Belgians, who have a record amount of savings, like to invest in real estate. It’s been a well known fact for a long time, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to change any time soon. They don’t seem to be too influenced by the rumors about the so-called overvalued market, rising interest rates, or other topics concerning the sector and the market. On the contrary, 52 percent claim they have sufficient confidence in the Belgian real estate market, while this was "only" 41 percent in 2016. Even better: today, almost 39 percent of Belgians say they have "very much" confidence in our real estate market. Which is also an increase compared to 2016, when it was 28 percent.
“The research shows Belgians are more real estate minded than ever. Throughout the years, real estate has always been considered as something that offers certainty, something that has a stable value. Which is the kind of thing Belgians are drawn to, also as an investment. That is precisely why they are constantly looking for experts - instead of salesmen - who can help them to minimize risks and provide certainty.”
Pascal Steeland, Wes Research & Strategy
Investing in real estate is booming
The Real Estate Trust Barometer indicates that no less than 65 percent of Belgians consider real estate to be an “excellent” investment. Especially the classics do well: respectively 61 and 57 percent of them think houses and apartments are the most interesting investment. For the time being, existing houses (60%) still remain more popular than new buildings (43%).
Another remarkable result of the survey is the ever increasing confidence in garages as an investment, which went from 34 percent in 2016 to 42 percent in 2017. This is probably due to the perception that garages require little maintenance and few extra costs. In addition, many large parking companies have further developed this market, which stimulated the interest of the investors.
“Changing perception is a very difficult thing to do, you have to keep working on it, all the time”
Notary considered most trustworthy
In their annual survey, WES and Bereal also research how much confidence Belgians have in various real estate professions. The data don’t cover the actions and activities of these professionals, but the perception most Belgians have of them. And in that respect, the age-old clichés about the sector keep affecting this perception. Certainly for a number of specific real estate professions, there’s still some work to be done.
In 2016, the architect was still considered the most trustworthy, but that place has now been taken by the notary. Looking at the perception Belgians have of these professionals, 55 percent say they have “substantial to great” confidence in the notary. Whereas the architect came in at 53 percent this year. The third place goes to the surveyor, with 51 percent.
The reputation of the real estate broker still isn’t quite good enough, even though there was some progress compared to last year. In 2016 little more than 24 percent indicated they have confidence in real estate brokers, regardless of whether or not they had already worked with a broker. While in 2017, this number increased to 31 percent. The underlying factors that have improved the general image are the price to quality ratio, the success rate of the broker’s sales and the extent to which their advice is considered useful.
“Whether it’s justified or not, the entire real estate sector has been struggling with a bad image for years. Changing perception is a very difficult thing to do, you have to keep working on it, all the time. But it’s remarkable to see that certain professions’ reputations - such as the brokers’ - are improving, as the results of our survey indicate. Sharing your expertise, telling your story in a substantiated professional manner, and informing the Belgian people, clearly seem to contribute to this.”
Dajo Hermans, Bereal
Project developers suffering from a bad reputation
Looking at the results of the survey, the project developers are the outsiders. Their 34,5% was not the lowest confidence percentage among the various professions, but it was no statistically significant increase compared to last year. Nearly 60 percent of Belgians complain about the project developers’ price to quality ratio and question their lack of professional know-how.
“The survey was conducted before the media started reporting about the links between the Antwerp government and the real estate business. But even without this negative media attention, project developers have been struggling with a bad image for years. And the real estate sector realizes this very well. Several companies and organisations are trying to turn the tide, by choosing the path of credibility and expertise. But sadly, just one negative story, or one project that encounters protest, can sometimes be enough to ruin the Belgians’ image of the sector all over again. Especially because it often concerns million-dollar projects in the backyards of those Belgian people. That is precisely why it is so important that they share their expertise as much as possible, and that they are as transparent as possible.”
Dajo Hermans (Bereal) and Pascal Steeland (Wes Research & Strategy)
The Real Estate Trust Barometer - a representative survey - is an annual assessment of the image of the real estate sector and the Belgians’ confidence in the real estate market. Bereal, a communications agency specialized in real estate, and WES, a market research and consultancy firm, surveyed a representative sample of 1500 Belgians across the country last year.