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Belgians are now looking for when it comes to housing

The latest study carried out by CBC Banque & Assurance shows what Belgians are now looking for when it comes to housing. This body that monitors real estate, Belgians and the real estate sector were tackling Covid-19 and asked 1,043 Belgians what they're looking for in terms of real estate. So what exactly does this study tell us?

People want to become homeowners

This study highlights the importance of becoming a homeowner for the vast majority of Belgians questioned. 8 out of 10 respondents said that being an owner is important and almost half of them even think that it is a priority.

The study also shows that this need for ownership relates to family. In fact, if Belgians want to become homeowners, this is primarily to put a roof over their families' heads, in 32% of cases. The youngest (25-34 years old) see this purchase more as an investment; for 29% of them, the emotional factor is not as important as for older people.

The obstacles faced by real estate plans

When we ask respondents about the obstacles to overcome when they want to invest in real estate, several answers stand out. So first, they will cite the excessively high prices of properties on the market, 38%; second, they also point to their own income, which is too low, 37%. Among the youngest, these figures even reach 50% and 47%. This is a real problem facing buyers, because while property prices are rising, the total of financial guarantees requested by banks is also on the rise. Many young people then find it difficult to access property in these circumstances.

The influence of the health crisis

Regarding the influence of the health crisis on their relationship to real estate, two thirds of those questioned believe that it has had no impact on their plans.

Around 28% of those surveyed wanted to realize their real estate plans before the crisis. Of these, 60% have made their plans a reality or are in the process of doing so. But 30% of them had to postpone their plans. While the study does not say why this postponement took place, we can assume that the health crisis has a lot to do with it. In fact, the crisis has led to a slowdown in the real estate market but also brings great uncertainty as to the future.
The study also underlines that the crisis has transformed the criteria for choosing accommodation for 2 out of 10 respondents. The essential criterion in the choice of their future accommodation being, at 58%, outside space, with a rural location being important for 36% of respondents. Belgians' requirement for outside space reflects the impact of lockdown.

However, very few of the respondents mentioned having flexible space for working from home. This rather low figure can no doubt be explained by the fact that in Belgium, properties are quite spacious, with bigger surface areas than the average in Europe.

Looking for real estate

Regarding the best way to search for a property, the vast majority of respondents (72%) cited real estate agencies, far ahead of on-line sites and word of mouth (11%) or social media (6%).

It is still interesting to note a greater use of digital tools than in the past. In fact, around two owners, or future owners, have already done a virtual viewing and a third of them say they are ready to take out a loan on-line, from start to finish. This digitization is reassuring for those concerned since it allows greater market transparency. Ads allow you to quickly view a number of properties and all banks are available on the Internet today, so it is very easy to compare the credit facilities offered by each of them.

Belgians seem ready to become homeowners, the health crisis seems to have impacted their real estate plans. So they're looking for outside space and a house rather than an apartment. Real estate practices also seem to be changing, with greater use of digital tools, in particular with regard to real estate finance. Engel & Völkers has already followed suit with exclusive digital tools. > Check them out here.

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