More than 100 years of real estate expertise in the most beautiful areas of the Zoute
Building an iconic summer and winter resort town
The Compagnie Het Zoute real estate group is the historical witness of the development of the Zoute, as it is still known today. A company founded by the iconic Lippens family of entrepreneurs in 1908, to consolidate their property portfolio and the style and design of housing in Knokke (initially mainly dunes and farmland). The Compagnie Het Zoute extended its vision to several areas. It succeeded in creating a timelessly elegant and renowned seaside resort, consisting of a nature reserve – the Zwin Nature Park, the Royal Zoute Golf Club and Royal Zoute Tennis Club. Thus Knokke was born.
The local architectural style is still characterised by the luxury of country living, nature at hand and harmony. An eternal symbiosis: white painted facades, red tiles or thatched roofs, and large gardens and balconies for each plot. The cycle paths continue to carefully border the many properties for sale, making Le Zoute a popular destination for Belgians, foreigners wishing to invest and tourists visiting for holidays or a weekend. Although renowned architects have sometimes succeeded in making their way here with their modernist creations, such as the Antwerp architect Henry van de Velde (1863-1957) and his Noordhinder-Westhinder villa, the classical urban planning of the Lippens continues to be respected. Also, the real estate market is active in all seasons in Knokke-le-Zoute.
The real estate market and its records according to Compagnie Het Zoute
Compagnie Het Zoute, a developer of new projects in Knokke and now mainly active in the Netherlands, is continuing to observe an upsurge in real estate acquisitions. According to Olivier Enthoven, marketing director of the company, “demand remains so much higher than supply, both for Belgian and foreign buyers.” The “price explosion”, known for many years, is an understatement. Sales records are regularly exceeded (“the year 2020 was beyond excellent”), and the needs of Belgian and international clients are becoming more refined year after year. “More than ever, buyers are looking for land on which to build high-quality properties, not only in terms of interior comfort but also with regard to constantly evolving environmental standards. Large windows are still a must for new homes, while the connection to the surrounding nature is becoming a primary criterion for many buyers, especially those who were previously destined to buy apartments in the city centre.
The know-how of Compagnie Het Zoute is a must and justifies the prices charged. “Four years ago, the apartment building La Rive sold for 9,000 euros per square metre,” says Olivier Enthoven, “and two years ago, the private residence project Zwinduinen, designed by El Architects and sold by the Cambier de Nil agency, sold for around 17,500 euros per square metre. Today they are said to have risen by 20% as a result of the strong interest in Knokke and its magnificent houses between land and sea during the pandemic. On the sea view side, the resale of an old project of our Company, such as the emblematic Finis Terrae, would be offered at 40,000 euros per square metre. The exception is the rule.
Agencies: get in touch with the best in residential real estate and second homes
The valuation, search and sale of a new or old property in Knokke-Heist are part of the services offered by the most beautiful agencies installed in the most exclusive municipality of the Belgian coast and all its different districts.
Dirk Willemyns: a real trustworthy house for prestigious properties
Dirk Willemyns answers all real estate requests for personalised visits: magnificent building plots, exceptional villas or architect’s duplexes on the dike… Their personal approach and their team guarantee an optimal service for all those looking for sales and rentals without loss of value. The support offered by An and his father Dirk Willemyns for valuations in the context of resales is also a strong point of the real estate agency. “Dirk Willemyns was founded by my great-grandfather César Willemyns in 1926. My grandfather Raymond Willemyns succeeded him. My father Dirk opened a second office at the Sparrendreef, followed by a third office on the dike at Zoute. I represent the fourth generation,” says An Willemyns confidently. “We have just finished an exceptional year, in which we were happy to forget our turnover… In many cases, the prices asked by the sellers were not even discussed by the buyers. In 2022, the agency will present for sale some beautiful villas and new buildings that will delight the ever-increasing number of buyers.”
Cambier de Nil : visit three real estate agencies in the heart of Zoute
Cambier de Nil has three offices in the heart of Le Zoute, which allow them to keep abreast of the latest developments, offers and opportunities in Le Zoute. The founders, real estate professionals Catherine De Nil and Patrick Cambier, focus primarily on the strategic location and uncompromising quality of the properties they offer for sale and rent. The rarity and charm of the properties they sell range from renovated penthouses by interior architects, in recent buildings and in charming houses in the quiet area around the Zoutelaan and its legendary addresses such as the Marie Siska hotel-restaurant.
Immo Bis: service excellence, customer confidence and international network
Immo Bis has grown since it was founded in 1976 by Michel de Bisscop and his wife Véronique, who initially focused on rental, sales and management. In 2006, brothers Gregory and Axel De Bisscop took over the reins of the family business and consolidated the company’s network and its position in the high-end segment. “The real estate landscape in Zoute has undergone a huge transformation in a short period of time,” analyses Gregory De Bisscop, “We are now in a ‘seller’s market’; the supply is shrinking, some buyers are daring to make a decision on the day of their first visit, and many sales are being made to our client portfolio even before an ad goes online. We therefore expect that property prices could continue to rise, as the demand for both permanent and second homes in Knokke-Heist remains very strong.”
Over the years, new real estate agencies have opened in this buoyant market: Immo Brown, Pallen and others are also busy looking for and selling properties every day of the year.
The dream of villas in the Zwin and apartments with panoramic sea views
Knokke-Heist, the home port of architect Luc Declercq
As a Belgian design office, EL Architects builds residential and commercial buildings throughout Belgium. But it is in Knokke-Heist, where the architectures of the company’s founder, Luc Declercq, are among the best known. EL Architects and its team of 20 people have completed more than 100 buildings here to date. Each building displays an elegant and luxurious seaside architecture and is built with timeless traditional materials. Some have become iconic, such as the Finis Terrae building, which forms the end of the seafront promenade and offers a fantastic view over the Zwin and the sea to the Dutch border village of Cadzand.
“As the real estate market in Knokke has been peaking over the last ten years, with records last year, almost all construction projects are now sold off-plan at unprecedented prices,” explains Luc Declercq. However, another trend is the refurbishment of older homes,” he continues. The recent refurbishment of the famous Paquebot villa by Brussels architect Louis Herman De Koninck (1896-1984), built in the 1930s and reflecting a certain Knokke avant-garde that was trying to emerge amidst traditional and cottage-style villas, is one example of the Zoute’s trails and their inimitable atmosphere.
The personalised experiences of interior architecture and design firms such as Quality Properties and the customised services offered by high-end furniture brands such as RR Interieur also help to make the properties in Knokke look contemporary. New apartments also benefit from their expertise.
Zoute Green and One Carlton: two new flagship luxury residences
“Apart from the many new buildings that have sprung up between two buildings facing the ocean on the Zeedijk, it is the individual villas that are best suited to Zoute’s heritage. According to architect Luc Declercq, the Zoute Green residence (offered exclusively for sale by Immo Bis for delivery in 2022), or the one called Zwinduinen, built with white brick facades and red tile roofs, fit perfectly into the scale of the Zoute. “Their large openings and semi-covered terraces offer a contemporary quality of living where the emphasis is on the spaces within the home.” Zoute Green is a project developed by builder dvlp. A company led by Axel De Bisscop, in charge of new programs at Immo Bis.
“But the biggest challenge in recent years at Zoute is undoubtedly the luxury residential building One Carlton.” Located on the corner of Zeedijk and Albertplein, renamed M’as-tu vu Square, this sophisticated 12-storey building designed by EL Architects with Jaspers-Eyers Architects (John Eyers and Jean-Michel Jaspers), and developers Versluys Groep and Ghelamco, who are responsible for monitoring the construction, is the most beautiful ‘fish’ in Knokke-Heist. 2021 marks the end of its construction. The building is the new landmark of the Zoute. A true monument of today’s luxury architecture, visible from the centre of Knokke to the Golf course. A new landmark.