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  • International Survey CENTURY 21 BENELUX: what will 250,000 euros buy you around the world? Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    Belgian buyers are still getting value for money

    As it does every year, real estate organization CENTURY 21 BENELUX held an international survey to answer the question of what sort of real estate 250.000 euros will buy today. Remarkably, our country still scores well in comparison to our neighbours with regard to the price/quality ratio: for 250.000 euros, you still get your money's worth. "The Belgian housing market's problem isn't quality of living," states Geoffroy de Wilde, director-general of CENTURY 21 BENELUX. "It's the tougher constraints on credit and the dwindling purchasing power which are causing an increasing affordability issue."

    The past year, the average price of an ordinary home in our country fluctuated around 195,000 euros, just about the same figure as at that time last year. So in 2014, if you have a budget of 250,000 euros, you can find a reasonable-quality home. For that price, however, buyers will always have to make some sacrifices, either with regard to location, surface area or finish. For instance, a well-located home with a 250,000-euro price tag often requires some "freshening up"; similarly, a ready-to-move-in home will frequently have a smaller surface area. Generally, price and quality are in proportion, especially when compared to the neighbouring countries.

    These are the results of CENTURY 21 BENELUX's international study. In Belgium, in practice, you'll find a nice, well-renovated 141-m² terraced house in Mechelen on the edge of town for some 250,000 euros. As Belgian homes go, more of a "compact" house than a large one, but move-in-ready and in a very central location in Belgium. In Leuven, the situation is analogous: for the same price you'll find a 150-m² single-family home, which still requires some renovation work; however, it is a detached house.

    South of the language border, you'll often get more bang for your buck. Especially if you go further into Wallonia. Near Jodoigne, on the language border with Flanders, you'll find a nicely-finished family home with a garage, a spacious garden, a pond, a swimming pool, and even solar panels for 250,000 euros. In Dinant, you can buy a charming 366 m² city home with wide-ranging opportunities with regard to, for example, running a B&B. Or: a charming 186-m² 5-bedroom villa with a view of the countryside.

    30-m² studio in London

    Compared to Belgium, buyers from neighbouring countries often have to settle for less. That's especially true for the more urban regions. In Ormesson sur Marne, near Paris, 250,000 euros will buy you a 56-m² two-bedroom detached home, which still needs some work. For the same sum, you'll find a 30-m² studio in London and an old, semi-detached 100-m² home with three bedrooms in Liverpool.

    If we extend our horizons somewhat, we get a highly variegated picture. In Beijing, 250,000 euros will buy you a 40-m² studio. It's small, but it does have hotel service. In Mexico, you'll be able to find a spacious 250-m² 3-bedroom home in a residential area, including 3 garages and a 220-m² garden. In a city like Prague, in turn, the same amount will buy you a 154-m², 5-bedroom family home with a private lake.

    Correct price/quality ratio

    According to Geoffroy de Wilde, top executive at CENTURY 21 BENELUX, the study proves that Belgians are still getting their money's worth when they buy a home. "Throughout the world, we're not unique in this, but in our region, this situation is slowly but surely becoming exceptional," says de Wilde. "If we want to hold on to that correct price/quality ratio, it's essential that the government continue to stimulate property acquisition. After all, Belgians are still buying homes as a long-term investment rather than as a form of speculation. So far, this still ensures a high-quality supply in the housing market, as far as both materials and surface area are concerned."

    According to the top executive of CENTURY 21 BENELUX, if we complain about the real estate market in Belgium, it's not because we're not getting value for money, but because of the high pressure at the time of purchase. "Credit conditions are stricter, the own contribution is becoming more and more important, and furthermore, registration fees are higher here than anywhere else in Europe. Purchasing a home is no longer self-evident. Therefore, we can only call on the governments in this country to take the necessary measures. Starting with a reduction of the registration fees."

    For more information as well as interview requests

    Sybille Colin
    Century 21 Benelux
    0476/66 62 77 - sybille.colin@century21.be

    Jeroen Wils
    Bereal (Bepublic subsidiary specialized in real estate communication)
    0475/30 75 06 - jeroen@bereal.be

    See appendix 2 for the selected homes, including characteristics and pictures. Please let us know if you would like to receive higher-resolution versions of the pictures. 

     

  • CENTURY 21 Benelux announces restructuring to reinforce market leader position Friday, August 29, 2014

    New Director General expands estate agents’ service offering

    CENTURY 21 Benelux is announcing the real estate group’s largest restructuring since its establishment in our country in 1995. The Belgian market leader in the field of residential real estate is being fully taken over by investment firm Avana Capital Investment and wants to strengthen its position considerably in Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands. “The Belgian market is ready for renewal,” says Geoffroy de Wilde, the group’s new CEO. “Because the real estate consumer wants more than just to buy or sell a house through his estate agent.” 

    After a career of nearly 20 years as CEO of CENTURY 21 Benelux, founder Mathieu Verwilghen is passing the torch to Geoffroy de Wilde, executive director of investment firm Avana Capital Investment. Verwilghen built the group into the Belgian market leader with 190 offices, a constant offering of more than 8000 properties, and a turnover of €46 million. In order to ensure a smooth transition, the former CEO will remain active within the group in the coming years as director of development and training.

    The new CEO of the real estate group, Geoffroy de Wilde, emphasises that he wants to ensure sustainability but that he also sees a number of new challenges. “There is more and more involved in the purchase of a residence, both purely practical as well as legal,” de Wilde says. “In that respect, the market in our country is ready for an expansion of the services offered by our estate agents. Today, people no longer go to an estate agent just to buy or sell a house – the desire for good advice and support in many other areas is growing constantly.”

    So, together with his predecessor, Geoffroy de Wilde is preparing for an expansion of activities in his own country. In addition, over time, the real estate group is planning 10 new offices in Luxembourg and then further expansion in the Netherlands.

    Abolish the housing bonus (or the tax benefit of the mortgage) entirely?

    Along with the strengthening, the group also wants to work on an even more intensive professionalisation. This should include formulating a response to the ever more complex legislation, which is beginning to differ dramatically in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. An equally large challenge is also the introduction of a number of new concepts. Thus, various partnerships are being established, so that the real estate consumer can increasingly count on a total package. Or more concretely: the buyer will not only be able to purchase a house – in the same motion, via various partnerships, the real estate office will also be able to offer, for example, moving services, paintwork, and so on.

    The group wants to promote even more innovative ideas, in the political arena as well. The market leader is a strong advocate of the complete abolishment of the housing bonus, on the condition that the registration is dealt with. “As things stand now, the purchase of a house in the next few years will still be fiscally penalised via stringent registration laws, and only afterwards just partially fiscally rewarded. If the government wants to influence the affordability of housing, it needs to make sure that the fiscal costs upon the purchase of a house stay under control,” says Mathieu Verwilghen, the real estate group’s resigning CEO.

    More transactions

    According to CENTURY 21, the real estate consumer is more than ever looking for certainty and professional guidance, and that is also reflected in the real estate group’s sales figures. Thus, during the first half of 2014, 1.9% more properties were sold via CENTURY 21 estate agents than in the same period in 2013. That is all the more remarkable given that the FOD Economie figures several weeks ago still indicate an overall decline of 9.5% in the number of transactions in the same period.

    Furthermore, in the first half of 2014, the group saw the housing prices in Flanders rise by 2.19% and the prices of apartments fall by 3.35%. In Wallonia, the decline in apartment prices was somewhat milder (-1.37%), but the housing prices also went down (-1.29%). In Brussels, the price of an apartment fell by 4.62% and the price of a house rose by 3.58%.

    CENTURY 21 is the world’s largest real estate organisation, with more than 6,900 offices in 75 countries. CENTURY 21 is the market leader in our country as well. Active in Belgium since 1995, the group has 190 offices and more than 800 employees in the Benelux. 

     

  • 10 countries, 10 property markets Friday, October 11, 2013

    Property around the world

    As is the custom every year at its international conference which, early this October, brought together property specialists from over thirty countries, CENTURY 21, the N°1 real estate company in Belgium and globally, made a comparison of the markets and can now present the results of this international survey. This year’s theme: “What are the most striking characteristics of your market?” And the conclusion? From Taiwan to France, through Australia, the Netherlands or Luxembourg, the results of this real estate world tour are varied to say the least.

    Germany

    • Detached houses are the type of property remaining for sale the longest (more than 6 months) before they find a buyer.
    • Apartments for sale are very popular with young people (couples) aged 20-30.
    • The state encourages environmental friendliness through financial assistance to buyers.
    • Interest rates amount to approximately 3% (for a loan over 10 years). The average cost of a house (detached) is €350,000; the average price for building land and apartments is around €150,000 maximum. A house (semi-detached) will cost on average between €250,000 and €350,000.
    • In order to become homeowners, young people often rely on financial support from their parents.

    England

    • Apartments are particularly popular with single people who prefer to buy rather than rent.
    • On the property transaction market in general, apartments are also the most sought-after property type.
    • Government financial support to assist house buyers does not exist.
    • After a period of crisis, the housing market is again stabilising and is back to its pre-2008 level.

    Australia

    • Australian families prefer, by far, to purchase land to build their dream home.
    • Young, single people aged 20-30 prefer to buy an apartment.
    • On average, it takes less than a month to carry out the sale of a particular property.
    • Interest rates amount to 5%.
    • A house (detached) costs on average less than a townhouse: €350,000 compared to €450,000.

    Belgium

    • The rising number of single-parent families has an influence on the property market, in particular the sale of apartments, for which demand is increased.
    • Today, young families are opting for alternative financing in order to become home owners.
    • Interest rates are between 3% and 5%. The property market is getting back to normal with a 12% increase in the number of transactions during the first nine months of 2013 compared to the same period last year, as well as a stabilisation in average sale prices.
    • The language border is no longer an insurmountable barrier for a whole category of the population looking for housing adapted to their resources and requirements.
    • There is a noticeable tendency towards a reduction in the surface area of new builds due to the costs of the new applicable standards.

    Canada

    • An owner should expect to wait between one and two months to sell a house.
    • The first-time buyer deposit is often paid totally by the family of the (young) buyers.
    • Apartment buyers are mainly single people or retired people.
    • Apartments are generally sold more quickly than in Europe.

    France

    • The property market recently underwent major changes with a 15% decrease in the number of transactions and a 20% drop in average prices.
    • A detached house costs on average between €150,000 and €250,000, which is less than the European average.
    • The first property purchase generally takes place between the ages of 30 and 40.
    • Building plots are the least sought-after property type, behind terraced houses, apartments and detached houses.

    Luxembourg

    • The average price for an apartment is the highest in Europe: in excess of €350.000.
    • This market is dominated by demand from families, unlike the rest of Europe where it is mainly the first purchase of a single person or a young couple.
    • New and/or renovated real estate accounts for a major share of the properties on the market.
    • The average price of a detached villa/house in Luxembourg is €700,000.

    Mexico

    • The average interest rate is particularly high here: 12%.
    • The most common type of property in this real estate market is the apartment. Buildings are often old and require partial or total renovation.
    • On the other hand, the villa and house market mainly comprises new or renovated real estate.
    • The housing market is expanding.

    Netherlands

    • Interest rates are approximately 5%.
    • The market for apartments is mainly rental, and the market for detached houses and villas is dominated by sales.
    • After having reached their lowest level in 2013 with a 20% drop in prices compared to 2008, prices are beginning to stabilise.
    • Compared to Belgium, rental stock is high, with a 50/50 split between the rental and transactional markets.

    Taiwan

    • Buying an apartment costs on average €515,000, and a building plot €1,127,000.
    • The Taiwanese government provides financial assistance to first-time buyers.
    • Buyers of building plots are mainly the middle-aged (aged 46 - 64) and seniors (65 and over).
    • Interest rates are generally lower than in Europe, between 2 and 3%.
     

  • CENTURY 21 Benelux again rewarded with ISO 9001:2008 certificate Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    After an independent external audit, CENTURY 21 Benelux ISO 9001:2008 certificate has been extended for another three years. CENTURY 21 Benelux certificate delivered by this renowned quality assurance system shows that the company meets the strict requirements that are set by the ISO standard for quality management. It also shows that the organisation has continued to improve its processes over the past years in order to ensure sustainable services of outstandingly high quality. As it was already the case in 2010, CENTURY 21 Benelux continues to be the only certified real estate organisation in Belgium.

    Quality standards within the real estate sector
    Quality labels and standards have become a sine qua non condition in today’s society: they represent a guideline in the search for quality. After CENTURY 21 Benelux received its ISO 9001:2008 certificate for the first time in 2010 for a period of three years, it has now been extended until 2016. This enables CENTURY 21 Benelux to claim that it demonstrably devotes every effort, year in and year out, to ensure high quality service.

    “Within our organisation, we make every effort to provide high quality day in and day out. For example, we are the only real estate organisation in Belgium to provide an unconditional quality guarantee for every sale, and we offer consumers a quality service that quickly and thoroughly examines every customer comment,” explains Mathieu Verwilghen, General Manager CENTURY 21 Benelux. “Having our organisation certified in 2010 was a logical consequence of our existing quality policy – just like having the certification extended.”

    CENTURY 21 Benelux received the prestigious ISO 9001:2008 certificate after a series of external audits. “Having an independent organisation audit your business processes offers new insights. This enables us to query our processes and to hone them where necessary. In addition, what is particularly good about this certification is that we are audited every year and that a very extensive audit takes place every three years, when the certificate needs to be renewed. We are therefore engaged in an on-going effort to continuously deliver the same high quality services consumers rightly demand.”

    The ISO Standard guarantees that CENTURY 21 Benelux maintains a specific quality standard for all its processes
    ISO (International Organization for Standardization) unites the national standardization institutes of 163 countries. The ISO 9001:2008 standard sets specific requirements for the quality management system of a company or organisation. With a strong focus on customers, motivation and the involvement of top management, processes need to be subjected to continuous improvement. The underlying objective is to meet customer needs and expectations, as well as offering guarantees to consumers by minimising error risk through standardization. An ISO 9001:2008 certificate guarantees that consumers will be provided with consistent high quality products and/or services.

    This means, among other things, that an organisation must document all of its processes at all levels and also communicate them to its employees. Based on customer requirements, the organisation develops standards, establishes indicators and organises their monitoring in order to improve their quality policy.

    For example, CENTURY 21 Benelux imposes demanding requirements, specific standards and procedures on its franchise holders. One of the tools CENTURY 21 Benelux uses to guarantee the high quality of its services, is its Quality Evaluation Form. In addition, every year CENTURY 21 Benelux also gives a Quality Award to selected offices, based among other things on compliance with the different procedures, the quality of the service and the number of WAW’s received (“thank you’s” from customers who take the trouble personally to show their appreciation to the relevant CENTURY 21 office for its excellent service). Offices that have not only fully met customer expectations but exceeded them throughout the year receive the Quality Award.

    “With the ISO 9001-2008 certificate we are confirming that at CENTURY 21 we focus on increasing customer satisfaction by exceeding customer requirements and demands as well as meeting the legal requirements that apply to our business. We realise that our customers appreciate our efforts: more than 40% of all customers return our Quality Evaluation Form after the transaction has taken place, and no less than 14% state that they received better service than expected. In addition, some 92% of our customers state that they would recommend us to friends and acquaintances. The number of customers who would call on us again has also increased since our ISO certification,” concludes Mathieu Verwilghen.

    Additional information about the ISO Standard can be found on: http://www.iso.org

     

  • What real estate properties are available today for 250 000 eur? Thursday, September 27, 2012

    WHAT REAL ESTATE PROPERTIES ARE AVAILABLE TODAY FOR 250,000 EUR?

    Following a long standing tradition, CENTURY 21, the N°1 in real estate in Belgium and globally, has held its annual international survey this summer. This year's question: what real estate properties are available today for €250,000? Across the world, the range of properties offered for this price is exceptionally wide - depending on the specific characteristics of the property and its location, it varies from 2-bedroom flats to detached 5-bedroom villas. Of course, local interest rates and purchasing power also play a decisive role.
     

    Offers on the Belgian real estate market?
    Broadly speaking, €250,000 in Belgium buys you a semi-detached house with 170m² of living space and three bedrooms in perfect condition. Depending on the location, however, there are some notable differences. For example,  €250,000 will fetch a partially renovated terraced house with 125m² of living space, 3 bedrooms, parking space and a garden in Vilvoorde, while for the same price CENTURY 21 offers ready-to-move-in semi-detached homes with 200-300 m² of living space, 3-4 bedrooms, a large garden and a spacious or even a double garage in Kortrijk, Turnhout or Mechelen. In Arlon, the same amount will purchase a brand new 2-bedroom apartment with a large terrace in the centre. Finally, in Liege, interested buyers can even snap up a recently renovated 4-bedroom villa on a 2300 m² plot for €250,000.

    And what can you get for € 250,000 in neighbouring countries and exotic locations?
    Real estate markets in the surrounding countries vary greatly. In Luxembourg City, a 60m² 2-bedroom apartment is on offer for €250,000. In the Netherlands, you can find a 150m² detached house with 4 bedrooms for that price. Paris has now overtaken New York as the world's third most expensive city with an average cost per square meter of €18,000, which is reflected in the demand on the market: a 1-bedroom 28m² apartment without a garage.

    Just across the channel, in Ireland and Scotland, the same amount buys you a recently built, detached home with 4-5 bedrooms and a garage in green surroundings with easy access to major cities.

    Finally, for €250,000, more exotic locations offer 1-bedroom ground floor apartments on the beach (Australia), recently built 180m² 3-bedroom apartments (South Africa) or detached houses with 5 small bedrooms and a large garden (New Zealand).

    Belgian real estate market stable
    The real estate market in Belgium is certainly not doing poorly and the prices for Belgian properties remain stable. Based on figures from the CENTURY 21 organization, the average purchase price in Belgium is slightly below €250,000 with €213,493 in Flanders, €147,750 in Wallonia and €206,320 in Brussels. Compared with figures from the same period in 2011, these prices indicate an average increase of 4%. CENTURY 21 also noted that in the first half of 2012, the number of properties offered on the market has increased by 18% with an average selling time of 90 days. "Owners are increasingly offering their property at a realistic price, since they also benefit from this," explains Mathieu Verwilghen, General Manager of CENTURY 21 Benelux. "When these elements are taken into consideration, together with the current historically low interest rates, the interesting range of properties offered and the home-building culture of the Belgians, it is clear there are positive signs for the Belgian real estate market and that there is no housing bubble or overvaluation."