Buying, Renting & Selling Property in The Netherlands - an Expat View

Published: 25 Apr at 11 AM
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Filed: Buying Property,Netherlands

Local Expert Series: Housing situation in the Netherlands by Olga Mecking

Buying a house in the Netherlands is no easy feat. of course, buying a house is always a big decision, no matter where you live. We have found this out the hard way when we first started looking for properties to buy.

We run into several problems on our way and in this article, I’d like to share them so that you’d know what to look out for.

While many problems are of a more general nature, others can only be found in the Netherlands.
  1. Lack of Space

    First of all, the Netherlands are a small country but the population is dense. Space is limited, houses are narrow. There may be very steep stairways, leading to your door, then even more stairways to get into your apartment and then stairs in the apartment itself-many houses have 3-4 floors. We took this into consideration when looking for houses. We have even managed to find an apartment that was all on one level. However, it narrowed down our search criteria and finding an apartment that fit our needs was hard.

  2. Renting vs. buying

    Buying Property in The Netherlands
    Buying Property in The Netherlands
    We really wanted to rent an apartment rather than buy one. We considered buying a house too expensive and too much of a hassle. However, the renting market is pretty much non-existent in the Netherlands. While it works well for single people, students and small families, renting a house that would be suitable for a family of 4 is just not done. The apartment we rented was not in good quality and we were looking forward to moving out of there. We then found a house that we bought a year ago, and couldn’t have been happier.

  3. Real estate agents and house prices

    Dutch real estate agents negotiate hard. They may twist the truth, avoid giving out some information, and use all their tricks to sell the house. When we read through the rental contract of one apartment we were interested in, we saw that the agent wanted to have the right to increase the rent by up to 5 %. While we didn’t think he would actually do it, we didn’t want to rent an apartment only to find out we’d have to move again. Also, we had problems with getting things fixed when they got broken in the apartment we rented.

    The prices are ridiculously high in comparison to elsewhere, but they have luckily gone down in the last year. It never occurred to us that houses could be so expensive, and so it came to us as a shock when we found ourselves looking at prices much above of what we were willing to spend. We moved to a city where houses were cheaper, but we were still connected to The Hague and Delft where I have friends. The new location also had the benefit of being closer to my husband’s workplace. Sometimes it helps to look a few streets away from your dream location, and the price may be lower.

    We have managed to solve both of these problems (the price and the bold real estate agents) by contacting and becoming members of Stichting Eigenhuis, a consumer organisation for homeowners. They send over a specialist to view the house in order to gauge the prize range and then send over a technician who checked whether everything was working well in the house. Both of these viewings were very detailed and played a big part in the negotiations- in our favour.
    As for the mortgage, while there are many options for expat to get a credit for buying a house, there are other ways. With the help of your family, you may be able to get better conditions in your own country- we have made a deal with a German bank and pay our mortgage there.

  4. Selling

    Selling a house is even harder than buying one. Prices are going down fast, but with the current state of economy, there are not many people interested in buying. It is then a good idea to be flexible with your prices. However, while you may have to go down with your price considerably, you can still set a limit you would not go below.

    With selling (as with buying) you may consider hiring a real estate agent (a makelaar) to do the negotiations for you. A good idea is to put your house on the market, but at the same time try to talk to other expat who are interested in buying a house. You know your house will go into good hands, and you will help a friend in need!

    If you’re not able to sell your house, you can consider renting it out, or still use it if you think of going back often.

Links: - the biggest database of houses to rent and for sale, Holland-wide. - another database of houses to rent and for sale - Stichting Eigenhuis, a consumer organisation for homeowners. - an expat organisation with all advice and information on the housing situation.

About the author

Local ExpertOlga Meckingis a Polish woman living in the Netherlands with her German husband and their two trilingual girls. She blogs about being an expat, her life in the Netherlands, and raising multilingual children on her website "The European Mama". She also occasionally contributes to Nomad Parents, Amsterdam Mamas, InCulture Parent Magazine and a Polish parenting site, EgoDziecka. She has recently started giving trainings in intercultural communication. Olga greatly enjoys her life in the Netherlands and is very happy to be given the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people!

If you have anything to add about your own experience relating to this article, or perhaps have a question for Olga please leave her a comment below!
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