ABN AMRO's helpful do's and don't to get started in NL

If you’re moving to the Netherlands (or have just moved) there are a few things you need to do to get settled.

Finding a place to live is priority number one. First, you have to decide if you like to buy a home or if you want to rent for a while. If it’s clear you want to buy a place of your own, the first step is to get an idea of how much money you can borrow. ABN Amro has been helping expats to finance their homes for many years now and is a great company to help you find your way.

Let us introduce you to Bob &Jocelyn, both mortgage advisors at ABN AMRO BANK!

Introduce yourself! Who are you, and what industry do you work in?

Hi! We are Bob and Jocelyn and we both work as mortgage advisors for international clients within ABN AMRO. Our goal is to show your possibilities and explain the details of buying a house in the Netherlands, so do not hesitate to ask us anything regarding the mortgage process. As mortgage advisors, we help people to buy their homes and guide them through the process. We both started working in offices that specialized in service for expats. Our work is related to the daily banking side, advising in payment packages, loans, insurance and everything else that encompasses daily banking. To help our clients further and be of more service we both decided to take a dive into the mortgage world. We both grew towards mortgage advisor, joining a branch of the company with more than 25 years of experience in helping international clients buy houses.

Who are your clients?

We work with expats, non-residents, people from the Netherlands working abroad and everything in between. People who usually come to the Netherlands are completely new and need support and guidance to get in the right direction. These are the customers we focus on.

What kinds of service do you deliver yourselves and what expertise do you forward to your partners?

We are in charge of arranging your mortgage, from the first introduction to the last document, to help finance your future property and help you get your own home. Of course, we always help you with finding the right party’s to work with, helping you with all the Dutch documents as well as finding your way through the experience of buying a house and moving in.

What are your top 3 tips in working with expats to ensure they have a smooth transition from their last country of residence to the Netherlands?

Our tips!

  • Join an Expat Community. Here you can talk and learn with other people regarding their experiences with settling in the Netherlands, buying their first home and a lot more.
  • Try to get your bicycle, the most common means of transport in the Netherlands, and get accustomed to public transport. Public transport in the Netherlands can get you from the southern tip of Limburg to Texel in a few hours, and anywhere in between.
  • Get yourself an umbrella. The Netherlands are famous for its rains but as well for the unpredictable weather, the sun might shine in the afternoon, and an hour later you have a hailstorm. So the umbrella will be a necessary addition to your wardrobe, choose between our Delft-invented stormproof umbrella, the small foldable umbrella, or simply the standard option, choices are enough!

What are some do’s and don’ts for expat clients that you would/wouldn’t recommend in relation to your industry?

We will divide this question into do’s and don’ts


  • Talk with a mortgage advisor as your starting point in the mortgage process. There is a lot more possible than our clients usually expect when we talk to them for the first time. You can easily get a free consultation meeting to help discuss the process, costs, and different necessary party’s to make your offer more successful.
  • View houses! You can freely look around houses and make appointments to see if you like the houses. By going around you will get more accustomed to processes and terminology.


Don’t do all your homework on your own, come join us for a personal meeting! With a personal consultation, we could give you all the knowledge you need to start with confidence. The mortgage process in the Netherlands could be quite different in comparison to other countries, so please don’t assume you know what’s what beforehand. For example mortgages in the Netherlands, we don’t pre-approve mortgages!

  • Don’t be too hasty when looking for houses. Finding the place where you want to live can take some time. Check for yourself what the plan is, are you looking for something to stay in for 5 years, or are you looking for a forever home?

What are the benefits of working with you as opposed to another vendor in your industry?

ABN AMRO is the place where you can have and manage all your financial products to help you successfully settle in the Netherlands and get started. All the financial products and advice are offered in one place and easily accessible via Online Banking.

Working with ABN AMRO gives you access to a range of international client advisors with years of working experience. It also connects you to a bank that can help you with the whole landing package in the Netherlands. From insurance to payment systems, investment products but also car loans.

How can a potential client get in touch with you?

You can contact us directly at bob.servaas@nl.abnamro.com or jocelyn.muller@nl.abnamro.com or you can always go to our website and set up an appointment, even if you are not yet a customer of ABN AMRO.

It sounds like a good start to us!


Legal questions when purchasing a new home

Are you looking for your dream home? With a driven team of experts by your side, who easily know where to find each other if necessary, your housing dreams come true!

When you buy a house as a (foreign) buyer, it is wise to be assisted by a local real estate agent a.k.a. “Makelaar”. The real estate agent is familiar with the market, the state of the house and can guide the negotiation process. If necessary, a financial specialist can advise on applicable tax schemes for expats. The notary is also involved in the transfer, and often a mortgage advisor or a bank will be engaged for financing. If the deal is done and dusted you might need an interior designer or a PA to make a house a home.

Although not immediately noticeable, legal aspects also are involved when purchasing a house. Below are some frequently asked questions our office answered at the How To Buy A House Events.

What does the reflection period entail?

The law stipulates that the purchase agreement when buying a house must be entered into in writing by a natural person who is not acting in the performance of a profession or business. The agreement, or a copy thereof, must be made available to the buyer. The buyer has the right to dissolve the purchase for three days after this delivery by hand. The buyer does not have to state a reason for dissolving. If the buyer has made use of this right and a new agreement originates between the same parties with regard to the same property within six months, the right to dissolve will not arise again.

Does my employer have to provide me with an employer statement or a declaration of intent?

No, an employer is not obliged to provide these statements. In practice, employers often cooperate. However, it is advisable that employers carefully formulate the letter of intent from an employment law perspective.

Who is liable in case something appears to be wrong with the property after the purchase and delivery?

The seller has an obligation to disclose and the buyer has an obligation to investigate. In principle, the seller’s obligation to disclose takes precedence over the buyer’s obligation to investigate. However, under certain circumstances, the buyer may need to obtain further information, for example on the basis of communications from the seller. Should it subsequently become apparent that there is a hidden defect, it will have to be established whether there has been a violation of the obligation to disclose by the seller, or whether the buyer has neglected his obligation to investigate. In the first case, the buyer could, under certain circumstances, cancel the purchase or receive compensation. However, should it become clear that the buyer should have carried out (additional) research, he may not have any claim against the seller. Obviously, it is also important what parties have agreed in the purchase agreement; for example, has the seller guaranteed certain matters.

Can I dissolve the purchase agreement in case my bank does not provide the requested financing?

A financing reservation is a condition precedent in the purchase agreement and means that the buyer can dissolve the purchase agreement if he is unable to obtain the necessary financing (in time). However, an active attitude is required from the buyer with regard to obtaining the relevant financing. The buyer will therefore only be able to invoke this condition precedent successfully if he can demonstrate sufficiently documented that his financing application(s) have been rejected.

Next live event

Our next event is scheduled on November 9th 2022 in the beautiful Vondelkerk in Amsterdam. We’ve invited companies who can answer all of your personal questions if you are looking to buy a home. Keep an eye on our website or send us an email if you are in need of information.

See you soon!


Managing Expectations in the Amsterdam Property Market

When it comes to purchasing your property in the Netherlands, there is a lot you need to be aware of prior to landing your dream home. All is not always as it seems, and there are many pitfalls to be cautious of along the way! Luckily, a good real estate agent can help you to navigate this unfamiliar territory.

First thing’s first - what do you mean by ‘managing expectations’?

In this unusual market, it can be hard to know what kind of property is right for you, as well as what is attainable. A knowledgeable real estate agent will be able to guide you through properties you’re interested in in order to ensure your needs are met personally, financially and holistically - whatever they may be.

An important thing to remember is that although purchasing a property can be a very exciting milestone in your life, it is paramount that you are realistic about the outcome. It is possible that you may be disappointed during the journey to find your home, so try not to get too attached to an idea before it’s a reality.

What is bidding, and how can it affect the purchase process?

A 'bid' means that you're showing interest in purchasing a house - it's more like a gesture, or even a proposal. It is one of the elements of buying a property that needs to be managed with the utmost diligence, mainly because of the uncertainty of the result when the seller opts for a ‘closed bid.’ A closed bid may occur when multiple parties are interested in the property, so the seller decides to give them all the option to submit their best price blind within a limited time frame.

I’ve heard that the value of the property does not always match that presented online… is this true?

A part of managing expectations is that the prices you see first-day do not always align with the actual purchase price. Buying a home is the biggest investment most people will make in their lifetime. Unless you have unlimited funding, you need to be realistic about what it is you can afford because chances are, the price will be higher than what was advertised.

In the Netherlands, the purchase price can vary greatly from what you originally see online. Your real estate agent will guide you through the effects that the valuation process will impact on the property you are interested in.

Making Changes Within the Canal Ring

Something else to consider when buying property in Amsterdam is that if you are hoping to buy within the canal ring, it is a protected area. Since being added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2010, you need to be aware of some restrictions placed on the buildings should you want to make any changes to your home.

The majority of the time, it is not possible to make any changes at all, and if it is, a permit must be approved prior to the alterations. For example, if you’d like to add a rooftop terrace, balcony, or make any changes to a building, you must have a permit known as an integrated environmental permit (omgevingsvergunning).

This permit is often required before you can make changes to the outside of the building, too. Handling these unique challenges can be tricky, however Barry will be able to guide you every step of the way so you can make a confident and informed decision when it comes to purchasing your home. Even if you have permission to make alterations, it is good to consider that this will be costly, which brings to mind the phrase, ‘caveat emptor’ - let the buyer beware!

I’m ready to know more! Where can I find a good real estate agent?

Barry Burgemeester is a Dutch native. Originally hailing from Utrecht, he has worked for over 23 years in real estate in the Amsterdam and his extensive knowledge of the area is uncontested.

Barry’s background and expertise is invaluable to our expat clients, mainly because his wealth of experience within the Dutch market guarantees that he will be able to predict any potential issues or concerns you may have when introduced to this unfamiliar territory. Get in touch at info@burgemeestervastgoed.nl today!

Interview | René van der Velde, Financial Advisor

Monique Burgemeester has worked with a lot of associates in the real estate industry over the years, including René van der Velde. René is an experienced financial advisor with a demonstrated history of working in financial services. Two years ago he started together with Rob Wouters his own company (Wouters & Van der Velde). Preceded by his fantastic reputation, René is knowledgeable in an abundance of topics such as Mortgage and Financial Planning.

Recently, we decided to catch up with René to get his insights on the latest updates to this year’s transfer tax and how it may affect anyone looking to buy a house in the Netherlands.

What was the old situation regarding transfer tax?
You have to pay 2% transfer tax over the purchase price. This year, it has changed and is now subject to the purpose of the property; this is to ensure the system is more attractive for first-time buyers.

What changed for first-time homebuyers from January 1st, 2021?
At the moment, those under 35, do not have to pay transfer tax at all. When you buy a buy-to-let house, you have to pay 8% transfer tax.

What will be the situation if you’re going to buy together and only one of us is younger than 35?
If you buy the property 50/50, you have to split the transfer tax into 0% and 2%. So, in fact you have to pay 1% transfer tax over the purchase price.

What will change on April 1st, 2021?
Yes, changes have been made to the exemptions heading into 2021. There will be a max purchase price of €400,000, and if you buy the property after 1st April you will have to pay the 2% transfer tax, regardless of your age.

If you want to sell your house after a certain period and you are lucky to make a profit, what taxes do you need to pay?
You don’t have to pay capital gain tax if you are selling your property

What will change for UK citizens who want to buy a property because of Brexit?
If someone from the UK would like to buy property in Holland, they must apply for a resident’s permit in 2021 - EU citizens have automatic access to this.

Looking to get in touch with René to discuss your own situation in buying a property? Contact rene@woutersenvandervelde.nl.

Transfer tax 2021?

The 2de kamer (House of Representatives) passed a bill that will significantly change the transfer tax model on 1 January 2020. Compared to now, some home buyers will benefit while others will have to pay more next year in terms of transfer tax. The transfer tax is calculated on the purchase price that you pay; the civil-law notary calculates this for you and takes care of the settlement with the tax authorities.

If you plan to buy or sell a house or it concerns other real estate, then it is good to find out whether you still need to take action in 2020. The 1st kamer (Senate) still has to debate and vote on the bill.

The changes


Home buyers between the ages of 18 and 35 are considered first-time buyers. They do not have to pay transfer tax if they buy a house with a purchase price of  € 400.000,--  or less. If the purchase price is higher than that amount, they pay 2% transfer tax on the entire purchase price. You can use this starter exemption only once.

There is a so-called transitional arrangement that means that if you become the owner of a house before April 1, 2021, it does not matter what the purchase price is. In other words: you can also invoke your starter exemption for a more expensive home than 400,000 euros.

Not a starter? 

Only if you are going to live in a house yourself, you pay 2% transfer tax. For a second home, a piece of land, a business building or an office villa you pay 8% of the purchase price. This also applies to shares in a so-called real estate BV.

New and old?

  • home for starters (ages 18 to 35 years, purchase price of the house max € 400.000,-- ); now: 2% -> new: 0%
  • not a starter: Own home where you live in yourself; now: 2% -> new: 2%
  • home you don’t live in yourself, a second home, home you buy for your child(ren), home to rent out; now: 2% -> new: 8%
  • office building that used to be a home; now: 2% -> new: 8%
  • plot of land, commercial property, retail property, other real estate now; 6% ->new: 8%
  • shares in a real estate BV; now: 2% or 6% -> new: 8%

Keep in mind that in the above not all changes are included and also that there is still a lot unclear so you need definitely more info to decide what’s best concerning transfer tax. We will keep you posted!

Planning for a stress-free move to the Netherlands

The prospect of moving abroad and starting a new life in the Netherlands should be an exciting one. But for many, this excitement is tempered by feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. There may be a million questions flying through your head: Are we making the right decision? _ What if the children don't enjoy school? What if we get homesick? Will we survive the Dutch winters? Or, worst of all, "I don't know how to cycle."

We spoke to Elizette Nel, of Expat Relocation & Immigration Services , to discuss the emotional ups and downs of relocating to a new country. As an educational psychologist and expat herself Elizette has a thorough understanding of both the practical and emotional strains that moving abroad can take - particularly for those with children. 

In this blog post we cover Elizette's five areas to consider to manage stress when moving abroad. 


1) Clarify your expectations

There are a multitude of reasons for moving to the Netherlands, as Elizette explains: “It could be a decision based on career, such as a new job or a promotion. Perhaps you want better opportunities for your children. Some people do it for love while others are looking to leave behind environments affected by violence and crime.

With all these different motivations, Elizette firmly believes that one should be honest with yourself and clarify your reason or reasons for taking such a bold step. When things become difficult, it is important to hold on to your personal motivations to carry you through. Also think about your expectations of the move. Are they realistic, or one-sided? Always try to find a balance between the positives and the negatives. 

You further need to clarify how long are you expecting to stay. Are you seeing the Netherlands as a permanent home? Or just for a couple of years? Some people want to sell everything and make a clean start, while others want to know that they can always go back if things don't work out and this actually helps them to take risks and adapt. 

“Every move is different, and every person’s motivations are different. You can never compare your move or decisions to anyone else's. You need to choose what’s right for you, and other people can never criticize the decisions you make. That’s why asking yourself these personal questions about your motivations and expectations is such an important  first step in your relocation journey.


2) Practical planning

There are numerous practical elements to moving abroad - and this can be quite intimidating. “Some people like lists, and others want to just go with the flow. But in a situation like this, a complex situation, it’s important that you spend time sitting down and deciding what needs to be done, and when.”

“There’s a real satisfaction from having a list of worries, and ticking them off. It helps to give you a sense of control during what can be a very scary and uncertain process.”

As Elizette points out, there are many elements you can take control of. Contacting the relocation company, speaking to the school, planning your furniture, etc. Elizette believes that it’s important to give yourself as much time as possible to prepare. But there is also one area that is commonly overlooked. 

“The process of saying goodbye is often forgotten. You need to find closure with a chapter of your life. It’s important you spend time arranging events or calls with your friends and family. Furthermore, if you have children, you need to give them this same privilege. Give them the option of a party with their friends, or something more 1:1 - give them control in how they say goodbye.”


3) Moving with children

“Children in these situations can have a challenging time. They often lack control and transparency. But children, no matter what age, can detect stress and it can have a profound impact. Perhaps they see people crying, or items being packed. What’s more, children have the capacity to imagine a much worse outcome then is reality.”

Elizette believes that parents must consider how and when they are going to tell their children. “I think it’s unfair to ask children to keep a secret such as this from friends and family - this can create a tremendous pressure on them. They, like all of us, have a need to discuss the situation with others and start coming to terms with change. So try to tell them at a time when you have also informed those around you.”

Just like the task list mentioned above, similar approaches can be given to help children feel more in control of their future. “For smaller children, who often don’t have a very good concept of time, having a calendar that they can tick off is an excellent way to give them a better understanding of the approaching move.”

“For others, it could be setting dates to sort out their bedroom, involving them with packing and giving them the ability to choose  their favorite items they want to bring. It could also involve giving them ownership of decisions such as: who can have the toys and books I cannot take with? 

For older children, they can be more closely involved in logistics. “Involve them in the research for what school they will be going to, and how the Dutch school system differs from the one they are currently following.”

“Ultimately, it’s about finding a balance. Don’t pretend that it’s going to be a walk in the park, but give them things to look forward to - whether it’s cycling to school, not wearing school uniform, learning a new language or seeing snow for the first time. ”


4) Find the right home

When searching for a home Elizette says the most important thing to consider is your family’s lifestyle. “Do you enjoy walks in the park? Or going to the beach? These are all factors that need to be considered. While some people love the vibe and liveliness of the  city, others need more freedom and large spaces.”

“Commuting is also an important element to consider. If you’re moving from London, then the prospect of a two hour commute seems fairly normal. But in the Netherlands, there is no need for this.. You’ve got the opportunity to reduce your commute drastically, and less time commuting means more time for things that add value to your life. 

Elizette acknowledges that finding a property while still overseas is extremely difficult, but definitely not impossible.  If you decided to rent first  working with a rental broker means you can secure a property, in an area you desire, before you arrive. Not being under pressure to look for a house while settling into a new job and finding your feet in a new country is priceless. For those looking to buy it’s best to be there in-person. 

“One final warning, regarding temporary accommodation. Most local town halls don’t allow you to register using a temporary  address. As such you won’t be able to obtain a BSN number, bank account or many other elements that you would ideally have as soon as possible.” 


5) Don’t be afraid to ask for help

“Relocating to a new country is a huge task, but the good news is that there's lots of support available for those who are happy to ask for it. Social media forums like Facebook can be very supportive and informative. And people are generally very generous with their advice and offers for help. Often, friendships are forged even before you arrive in the Netherlands.

However, Elizette does have a word of caution: “Each person's situation is different, and the advice is often based on people's own experiences. Be sure to apply a critical eye on their advice and only use what is valid to you. ”

“Some people feel in control if they can manage their relocation themselves, but they need advice or support with a few specific tasks. Others want someone to take the pressure and stress out of their hands and manage the relocation on their behalf. Services such as Expat Relocation & Immigration Services can offer valuable assistance and support. . I can step in, provide support, and help you stay on track. In my view, if you're going to work with a relocation consultant, it's important that they not only offer practical support, but also understand your emotional needs and offer just the right mix of information, support, reassurance and assistance. 


Expat Relocations is a member of our Expat Orientated Organization certification, meaning that they have proved themselves as a business capable and ready to assist expats and their needs. 


Monique Burgemeester’s Useful Mission

That sounds like a great title for a book, but this is definitely not a work of fiction. Monique Burgemeester is a real Amsterdammmer through and through. She has seen the city change over the years and knows Amsterdam as well as anybody could. She has worked in the property market for many years. Having seen the growing numbers of expats looking to lay down roots in Amsterdam, she created the ‘How To Buy A House’ information events. These events are above all very useful for expats. If you have a project to buy a home, you need to attend this. At HTBAH, you can meet all the experts you need to talk with under one roof. One evening to be better informed about the whole process. Being better informed is essential to successfully get what you want and avoiding any potential pitfalls.

You will meet professionals in many different domains: real estate experts, mortgage advisers, notaries, interior designers, tax experts, property managers, builders, etc. Each event has different experts, so please consult the site to see which ones attend the event you attend. You can discuss with them your specific situation and plans. The experts will inform and give guidance on issues that you need to know or consider. That is useful and being useful is Monique’s mission.

The HTBAH event is very popular as attendees spread the word to their friends and colleagues. At the events, drinks and delicious snacks are provided so that attendees can relax and enjoy the event. This is a free event and all you need to do is register your place and attend.

So Monique Burgemeester’s Useful Mission is to help expats. We asked Monique a few questions to get more insights into her events and she provided the answers here :

 How did you have the idea to create the HTBAH?

As you know we have been in real estate for over 23 years and the last 18 years, we work almost exclusively with expats. We have been asked as a guest speaker at seminars and events, but we always felt there was something missing on a personal level. It is good to hear all the basics, but maybe you have different questions that are important for you. You can not ask them in a 15 mins Q&A after the seminar ends. Everyone wants his or her minute, so we saw that a lot of people left with good knowledge about the principles, but that is it. Most of that stuff you can find on the internet, right? If you register with us, we will provide you with a movie that contains the basic info you need to know about buying a house in Amsterdam. Then during the HTBAH event we can get into the specific details of your needs.

 What makes the HTBAH event special?

Well, we decided to make an open format event where you can have one on one talks with all experts present. Everyone is there to help you find your dream house, but also to help you with what comes with it. A renovation for example. Or a company you can hire to take care of all stuff you need when you become an owner: changing locks, cleaning, make all your utilities work etc. It is a 3-hour event, so take your time and talk with everyone present. It might be busy at times, but we provide free drinks and bites, so take it easy, stroll around ask the experts answer to all questions you might have within a reasonable time. If you really want to go deep, you can make an appointment with the expert you like and have a good chat on another date.

What kind of people attend these events?

All sorts of people. People interested in buying in the future, families who are already in the process but needs some more information. Attendees are sometimes young, sometimes aged, everyone is welcome!

Having done so many HTBAH events, what are the mains benefits for the attendees?

You meet all the experts you need in one place without being lost. My staff is amazing, they all speak multiple languages and are here to help. If you do not know what to ask, we will help you and provide you with questions to start a conversation with all experts presents. It still dazzles me that, even when it is very busy and people have to wait, the vibe stays relaxed and stress-free. I am so proud of my staff. It is a small scale event in a beautiful location. 

 Do you have any feedback stories from the people that attend your events?

They tell us that they love the format. That is something we love to hear. We have done many of these events to date and we always work hard to make it enjoyable. Yes, they surely find it useful, that is the central aim, but being useful in an agreeable atmosphere is also very important to us and the attendees. 

So there you have it. Monique Burgemeester’s Useful Mission is really useful for your homeownership plans. More information about the events is here and the next one is on November 18th 2020 in the Vondelkerk in central Amsterdam. If you have a project, you need to attend this event!

Registration will open soon.

Is it a good time to buy a house?

Good time to buy a house? We have heard this question and others over and over again, so we've made an overview of frequently asked questions and has asked an expat-expert to answer all! We kick off with Barry Burgemeester of Burgemeester Vastgoed.

Everyone can become a real estate agent. There is no diploma or certificate required to get started in this line of work. However, Barry has the proper certification and has been in the business for 23 years. The past 17 years he specialized in assisting expats with buying homes and commercial real estate. There's a lot of misinformation out there about what real estate agents actually do, so he'd published recently an article "A typical day in the life of an Amsterdam Real Estate Agent". Let's see if is it a good time to buy a house!

Aren’t we in a property bubble in Amsterdam? Shouldn’t I just wait? 

The only answer to this is that unless you’re planning to speculate on the Dutch property market and sell your home within say 6 to 8 months, then it’s always worth buying. With tax rebates and low-interest rates, you’ll usually end up paying less money on a mortgage than you do rent. It’s always a good time to buy and I’m here to help you find the right place in Amsterdam that meets your needs.

What is the real challenge in the process of buying a house?

In this market, the search for just the right home is important, and we can help you with that. Once a client has set his/her sights on a desirable house, then the real challenge starts the bidding process and the presentation of our client to the selling party. A real estate agent should advise his client on what is and is not possible. Where previously it was often about having the highest bid, now the buyer is also under scrutiny, because the selling party benefits from a customer who can also pay for the property. We can help you make the right bid, safely and freely, and within the possibilities, ensuring the highest chance of success.

So, what should I do first?

The first thing you need to know if you want to buy a house is how much money you can borrow. The market is so hot, that if you find a house you like, you must be ready to act straight away. Remember, you will need more than the actual price of the property. You can borrow up to 100% of the value of the property, so you will need your own cash – about 6% to 8% of the purchase price – to cover the bills for taxes, the estate agent and notary fees and other matters. There are a lot of different banks and institutions providing mortgages in the Netherlands so it makes sense to talk to a mortgage expert first.

My offer on a house has been accepted, what happens now?

Once your offer for a house has been accepted, you have to sign a contract. So you, your estate agent, the seller and their agent will meet at a notary’s office to sign the voorlopig koopcontract – the purchase and sale agreement. The notary is a type of lawyer, and the contract gives you three days to change your mind. The contract also includes a clause saying the transaction is ‘subject to financing’.That gives you a period of time to arrange your mortgage. This is usually four weeks. It might sound like a long time, but there is a lot of paperwork to go through. Once all that is done, you go to the notary again and sign the final deal.

We like to thank Barry very much for his clear answers and will be back next week with another expat expert answering questions! We invited Marielle Groen of Advocura to answer the questions you have asked about legal issues in The Netherlands.

Be sure and check out our Facebook community, How to Buy a House in the Netherlands. This group was specially created to provide support and assistance for homebuyers during every step of the process, from just thinking about buying a home to making the final offer.  Ask us all your questions via monique@howtobuya.house and we will get back to you!

Expat Oriented Organistion

Questions and answers | Real Estate

Our How to Buy a House event is not a seminar but is an open format event where real estate agents, mortgage advisors, notaries, builders, interior decorators, and other professionals are standing by to answer attendees’ questions one-on-one. For you, we collected some questions and answers we have had from our visitors about real estate.

*The outbreak of coronavirus is affecting everyone across the Netherlands and far beyond. We all have a role to play in preventing its spread. We postponed our next housing event until September 16th in Amsterdam. Any new information or developments are always incorporated into the advisory reports that RIVM provides to the Cabinet, so our government leaders can decide whether to ease current restrictions or implement stricter measures. Of course, we will follow all rules and regulations and also use our own common sense to keep everyone safe. We will keep you posted via our social media channels and website*

I want to buy a house, what should I do first?

The first thing you need to know if you want to buy a house is how much money you can borrow. The market is so hot, that if you find a house you like, you must be ready to act straight away. Remember, you will need more than the actual price of the property. You can borrow up to 100% of the value of the property, so you will need your own cash – about 6% to 8% of the purchase price – to cover the bills for taxes, the estate agent and notary fees and other matters.

Do I need to team up with a real estate agent to get a house?

No that is not mandatory, however, we strongly advise you to do so. Finding a house is one thing, actually signing the contract is another. If you have found a house you like, make sure you have a real estate agent with you to carry out the negotiations with the seller. An expert will make sure your offer is based on the market value of the property, not the asking price. An expert will also look into other tricky subjects, like making sure the homeowners’ association – if you are buying an apartment - is healthy and making sure there are no hidden problems with the property. Your estate agent is there to help you and make sure your requirements are met.

Do you need to have a diploma to be called a real estate agent?

Everyone can become a real estate agent. There is no diploma or certificate required to get started in this line of work. You can decide to be an estate agent overnight.

Is an agent who is not a member of a real estate trade body trustworthy?

In the Netherlands membership of a real estate trade body is entirely optional, so not all good agents want to be a member of a trade body. That does not mean they are not qualified to help you find your house. Don't choose a real estate agent just based on the fact that they belong to an association.

We do think it is good to ask for a real estate diploma/certification, so you know the basic knowledge is there. Also, take a good look at reviews, ask for contracts translations in English, terms and conditions in English, see if there are no woolly clauses and most important; finding a house is a team effort, so your agent and you must team up. If it doesn't feel good then get out of the team.

What's the catch about bidding? Shall I just make an overbid on a feeling?

No. A real estate agent should advise his client on what is and is not possible. Where previously it was often about having the highest bid, now the buyer is also under scrutiny, because the selling party benefits from a customer who can also pay for the property. A great agent can help you make the right bid, safely and freely, and within the possibilities, ensuring the highest chance of success.

What happens if my offer is accepted, am I safe then?

Once your offer for a house has been accepted, you have to sign a contract. So you, your estate agent, the seller and their agent will meet at a notary’s office to sign the purchase and sales agreement, in Dutch; "voorlopig koopcontract". Until this event happens it is only a gentlemen's agreement.

Is it possible to determine the "voorlopig koopcontract" if I change my mind?

The contract gives you three days cooling off period to change your mind, so you can terminate the contract without any questions during these 3 days. Without being too Dutch and blunt; it is, however, better to have a good think about the property before signing the contract. All parties need to do a lot of work before signing the contract, so if you are not sure about buying a house, then don't. The contract also includes a clause saying the transaction is ‘subject to financing’.That gives you a period of time to arrange your mortgage.

Why do I need a notary?

The notary is a type of lawyer who specialises in civil contracts. You will visit the notary to sign the "Voorlopig koopcontract". In some cities that part can also be done at the seller's office, but in Amsterdam, you need to visit the notary to do so. Dutch law states that signing over the house in your name must be done by a notary. So you will have to visit the notary multiple times, also to sign the "akte van levering" – the deed of transfer and (if you need a loan) the mortgage papers. If you do not speak Dutch, a sworn translator will also be needed. Once the "akte van levering" has been signed, you will get the keys and your dream home will be yours. The notary will register the property in your name at the land register.

What is the difference between "erfpacht", which means leasehold and "eigen grond" or freehold properties?

Amsterdam homes often have erfpacht – which means you buy the bricks but you rent the land your home is built on, usually from the city council. It is quite common and nothing to be afraid of. If you buy a home with erfpacht, the information about the house will tell you that the erfpacht – the leasehold – often have been paid until a certain date. When that period ends, you will have to pay for a new contract. The bill is based on the value of the land at the time. Make sure to have a good chat about leasehold with your real estate agent to understand what the new regulations are and to understand the concept.

"Do not wait to buy real estate, buy real estate and wait"

Is this the right time to buy a house, aren't we in a property bubble?

The only answer to this is that unless you’re planning to speculate on the Dutch property market and sell your home within say 6 to 8 months, then it’s always worth buying.

Be sure and check out our Facebook community and be a member of How to buy a House in the Netherlands. This group was specially created to provide support and assistance for home buyers during every step of the process, from just thinking about buying a home to making the final offer. Ask questions online or via email and get your answers.

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