A round-up of the latest housing news, brought to you by Expat Mortgages.
The housing market has been hardly out of the news this year, with the shortfall in houses, high demand, high prices and rising interest rates all hitting the headlines in one way or another. But not all is gloom and doom.
There is some good news for buyers
2022 may have been a challenging year for buyers and sellers but there is some good news out there, says Henk Jansen, founder of mortgage specialists Expat Mortgages.
‘In the first quarter of next year we will still have fewer transactions and fewer buyers, so sellers are going to need to be flexible about how much they expect to get for their property,’ says Henk. ‘So if you do want to buy, you will have less competition and can be more pushy about prices.’
One trend in particular which will help potential buyers is the return of the financing clause in preliminary contracts. This means that buyers will once again get several weeks to arrange a mortgage after making a bid – something which had disappeared at the height of the high-pressure market.
‘You always get three days to change your mind, but now buyers can make a conditional bid again, and that is the way it should be,’ Henk says.
Interest rates are still an issue
Interest rates have almost tripled this year to between 4.5% and 5% but have been going down slowly for the past month, albeit at a slower rate than bank base rates. Economists expect a further decline next year and Henk too expects rates to settle at between 3.5% and 4%.
‘If you look at interest rates over a 30 year period, then 3.5% to 4% is still a very good rate,’ says Henk. ‘It all depends on your point of reference.’ Many of Expat Mortgages’ clients, he points out, come from countries where 6% or even 10% is the norm.
‘If you are here for 1.5 or two more years, then don’t buy, even if renting is expensive,’ he says. ‘The flexibility of a rental is important. But if you are here for longer, then buying is a serious option. Prices won’t drop much in the near future because of the shortage of supply, and it is better to pay off your own mortgage rather than your landlord’s.’
How much can you borrow
You need to make an appointment with a mortgage specialist to find out your budget down to the last euro, but a mortgage calculator is a good first step. ‘Before you get emotionally involved with any big purchase, you should decide what your budget is,’ says Henk.
‘If you start looking on Funda for a property before you know what your rough budget is, then you face being very disappointed if you realise you can’t afford it. Or that you won’t have enough of your income left over for a visit to the cinema or to pay your electricity bill.’
Expat Mortgages has its own mortgage calculator in English which is updated to include the latest government regulations about how much people can borrow.
Once you have a rough idea of your budget, it is a good idea to attend an online webinar or seminar – Expat Mortgages organises them regularly – to find out more about how the market works.
‘And get a good estate agent to help you,’ he says. ‘Yes these things cost money but it will save you money in the long term if you have good professionals that you trust at your side.’
A growth area of work for Henk and the Expat Mortgages team are inter-company presentations, particularly now that competition for staff is heating up. Several firms with a large number of international employees already offer dedicated sessions as part of their secondary benefits.
‘It does not matter if you have 30 international employees or 500,’ says Henk. ‘Rents are high and companies which want to connect their employees to the Netherlands for a longer period of time are offering their staff perks like these. And we have a good laugh as well.’
If you would like to find out more about company presentations, feel free to get in touch with Henk.
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