Park Lane stands out from the other properties on the Belgian real estate market in more than one way. Not only is it located on a unique, historic site and surrounded by our nation’s heritage, but it consists of dozens of living spaces, which all need to be marketed and sold. To break this giant task into feasible actions, we’re working with four different realtors who each bring their agencies’ experience and talent to the table. A conversation with our four real estate agents.
DEWAELE GROUP – Jean-Pierre Pesch
Can you tell us something more about Dewaele Group?
Of course! It’s a business group which offers all services related to real estate, from buying and selling residential properties, to the sale of commercial spaces and building management. In total, we have 39 offices in Flanders and Brussels, who handle about 4500 transactions each year. We make sure to guide each of our clients through their real estate process from A to Z.
Dewaele Group also has an office on the Tour & Taxis site. Does that offer you any advantages?
Obviously! (laughs) Our local realtors know their way around the site perfectly and are ready to provide potential buyers with all possible information and … the right vibes. Because at Park Lane, you don’t just buy an apartment, but you actually invest in a way of life. And that’s something we try to pass on during our personalized viewings. And by being on site, we’re also at the right spot to attract passers-by.
What are the strong points of Park Lane and what type of buyers does the project attract?
You can’t deny the amazing location. It’s an unexpectedly quiet neighborhood, with lots of parks, but you’re also near other hotspots in the city, like the Rue Dansaert or even the Grand Place, which is only a 9-minute bike ride away. It gives you the opportunity to live in a trendy, but peaceful, (almost) car-free ‘quartier’, surrounded by practical connections to public transport.
In that view it seems only logical that Park Lane attracts mostly younger people, who wish to live in the center of a buzzing city, but also want a spot where they can relax and have the space to let their (future) kids play near their homes. Meanwhile we also see some elder generations who feel the urge to return to the city, mostly for practical reasons or who see it as a valuable investment, which might one day become their new home.
PATRIMONIA – Gilbert Aelbrecht
Who is Patrimonia Real Estate?
Patrimonia Real Estate has recently started up and is born out of the wish of two people, both being in the top-3 of their respective profession: Désiré Godfroid, CEO of the Patrimonia Finance & Family Office Group, one of the best references in its field, and myself, Gilbert L. Aelbrecht, CEO of IMMOBILIER NEUF, undisputed leader for more than 16 years in residential new real estate in the Brussels region, for all municipalities and budgets.
Today it’s the only real estate agency offering an approach to real estate in both a ‘family’ spirit, while always maintaining objectivity and neutrality. We never act as promoter and we are not subservient to a particular project. This completely differentiates us from other ‘similar’ groups. We have a team of 20 experts, who can guide you through the field of taxes and other financial matters. In a more digital world, brokerage of new buildings must offer new added value. In my opinion, our ‘family office’-style absolutely meets this requirement.
How did you experience the corona measures and how did you respond to them?
Sanitary rules have only confirmed my conviction that traditional brokerage is no longer suited for today’s hyperconnected world. We need to make information more accessible to everyone and once again offer the end consumer a unique, personalized service: we have to roll out the red carpet.
According to you, what are the advantages of buying the Park Lane properties via Patrimonia Real Estate?
The advantage of using Patrimonia Real Estate is twofold:For the first-time buyer, we make it easier for them to obtain a mortgage loan thanks to a personalized study at the first meeting; and, for the investor, we advise him correctly how to diversify his financial and real estate investments. On a more personal level, I’ve had the chance to participate and share the vision of development on the Tour & Taxis site since its beginnings, some 14 years ago.
Having had my offices for more than 13 years in the Royal Depot, and today, having a branch in the Gare Maritime since June 2020, I can, in all honesty, designate you the best choice for each building; and more importantly: ask you useful questions about whether to acquire a property on the Tour & Taxis site. There is no point in blindly buying an apartment on Park Lane. There has to be an emotional and intellectual match with the concept of Tour & Taxis.
How do you see the real estate profession evolve after the COVID-19 crisis?
COVID-19 will define a new real estate market. The trend towards greener housing was initiated in early 2019: passive construction, higher PEB-requirement for private and common areas, tax advantages for green housing, sanctions for polluting boilers, environmental quality (green spaces, amenities, mobility) and, finally, the wish to avoid health risks as much as possible. Today, the Park Lane project responds perfectly to this political will and this civic choice.
WE INVEST – Jérémy Henderson
What do we need to know about We Invest?
About six years ago, We Invest was created in an attic in Dilbeek. Since then it’s grown into a network of real estate franchises. Today we already have eight offices in Brussels and Wallonia, but we’re not done yet. Our founders have raised the money to further scale up the business so we can set up all over Belgium by 2021. And by 2022 we’ve made it our goal to be present in Luxemburg, the Netherlands and France. We’re proud of our growth during the last six years, in which time we became one of the 3 largest new real estate brokerage offices in the Brussels area.
What tendencies have you spotted on the real estate market during the COVID 19 crisis?
The market has taken very different turns for existing properties and new real estate. For existing properties (from 2 to 100 years old), the market came to a complete standstill, because all open houses and visits were prohibited. But this period gave the potential buyers some time to get informed, so when everything got started again, we had three weeks during which business really boomed. By now, everything has normalized. For new real estate, the crisis had an entirely different effect. For sales based on plans, business only slowed down for a bit, but kept on going.
We do see some changes in the search criteria of our candidates. Outdoor spaces and the possibility to create a separate home office has certainly become a more important criterium for potential buyers. It’s too soon to claim that these requirements will continue to stay important over time, but it’s definitely something to take into consideration during the sale process.
What makes real estate still an interesting investment?
The stock market has experienced some serious ups and downs during and following the COVID-19 crisis. With the memories of the crash of 2008 still fresh, people are looking for the most stable investment options. And that’s to be found on the Belgian, and particularly the Brussels real estate market, where there has been no real decline because of the crisis. Therefore it’s a very safe investment, which in most cases (because of rental management) requires no workload for the investors.
Which tools and information do you use to guide potential buyers on the Park Lane site?
On Park Lane we’re fortunate to work with a promotor who puts the most qualitative tools at our disposal which allow us to explain and show our customer every aspect of the new buildings and living areas. In addition to this, the developer has an after-sales service which takes care of buyers until the reception of their apartment. Last but not least, the project benefits from particularly advantageous taxation for a new project. Everything is there to make the project a success.
PAJOTA – Thomas Valkeniers
Your agency is mainly active in the Flemish border region around Brussels. Which advantages does this entail for the sale of the Park Lane properties?
You can’t see the city of Brussels and the surrounding Flemish towns as separate entities. There’s clearly an economic and social connection, which is only growing stronger. Historically we’ve mostly seen people move away from the hustle and bustle of the city during the past forty years, but today we see a new shift towards the city for both young people who already spend their work days and free time in the city and investors who see a bunch of new opportunities in this cosmopolite environment.
Why would people from the outskirts of the city invest in projects in Brussels?
The capital is making a positive move forward, with dropping crime rates and less degeneration in the city center. As a consequence, people’s opinion of Brussels is taking a high rise. Meanwhile the city keeps on growing and spreading into the province of Flanders. Brussels is claiming a positive place in people’s minds.
You published a book on investments. Which are the ‘golden rules’ you could give any future investor?
First things first: when it comes to real estate, there’s only one golden rule: location, location, location. A lousy location makes for a lousy investment. Secondly, you need to make sure that your financial plan is solid. Get started with a realistic rental price and base your moves on this information. And when you’ve made your investment, don’t be too eager to take in tenants. Make sure to find tenants you can trust.