Press Release: Real estate market cools down at the coast after the post-COVID rush

Ghent, February 7th, 2023 - Apartments on the coast are no longer getting more expensive. In the last quarter of 2022, the average price of an apartment in coastal municipalities decreased by 0.67 percent, according to figures from real estate data platform Realo. The exception is Knokke-Heist, where apartment prices are still on the rise. However, even there, the market cooled off significantly at the end of last year.

West Flanders remains the cheapest province in Flanders to buy a house. Realo's data analysis shows that at the end of 2022, a house cost an average of 1,543 euros per square meter, nearly 300 euros less than the average for all of Flanders (1,829 euros per square meter).

Apartments are a different story. There, prices in coastal municipalities drive up the West Flemish average. The ten coastal municipalities account for about half of all apartments for sale in West Flanders (47 percent). On the coast, you pay an average of 3,360 euros per square meter for an apartment with an area of 95 square meters. Inland, that price per square meter is more than a thousand euros lower at 2,201 euros.

But it is noteworthy that apartments on the coast are no longer getting more expensive. In the last quarter of 2022, the price of an apartment on the coast even fell by 0.67 percent, while apartment prices in the West Flemish interior still rose by 0.36 percent. "The declining trend on the coast has surprised us a bit," says Fabrice Luyckx, data analyst at Realo. "COVID-19 and the lockdowns caused a rush for apartments on the coast, and prices skyrocketed. But that storm has calmed down quite quickly. Today, we see almost no difference in the price evolution of apartments on the coast compared to the rest of the province."

One exception: Knokke-Heist

Only Knokke-Heist bucks the trend. There, the average price of an apartment rose by almost 3 percent in the last quarter of last year. But even Knokke-Heist did not escape a sharp drop in prices at the end of the year. The increase during the last quarter is very limited compared to the 17 percent increase for all of 2022. For comparison: apartments in Ostend became on average 1 percent more expensive last year.

Kortrijk is the strongest riser on the West Flemish housing market

When we zoom in on the housing market in the city centers, Kortrijk stands out clearly. A house became 12 percent more expensive there in 2022. What's more striking is that even in the last quarter, when the cooling of the real estate market had already begun elsewhere in Flanders and West Flanders, house prices in Kortrijk still rose by 6 percent.

"Even with rising interest rates and high energy bills, there is a fight for every house", said Kevin Vandamme, managing director of real estate agency M Vastgoed in Kortrijk. "In recent years, there has been a significant investment in the city, for example, with the new swimming pool. Colleges such as HoWest or Vives also invest in Kortrijk and make the city attractive to young people. Together with the Benelux Park and AZ, they also create a lot of employment. Of course, easy accessibility also plays a role. From Kortrijk, you can quickly reach Ghent, Waregem, or Ypres." In 2022, you paid just under 1,600 euros per square meter for a 170 square meter house in Kortrijk, approximately the same as for a house in Ostend but still significantly less than in cities such as Bruges or Ghent.

The prices of apartments did not rise along with the houses in Kortrijk. In the last quarter, the average price even decreased by 1.76 percent. In the West-Flemish apartment market, the strong price increase in Roeselare stands out. They shot up by 12 percent last year (especially in the first part of the year). According to Vandamme, there is an oversupply of apartments in Kortrijk: "Especially the exclusive apartments with a square meter price between 4000 to 5000 euros, they will remain for sale for longer. In addition, there are also many apartments for sale that are struggling with the tightened energy requirements." However, like the houses in Kortrijk, it is mainly a catching-up movement, and the prices are still below the level of other city centers.

Read all about the price developments in West Flanders here.