Thursday 20 January 2022

Home work: the practicalities of buying a house in the Netherlands

Photo: Depositphotos

You’ve found your dream house, or you are looking for one. But what is the exact process for taking out a mortgage in the Netherlands?

The first step, actually before you even start looking, is to properly understand the Dutch house financing system, says Michael Smits, mortgage adviser for expats at ABN AMRO.

For a start, you must intend to live in the Netherlands within the next six months to buy a house here with major lenders. However, it is possible to apply from abroad if you are registered in the Dutch system and have, for instance, a bank account.

‘Expats need a residency permit or to be from the European Union, while we can also finance mortgages for British people with residency based on the withdrawal agreement,’ says Smits.

You also need to think about your income. If you have a permanent job, this is easy, but with a temporary contract you can still secure a mortgage with a ‘letter of intention’ from your employer saying the firm intends to extend your contract.

Otherwise (and this also applies to freelancers), banks can base a mortgage on the average of your past three years of income – and there are calculators online to see what you can borrow.

Things to think about

  • Be aware of the legal implications of making an offer. In the Netherlands you’ll typically sign a sale contract (with a three working day cooling-off period)
  • Most experts recommend including a financial clause which means that if for some reason you cannot raise the mortgage, you won’t have to pay a fine of 10% of the agreed amount.
  • Typically, you have six weeks to raise the mortgage, but it’s a good idea to know what documentation you will need in advance and have it all ready.
  • There are limits on what Dutch banks can lend (100% of the mortgage value), but you might be able to borrow more if you intend to do renovations to boost the property’s sustainability.
  • If you are carrying out major renovations and an estate agent says this would add to the value of the property, you may be able to borrow this amount too.
  • Unlike some other countries, you do not have to get a structural survey to satisfy your Dutch mortgage lender. Instead, there is an official market valuation, by an independent agent
  • A survey means that you have a chance to pull out if there are large and unexpected costs ahead, or at least have an idea about how to budget for items such as fixing a roof.

‘It’s most important to orient yourself well in the beginning,’ stresses Smits. ‘People come from all sorts of different countries and it’s good to know what’s different in the Netherlands and the possibilities you have.’

More than 11,000 international workers have already taken out a mortgage with ABN AMRO which has a comprehensive English-language web guide, all documents available in English and a secure portal to carry out much of the process online.

Find out more here

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