Dutch house price drop third biggest in EU since crisis began

Spain and Ireland are the only two countries in Europe where house prices have fallen more sharply than in the Netherlands over the past four years, according to Dutch national statistics agency CBS.

After reaching a peak in 2008, Dutch and Spanish house prices have been going down every year, but in Europe as a whole, prices have stabilised, the CBS told news agency ANP. The drop in Spain is around 7% a year, in the Netherlands 4%.

New figures from European statistics office Eurostat on Thursday show house prices across the EU went down an average 2.5% in the third quarter of last year, compared with the year-earlier period.

The drop in the Netherlands was 8.7%, in Spain 15% and Ireland almost 10%. By contrast, house prices in Norway and Estonia rose nearly 8.5%.

Foreign banks

Meanwhile, housing minister Stef Blok told Elsevier magazine on Thursday he hoped more foreign banks would enter the Dutch mortgage market and beef up competition.

In the past they had been surprised by the fact people can borrow more than the value of their homes, and at the popularity of interest only mortgages.

Now changes have been made, Blok said he hoped this would encourage foreign banks to come to the Netherlands.

The competition authority NMa is currently investigating the Dutch mortgage market, which is dominated by the big four banks.

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