The sector has lived, a bit like us, a very special year marked by confinements and deconfinements. Between gloom, worries and high hopes. Story of a year in three stages.
After an encouraging year in 2019, especially in terms of the number of sales, the market is entering 2020 on the same path. But quickly, concern about the coronavirus is gaining ground. In mid-March, the ax falls, the Belgians will have to confine themselves. And real estate at the same time. Everything is at a standstill. In just three months, the sector had time to experience a significant drop in activity. According to the Barometer of Notaries, the volume of the number of transactions fell by 7,9% between the 1er January and March 29. The 2e quarter confirms the trend. Compared to this same period in 2019, the number of transactions decreased by 15,9%. Over the first six months of the year, we are at 10,7%. We have to go back to 2015 to find such a low number of transactions. Until May 11, real estate, like many Belgians, was somewhat gloomy. But the announcement of deconfinement offers a wave of hope.
We find the smile
Containment has a double effect on the residential real estate market. The first ? A boom as soon as the sector reopens. Real estate agencies find themselves overwhelmed by the number of requests for visits. In some groups, no less than 2000 to 3000 visits are planned per week. A rush that is reflected in the figures: + 11,6% compared to 3e quarter 2019. It's quite simple, there have never been as many real estate transactions in July and August as in 2020, according to statistics from the Federation of Notaries, which has been recording these data since 2007.
The trends are not the same across the country, however. In Flanders and Wallonia, the number of transactions increased by around 15% compared to August 2019. In the Brussels region, it is the opposite; -6%. Like a large majority of us, buyers wanted to find nature. This is the second effect of Covid-19. The real estate market on the Belgian coast quickly recovered from the first confinement with a constant increase in the number of transactions from June to September. Up to 30% more in September compared to 2019. Apart from the Coast, Walloon Brabant has also experienced a spectacular increase, explained by a desire to find green spaces in the immediate vicinity of Brussels. The Jeune Province also posted the largest price increase in the country, at 12%. If demand has almost exploded after confinement, it has not been offset by a sufficient supply, whether for houses but also for apartments.
In Wallonia, the increase in real estate activity shows a proud record of 30% more during the month of September! The runaway summer was confirmed during the start of the school year but did not make it possible to make up for the drop in containment activity. Across the country, the decline is 3,5% in the first nine months of 2020.
The Indian summer ended in October with a significant drop in transactions, on the order of 19% averaging all provinces. More than a real warming up of the real estate market after confinement, the experts speak rather of a catch-up effect which took several months to occur. The figures expected for the last quarter of this very special year should confirm this return to equilibrium. Prices also tend to stabilize. Except for the most popular goods, which continue to sell for more and more. A phenomenon which can be explained by the little impact that confinement had on the wealthiest buyers.
As for new goods, they do not arrive in number on the market, the fault of permits that do not arrive or late. We can therefore expect their prices to rise in the long term. Generally speaking, ING Belgium estimates that price growth should be 5% over the whole of 2020. And the outlook for 2021 is nuanced. The impact of 2e confinement could affect a certain part of the population which had hitherto been relatively spared. The recent rise in prices coupled with the prolongation of the health crisis should somewhat cool the real estate market.