It is not common to go from notary to real estate agent…
I was a notary for ten years. I decided to change direction eight years ago when my second child was born. Real estate was always my heart’s choice, and the profession was more practical as a mother. In fact, I think I was a frustrated architect, and real estate seemed like a kind of “Belgian compromise”.
What are the specificities and services offered by Barnes for the Belgian market?
Barnes is specialised in the sale and rental of high quality real estate: mansions, villas, manor houses, luxurious city apartments, penthouses with terraces, pied a terre… We have very beautiful properties, large residences with parks, swimming pools, tennis courts, close to the city and its animation. So we have a lot of quality properties in our portfolio, but we also have more modest properties. However, the latter always have a little something extra, either in the materials or in the location. We are present everywhere in Brussels and more specifically in the South, in particular in Ixelles, Uccle, Watermael-Boitsfort, the communes of Woluwé…
What are the current trends in the Brussels market?
The Brussels market has above all properties with character and soul for sale. There is of course a real craze for green spaces, terraces and gardens, but also bright and pleasant places to live. New real estate programs now also include dedicated work spaces. Indeed, prospective buyers often wish to have a multi-purpose space or annexes, whether to set up their offices or to give each member of the family a private space. Some offers in the high-end property sector also favour sports halls, swimming pools and even tennis courts. In general, people want to enjoy more space.
What do Belgian buyers turn down when it comes to property investment?
Belgian buyers often refuse to be confronted with noise pollution. It must be said that Belgians can generally afford the luxury of peace and quiet, which is not available to everyone. But it is also cultural. In Italy, for example, some people like views of busy squares. Here, people prefer to move into a small perpendicular street, rather than directly onto a boulevard.
What developments or changes in attitude have you observed since the beginning of your activity?
Large properties that are passed from generation to generation are no longer in vogue. Buyers often prefer to buy two properties: one for themselves, and a second for their children as they grow up. People no longer buy for a lifetime, but for a slice of life. There’s a lot of thinking going on around this. It has to be said that we are seeing many changes, whether in the workplace or in the family (particularly with the rise in divorce rates). People want an innovative project that corresponds to the period of their lives.
New residential projects, mansions or private residences to be completely renovated, what is the appeal of these properties today?
French expatriates, for example, have a very specific taste: they appreciate mouldings and the Haussmannian style, as in Paris; mansions with high ceilings. Belgians, on the other hand, are more interested in new properties and want light and large walls to display works of art; houses or apartment-galleries with large reception areas.
Who are your customers for Barnes ?
Expatriates, with many French, but also many Belgian families. Indeed, the patrimonial organization has been turned upside down these last years, but the Belgian keeps his “brick in the belly”, with always a desire to leave something to his children. At the moment, they are more inclined to buy rental houses that have been transformed into coworking spaces, or small apartments for rent.
Today, there is a lot of movement in real estate transactions…
People are staying in their properties for less time than before. Society is changing faster and people are now living several lives in one. This is reflected in everyone’s real estate career. In addition, more people are working from home, even more so since the beginning of the pandemic. People can also carry out all their activities from home: taking training courses, practising sport, shopping online, etc. So people are putting more emphasis on interior comfort, the living environment, in order to feel as good as possible in their cocoon.
How does this desire for greater comfort translate?
The fact that our customers travel and go out less has reinforced their desire to improve their living spaces. This can be seen in the creation of professional spaces, gyms and even small spas in the most luxurious homes. This is also felt in blended families: parents now want each child to have his or her own room, even if they are there every other week. This was not necessarily the case before. Everyone should be able to enjoy complete well-being at home, and the current housing market reflects this.
What are the advantages of prestige real estate in Brussels?
Properties on the high-end market are differentiated by their finishing. The level of quality is close to new in terms of renovation and remains high in Brussels, a dynamic and buoyant market, much more so than in England, for example, or in Italy, where properties are maintained but often based on the recovery of old elements. In Switzerland, properties can also be very expensive. The price-quality ratio is much better in Brussels. We excel in the sale and rental of noble properties. This is one of the trademarks of Barnes.
Avenue Louise 404 A, 1000 Brussels