Is there any service in Belgium (similar to for example ourproperty.co.uk) where you can find out how much houses/flats etc. sold for?
No there isn't because there is no "public" register. In the UK that data comes from the land registry. In Belgium the only people who really know the value that houses are sold at are the notaires who actually do the sales, and the government who taxes it, but the value of the transactions aren't available to the public.
The only public data you can find is based on advertised prices from estate agents, and (at least around where I live) everyone knows that houses typically sell for at least 25-30% less than they are advertised.
The notaires don't want to publish that information as it would show the massive amounts of money they make from running a monopoly in order to shuffle a few papers. The government doesn't want to publish it as it would show up the massive inadequacies and inequalities of the current property tax system (revenue cadastral).
Thanks both. Especially Anon - that's exactly what I suspected, and if there's a public campaign to have a property register then sign me up. When we bought our flat the notaire kept saying that the work was really important because otherwise how would we know whether the person selling it actually owned it? My repeated assertions that most other counties had solved this problem were met with blank looks.
Yes, sorry, my link wasn't very helpful. Think I read the original question too quickly :-)
In response to Peter Alan, I would say that I thought that the actual charges made by our notaire when we bought our house were extremely good value, especially when compared with the charges made by a UK solicitor, and, since the charges in each Belgian region are fixed by law, the ability to get a constant stream of effectively free advice was extremely useful.
I might have added that notaires DO have access to the actual selling prices of properties, and if you ask your notaire, he/she will at least tell you whether your offer is significantly out of line BEFORE you have made it. The information is obviously useless after you have made an offer - one of the reasons to have started a dialogue with a notaire as a very early step in the property buying transaction chain.
Seconding what Becasse said but I would like to add a point to it. We talked to a notaire before giving the offer and notaire wrote the offer for us and we used it for 3 houses. Notary does everything so according to the rules that the owners are intimidated with the conditions and sell to the people who does not have any conditions. It may be good to get help from the notaire but think that offer over also because owners avoid all kinds of conditions. Good luck!
Just to clarify: We are rejected by three owners selling their, using a similar offer in 3 separate occasions. In all 3 times, estate agents wrote that the owner accepted the offers without conditions.
It should be obvious that, given more than one offer at more or less the same price, any seller will accept an offer which is without conditions because that offer, once accepted, is binding, the person making the offer HAS to purchase the property (or pay a penalty of 10% of the offered price) unless some fault is found with the title (which is very unlikely).
A notaire will only insert conditions in to a written offer (most usually in respect of being able to raise a suitable mortgage) if the potential purchaser needs it. Inevitably a cash purchaser is king.
What I meant is this: For example, almost every house in Belgium has some extensions which are not legal. Notary always advises to get the owner settle these before sales happens and almost all owners refuse this. So in Belgium, you take over previous owners' illegal extensions or changes in the house. And yes, you are responsible for these and you can be fined for these by the communes, if they are found out. With the new drone technology started to be used by many communes, it becomes more risky. Therefore notary wants to put you on the safe side by putting these things in the offer as conditions. However, usually owners do not want to go to the commune to do these and they can get away with this.
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