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Maintaining an Efficient and Equitable Housing Market in Belgium

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  • Sanne Zwart

    (OECD)

Abstract

Housing conditions in Belgium are among the best in OECD countries according to the Better Life Index, as dwellings are of high quality and large, and housing costs are average. However, the steep increase in house prices since 2003 has put market access for first-time buyers under pressure. Housing affordability is also deteriorating for the poor, as demand for social housing has not been met while the private rental market has become expensive. As a result, access to housing is at risk of becoming less equitable if the young and poorer people are priced out. Affordability for poorer people could be improved by expanding the regional rental allowance schemes. In parallel, scaling down the disproportional support for homeownership would free up public resources and reduce the bias towards homeownership. Other challenges to the efficiency of the housing market are posed by the high level of greenhouse gas emissions due to the old age of the housing stock and the low residential mobility, which harms the labour market and contributes to congestion and air pollution. To maintain an efficient housing market, policies should aim at increasing building densities in residential areas. Tilting taxation from transaction to recurrent taxes would lower barriers for residential mobility and contribute to labour market flexibility. This Working Paper relates to the 2015 OECD Economic Survey of Belgium (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/economic-survey-belgium.htm) Préserver l'efficacité et l'équité sur le marché du logement en Belgique Selon l’Indicateur du vivre mieux, les conditions de logement en Belgique sont parmi les meilleures de la zone OCDE : les habitations sont grandes et de bonne qualité et les coûts de logement se situent dans la moyenne. Cependant, la forte hausse des prix de l’immobilier enregistrée depuis 2003 rend l’achat de plus en plus difficile pour les primo-accédants. La capacité financière d’accès au logement se dégrade également pour les pauvres, dans la mesure où l’offre de logements sociaux est insuffisante pour répondre à la demande et le marché locatif privé est devenu cher. Par conséquent l’accès au marché du logement pourrait devenir moins équitable si les jeunes et les pauvres en sont exclus à cause des prix. Il est possible d’améliorer l’accès des personnes pauvres au logement en développant les systèmes d’allocations de logement régionaux pour locataires. Parallèlement, la réduction du soutien à l’accession à la propriété, actuellement disproportionné, libérerait des ressources publiques et atténuerait le biais en faveur de la propriété de la résidence principale. L’efficacité du marché du logement est confrontée à d’autres défis : le niveau élevé des émissions de gaz à effet de serre, dû à l’ancienneté de l’habitat, et la faible mobilité résidentielle, qui pénalise le marché du travail et contribue à l’encombrement routier et à la pollution atmosphérique. Pour préserver l’efficacité du marché du logement, il faudrait accroître les densités de construction dans les zones résidentielles. Une réorientation de la fiscalité des taxes sur les transactions immobilières vers les impôts récurrents contribuerait à abaisser les obstacles à la mobilité résidentielle et à améliorer la flexibilité du marché du travail. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l’Étude économique de l’OCDE de la Belgique, 2015 (www.oecd.org/fr/eco/etudes/etude-economique-belgique.htm)

Suggested Citation

  • Sanne Zwart, 2015. "Maintaining an Efficient and Equitable Housing Market in Belgium," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1208, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1208-en
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1787/5js30ttdx36c-en
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    Keywords

    aide au logement; allocation logement; aménagement du territoire; Belgique; Belgium; efficacité énergétique résidentielle; fiscalité immobilière; housing market; housing policies; housing prices; housing subsidies; land use; marché du logement; marché immobilier; marchés hypothécaires; mortgage markets; politiques du logement; prix des logements; property taxation; rental allowances; rental market; residential energy efficiency;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets
    • R52 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Land Use and Other Regulations

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