Engel & Völkers Licence Partner Regional Office Belgium > Blog > The penthouse, an original concept

The penthouse, an original concept

The concept of the penthouse first appeared in the 1920s, also known as the 'Roaring Twenties'. These apartments, which occupy the surface of the top floor of a housing construction, were very popular in New York until the time of the stock market crash of 1929. They then became scarce, particularly during the Second World War. The 1950s saw a boom in building and, at the same time, luxurious penthouses were built. Even today these sumptuous apartments are in great demand, especially in the centre of major cities.

The penthouse, an original apartment

In addition to its top floor location and its surface area, a penthouse has the advantage of offering luxurious services. Indeed, unlike most apartments that we usually visit, penthouses have the distinction of being very expensive. This is because they offer a wonderful and dreamlike infrastructure, such as a terrace with a breathtaking view of the city and its surroundings. A swimming pool or a mini-golf course are sometimes installed in the property. This means that if one wishes to invest in one of these magnificent apartments, it will cost in the region of one to several million euros.

So, if you want to settle in a sumptuous and luxurious residence, rather than considering villas, country houses or even a castle, why not opt for a penthouse? You will be able to enjoy living in luxury while enjoying many other benefits. The tranquillity and proximity to the attractions of a city centre will be brought together to offer you a dream life and you will also be able to enjoy a secluded outside space out while remaining close to the best that urban life has to offer.

The attractions of a penthouse

The first advantage of living at the top of a residential building is to avoid the noise and bustle of the city centre while taking advantage of its infrastructures, such as shops, schools, public transport, restaurants and cultural attractions. On the other hand, you won't be disturbed by the noise of your neighbours above or living next door to you, and the noise from the corridors of the building will not bother you. The reality of occupying a whole floor will leave you unscathed by sometimes annoying promiscuity with noisy neighbours, but you will have the opportunity to benefit from a very rich external social life.

Is a penthouse a good investment?

The acquisition of a penthouse is not within the reach of all budgets, luxury has a price. Generally, when you invest in this type of housing it is to occupy it yourself and enjoy all the advantages that such sumptuous accommodation offers. It would not be wise to buy a penthouse as a buy-to-let. The rental price would be so high that you would be hard-pressed to find someone interested in your property. On the other hand, it should be remembered that this type of housing loses its value over the years due to wear and tear. Conversely, if you wish to put your penthouse up for sale, you will have no difficulty in finding a buyer. Indeed, these dwellings are among the most prestigious properties and therefore, the most sought after. Everyone dreams of one day being able to rise in society and a penthouse is a stunning metaphor for this expression.

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Engel & Völkers - Your real estate agency

Real estate has long been a popular long-term investment option, and despite the brief contraction of the home market in the early 21st century, investing in properties continues to be a great way to ensure your financial future. The value of properties is still higher than it was 40 years ago, and the real estate market around the world has steadily grown since the first decade of the century-and will continue to do so. Working with real estate agents to buy properties that are for sale not only secures your living situation; real estate also gives you an additional source of income should you choose to rent out your home. Moreover, mortgage rates for properties are currently lower than they were a decade ago, which increases the attractiveness of buying real estate now. For those looking to buy a new home or to invest in houses or apartments they intend to rent, several countries with buoyant rental markets come to mind where purchasing property is an excellent investment. Real estate agents can help you find quality homes and apartments for sale at bargain rates on every populated continent, making it much easier to acquire real estate in a country that suits your individual needs. Our real estate agents also help you look at factors such as education, health care and employment opportunities, thereby increasing your ability to make an informed decision regarding your new home or apartment. Though certain aspects will vary based on the country and city in which you buy property, one thing remains the same: investing in real estate ensures your financial future, and acquiring property now at today’s low mortgage rates increases the profitability of your decision to buy a home or apartment.


Engel & Völkers - A real estate agent who listens to your needs

No matter where you go, we are always at your side. This is the ambition of the real estate network. With 40 years of know-how, this German company has acquired a leading position in the high-end real estate market. In addition, it can now boast an international reputation with a presence in more than 30 countries on 4 continents. The reason for such success: quality services to meet the needs of the most demanding customers. Whatever your projects, our real estate agents are at your disposal to advise you. Their rigorous professionalism, expertise and interpersonal skills will satisfy all your expectations. Whether you want to sell or buy a villa, apartment, mansion, land,... our real estate agents offer you tailor-made services. Feel free to visit our website. Frequently updated which lists many properties available on the real estate market. Wherever you are, you will have direct access to our online offer. Our 24 branches are also at your disposal in Belgium. We will be pleased to welcome you and offer you personalized advice for your real estate projects.


General analysis of the Belgian real estate market

In 2017, the construction sector was expecting a 2% increase in sales volume. In 2018, this increase was 3%. The most expensive municipality (among the 589), in terms of real estate, is Uccle. To this list of the most expensive municipalities according to the territorial distribution are then ranked Knokke-Heist, which is the most expensive municipality with a median price of €568,000. The municipality of Sint-Martens-Latem follows closely behind, reaching 514,250€, as does the municipality of Kraainem, where the median price is 490,000€. It is also important to take into account the performance of Wezembeek-Oppem, with €479,550, and Schilde, with €475,000. On the housing side, Wallonia is considered to have the most expensive apartments, particularly in Walloon Brabant, in Lasne, with an average price of 525,000 euros. The second most expensive region in this category is Brussels-Capital, with the municipalities of Uccle, €590,000, Woluwe-St-Pierre, €570,000; Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, €525,000; Boitsfort, €479,500; Ixelles, €442,500;... Flanders is facing a strong trend towards larger housing. There is a gradual pressure for private dwellings that need to be heavily renovated. The apartment segment is leading to an increase in quality new construction. With increasingly stringent government standards, it is less obvious to estimate the cost of renovations. The balance sheet tends to get worse. Private investors looking for so-called safe properties are increasingly turning to new housing that does not require any renovation. By favouring this type of property, they seek to avoid unexpected renovation costs that are difficult to estimate, but essentially also time wasted. Another trend to watch out for is larger assets. Socio-demographic statistics indicate that citizens' lifestyles tend to run counter to the ownership of large residences, such as large villas. This may be explained by the fact that many homeowners have aged and are no longer able to manage the maintenance of large properties.


Are real estate prices stable?

In Belgium, real estate agents have noticed a price evolution, attributable to an increase in the selling prices of real estate. This is the first increase in house prices in the past five years. These observations take inflation into account. The first 9 months of 2018 saw an increase of 1.3% compared to the same period in 2017. The best results were recorded in Wallonia, with a 6.5% increase in the number of transactions. However, Brussels experienced a 3.1% decline in real estate activity in 2018. A slowdown was also observed in Flanders in the last months of 2018. The Notaries' Barometer highlighted a deficit of 0.7% compared to 2017. For houses with 2-3 facades, the median Belgian price amounted to 205,000 euros in 2018 (3rd quarter). The cost of houses with 4 facades reached 290,000 euros. The cheapest region is Wallonia, with an average price of 142,000 euros (houses 2-3 facades) and 235,000 euros (4 facades). Following these results closely, the Flemish region has an average price of 234,000 euros (2-3 facades) and 320,000 euros (4 facades). The Brussels-Capital Region is the most expensive housing region, in all types of housing. Thus, houses with 2-3 facades reached a median price of €394,000, while those with 4 facades approached €1 million, with €987,500. These homes are not cheap, and experts do not expect this trend to reverse. As for the national median price, a house in Belgium with 2-3 facades cost 205,000 euros in 2018 (3rd quarter). As for the average price of a house with 4 facades, it amounted to 290,000 euros. This represents a difference of 85,000 euros to obtain a house with 4 facades. The average price of the apartments was 185,000 euros. In a context of a softening economic environment, national selling prices are the real fuel of a market. As for real estate, they should not decline. The experts even speculate that prices would increase slightly further. But it is possible that this growth may also slow down somewhat. An interesting point to keep in mind is that the expected price increases for all real estate in Belgium are essentially the same in each of the three regions.