Understanding the nuances between a purchase agreement and a notarial deed in Belgium

The process of buying or selling a property is often accompanied by a whirlwind of paperwork, legal jargon, and multiple stages of documentation. In Belgium, two critical documents play a pivotal role in this process: the purchase agreement (commonly known as "compromis" or "promesse d’achat") and the notarial deed. While both documents are integral to the property transaction, understanding their nuances and ensuring consistency between them is paramount.

Gabrielle Henderson

The Significance of Each Document

At first glance, one might assume that a purchase agreement is merely a precursor to the more "official" notarial deed. However, this is a misconception. In the Belgian real estate landscape, both the purchase agreement and the notarial deed hold equal weight.

1. The Purchase Agreement

The purchase agreement is the initial formal document that outlines the terms and conditions agreed upon by both the buyer and the seller. It signifies the buyer’s intent to purchase the property and the seller’s intent to sell, given the conditions mentioned are met.

2. The Notarial Deed

Following the purchase agreement, the notarial deed is the official document that finalizes the property transaction. Drafted by a notary, it confirms the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer and ensures that all legal formalities are adhered to.

Why Consistency Matters

Discrepancies between the purchase agreement and the notarial deed can lead to potential legal complications. For instance:

1. Omitted Details

If specific details present in the purchase agreement are absent in the notarial deed, they are generally still considered valid unless the opposing party can prove their irrelevance. Similarly, any terms mentioned exclusively in the notarial deed but not in the purchase agreement are also binding.

2. Contradictory Terms

Challenges arise when the purchase agreement and the notarial deed contradict each other. In the absence of clarity on which document takes precedence, it can lead to uncertainties. Resolving such conflicts often requires diving deep into the intentions of both parties at the time of the agreement.

Ensuring a Smooth Transaction

To avoid potential disputes and ensure a seamless property transaction, consider the following steps:

1. Engage the Same Notary

It’s advisable to have the same notary draft both the purchase agreement and the notarial deed. This ensures consistency in terms and minimizes the chances of discrepancies.

2. Review the Drafts

Always take the time to thoroughly review the draft of the notarial deed sent to you. Ensure it aligns with the terms agreed upon in the purchase agreement.

3. Open Communication

Maintain open communication with all parties involved. If you have doubts or require clarifications, don’t hesitate to ask. Remember, it’s better to address concerns at the initial stages rather than face complications later on.


In the intricate world of real estate transactions, understanding the nuances of each document is crucial. While the purchase agreement sets the stage for the property transaction, the notarial deed seals the deal. Ensuring consistency between these documents is not just a matter of legal formality but a testament to the transparency and trust between the buyer and the seller.

As you navigate the Belgian real estate market, always prioritize clarity and consistency. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and enjoy a hassle-free property transaction.