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.

Expat Oriented Organisation

Visit the Expat Oriented Register. The registry is free and intended solely as a service to our expat community.

We do not charge any company for being on it and are not seeking agreements for compensation. What we do want is a good and reliable business guide that expats may use to safely find their way to freelancers and companies with suitable business ethics. In 2020 we will ask for a handling fee of € 70,00 ex VAT to list the company online.

See you at the next event!