Never before have there been so few new apartment projects for sale in Brussels. The offer per quarter. The consequence is obvious: prices explode. And that seeps through to the market for existing apartments and to rents. It rekindles the debate about urban densification.
The quarters follow each other, and time and again the figures show that the supply of new-build apartments in Brussels has fallen. The supply has never been so low since Trends and the real estate analysis agency De Crombrugghe & Partners started analyzing the market in 2013. All Brussels municipalities are affected. There are now 1,393 condominiums for sale, down 45 percent in three years. That puts inevitable pressure on the market, all the more so as thoughts remain in an apartment as an investment. A bright spot reports that there are a quarter more building permits this year than in 2020.
The quarters follow each other, and time and again the figures show that the supply of new-build apartments in Brussels has fallen. The supply has never been so low since Trends and the real estate analysis agency De Crombrugghe & Partners started analyzing the market in 2013. All Brussels municipalities are affected. There are now 1,393 condominiums for sale, down 45 percent in three years. That puts inevitable pressure on the market, all the more so as thoughts remain in an apartment as an investment. A bright spot reports that this year, there will be a quarter more building permits in 2020. The price increase compared to 2018 is only 2.7 percent. The municipalities in the south and west of Brussels are affected. Prices in Auderghem, Uccle, Watermael-Boitsfort and Sint-Pieters-Woluwe have increased by 5.85 percent compared to last year. In Anderlecht, Vorst and Molenbeek there was an increase of 4.55 percent, but they nevertheless remain the most affordable in the capital. The Only in the north (Laeken, Neder-Over-Heembeek, Jette, Koekelberg and Ganshoren) is the offer. But prices have also increased for this (+12.15%). This has to do with the Tour & Taxis project, worth 4000 euros per square metre. The lack of supply of new-build apartments is also pushing up prices on the market for existing apartments, as prospective buyers try their luck there. According to the latest figures collected by the real estate analysis bureau of Crombrugghe & Partners, prices on the secondary markets in Brussels have been updated by at least 5 percent since 2018 in almost all municipalities (see table secondary market). In eight municipalities they have even increased by almost 10 percent: Brussels City, Ixelles, Sint-Joost-ten-Node, Jette, Laeken, Evere, Schaerbeek and Sint-Pieters-Woluwe. Ixelles remains the most expensive Brussels municipality, followed by Woluwe-Saint-Pierre. The most affordable municipalities are Ganshoren, Koekelberg and Molenbeek. Meanwhile, the high prices are also filtering through to the rental market. In twelve Brussels municipalities, the rent for a standard apartment of 80 square meters is already above 1,000 euros per month. In Elsen, it already amounts to 1,200 euros. The return on investments does not vary very much: from 3.4 percent in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre to 4.6 percent in Evere. This is fueling debates about urban planning in Brussels. Perspective.brussels, the spatial planning think tank of the Brussels government, is working on ten master plans to improve life in the city. Which have been approved for the Ixelles barracks, the Weststation and Heyvaert sites. They are in the pipeline for Midi, Josaphat, Mediapark, Defense (the former NATO site) and Maximilian, among others. The think tank also makes an inventory of office buildings that can be converted into homes. “The need for quality and green space has become very great”, Antoine de Borman, the new director of Perspective.brussels. Otherwise we will remain residential areas near Grimbergen, Zemst or in Walloon Brabant. The aim is to build the necessary density in Brussels, to redesign a series of city entrances such as Hermann-Debroux, Reyers, Heysel, Anderlecht and to tackle former railway sites Josaphat, Schaerbeek-Vorming, Weststation, Delta. Those are interesting land reserves to develop.” There is a lot of protest against the plans to occupy those large areas. The conversion into housing of empty office buildings, good for one million square meters in the capital, is an argument. “Presenting the transformation of offices into homes as the ultimate solution to the housing problem is caricatured and simplistic,” says De Borman. “There are already many reconversions that have come on the market in 2020, are in such a project.” is the message, is the conviction of De Borman, who regrets that this is seen in such a negative light in Brussels: “The term density can mean very different things. Good quality of life through sufficient open and green space leads to a better quality of life. The fifteen-minute city (where everyone can find all services in fifteen minutes on foot, ed.) requires a certain density.”