House prices fell by 4% in 2011

House prices fell by an average of 4% last year, the Dutch estate agents organisation NVM said on Thursday.

In total, 118,000 properties changed hands, a drop of 7% on 2010. The drop in sales in the fourth quarter was 13%, compared with the same period in 2010, the NVM said.
The organization expects prices to drop by a further 5% this year.
Tax cut
The government’s decision to cut the tax paid on property transactions from 6% to 2% of the value has not boosted the housing market as hoped, property experts told the Telegraaf.
Estate agents had hoped the tax cut would boost the number of properties changing hands by 10% but that is far from being reached, the paper says.
The cut has shaved thousands of euros off the cost of buying a house but has failed to convince people to take the plunge.
Banks have also brought in tougher rules on mortgages, reducing the amount of money people can borrow. In addition, only half the loan home owners borrow may be in the form of an interest-only repayment mortgage.
Estate agents
Meanwhile, the NVM says in the Financieele Dagblad that the housing market crisis has not led to fewer people taking up the profession.
On Monday, 14 new estate agents were sworn in, in line with developments in recent months, chairman Ger Hukker told the paper.
Nevertheless, many established companies are on the verge of bankruptcy, the paper says. Many carry out 20 or fewer transactions a year which generates an income of between €1,500 and €2,000 a month, Hukker told the paper.
In 2006, estate agents sold some 210,000 homes but last year the total almost halved to 121,000. The NVM has some 3,500 members, rival organisation VBO 1,011 and the smaller VastgoedPRO 797, the FD said.