a very dynamic coastal real estate market, young buyers are older, with an average age of 45.
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