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Housing update: Buying a home in the current market needs patience and preparation

A round-up of the latest housing tips, brought to you by Expat Mortgages.

House prices continue to rise and the number of houses coming up for sale is dwindling, making the Dutch housing market increasingly difficult. This issue of the Dutch Housing Update focuses on how to maximise your chances.

Buying a home in the current climate is both stressful and time consuming but that does not mean you won’t succeed, says Henk Jansen, of Expat Mortgages, who has been advising international workers on mortgages for 14 years.

‘You just have to be patient and properly prepared before you start, so you can seize on the right property when it comes your way,’ he says. ‘But be realistic. Everything that does come onto the market now is sold very quickly and above the market price.’

Here are Henk’s tips:

Be patient
Be prepared to visit dozens of properties and make 5, 7 or 8 offers before you actually manage to buy a new home. It will be stressful. And expect to pay 10% to 20% more than the asking price as well. It will probably take months, so take this into account in your planning.

Get your paperwork in order
That means gather together all the documents you will need to sign a deal – including sorting out a mortgage offer. To get a rough idea about how much you can borrow, use an online mortgage calculator.

If you have savings in a foreign bank account that you want to put into property in the Netherlands, you need to have the money vetted as legitimate by the Dutch authorities in advance. Ask your mortgage provider about this.

Employ a buying agent
You might think you can find and bid on a property yourself through and other websites, but a buying agent will give you the edge in the current market.

There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that an informal, grey market exists away from the internet. In any case, a buying agent will keep an eye open for you because they know the market well.

Sellers and selling agents also prefer to work with buying agents because they can talk directly about whether you have your mortgage sorted out and how serious you really are.

Work fast
If you see something you like, make an appointment to visit it straight away. Be flexible – don’t imagine you can set up a viewing for next week after your yoga lesson. A desirable property that comes on the market will have 15, 20 viewings organised before you know it and you may be told that you can join a waiting list if you don’t react immediately.

Recognise that the seller has the upper hand
If you do manage to have a bid accepted, you should also expect to have the seller pile on the pressure for a quick completion. That means, for example, they may not be prepared to give you a cooling off period, apart from the three days enshrined in law.  They will prefer it if you have the financing sorted out as well. After all, the seller has so many options, including cash buyers.

Remember the bigger picture
Given the very low interest rates and ridiculous rents for private housing, it still makes sense to buy a property in the Netherlands if you are going to be around for three or more years.

A €500,000 property will cost you around €500 a month in interest and €1,000 in paying back the loan – and that means you are building up equity, rather than your landlord.

Got more questions? You can question Henk directly online at one of Expat Mortgage’s online webinars.

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