By a Decree of 22 December 2023 (the "Decree"), Flanders has introduced a new digital real estate information platform, with the aim of speeding up, simplifying and improving the security of real estate transfers. 

In all three regions, the transfer of immovable property (understood in a broad sense to include long-term leases and the transfer of rights in rem in immovable property) requires that various pieces of information be (i) collected, (ii) verified and/or (iii) communicated to the potential buyer, sometimes by means of a legally required document. This concerns, in particular, information on the authenticity of ownership, the existence of any securities such as mortgages, planning information or the soil status with regard to pollution. In all three regions, requests for such information and documents have so far had to be submitted separately to each administration, proving to be a lengthy, time-consuming and cumbersome process. At the same time, all three regions have made some of this information available through publicly accessible online platforms, but only for informational purposes (as nothing displayed there is legally binding and cannot therefore be used in the context of a transfer). 

A single, centralised point of contact 

By contrast, with the real estate information platform introduced by the Decree, Flanders offers a single point of contact where all requests for information are centralised and can be made online, and where the information provided is authentic and can be used for a transfer. This not only makes the whole process more convenient, but should also drastically reduce the time it takes to obtain the necessary information for a transfer, with the platform's website reporting an average processing time of just 12 days. The (mandatory) services of the VIP will cost a maximum of €36.50 in addition to whatever amounts are due to the respective administrations providing information to the VIP. The Decree notably defines the functioning of the platform, the types of users who can access it, the purposes for which information can be requested, the cost of the various requests and the regime applicable to the personal data processed. Also worth noting is that the municipal tax previously paid to the municipalities as part of the requests will now be collected by the platform and then redistributed to the municipalities, thus further reducing the administrative burden on the municipalities. 

Next steps

The Decree will enter into force on 1 February 2024. For the time being, the platform has already been launched in a 'beta' version for notaries and real estate agents. Once the Decree comes into force, it will also be available to public authorities and citizens (for properties they own). Most importantly, once the Decree comes into force, all requests for information on property transfers will have to be made through the platform. 

The new digital platform should simplify real estate transactions in Flanders and reduce the bureaucratic onus on municipalities and other stakeholders. One goal of creating this platform is to streamline the process of real estate transactions and encourage increased investment in the real estate sector. Our dedicated team of legal experts are available to support with any of your questions and to advise on how to act strategically in light of today's market.

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