Rabobank raises house price forecast, sees sales declining

Rabobank economists have revised upwards their forecast for house price rises in the Netherlands this year. The bank said earlier house prices would go up by an average 8% but say now the increase is likely to be 8.7% over 2018 as a whole. This is partly because buyers are offering more than the asking price for property. At the same time, the number of sales is going down. The high prices are damaging confidence in the economy and the lack of choice is also having an impact, economist Christian Lennartz said. ‘The lack of houses is one of the most important factors behind the problems in the housing market,’ he said, adding that the fewer permits for new homes have been issued in the past few months. Last year, 242,000 homes changed hands but the total is likely to be no higher than 225,000 this year, the bank said.  More >

Amsterdam holiday-let campaign 'working'

The battle by Amsterdam council against property owners illegally renting rooms to tourists appears to be paying off, city officials said on Wednesday. The number of closures of illegal hotels fell by 10% in the first half of the year, and this shows the crackdown 'appears to be paying off', the city said in a statement. In the first half of this year, officials handed out 71 fines to people who did not register the lets or who had illegally rented out their property. A further 77 fines were given to property owners who had illegally rented out their property to multiple occupants. The number of complaints made to the council hotline fell to 1,394 from 1,572 in the 2017 first half. ‘This decline is partly due to the fact that fewer buildings are being bought by investors hoping to cash in on illegal rentals to tourists,’  Laurens  Ivens, the alderman for housing, told the Telegraaf.  More >

'Housing is a right, not a commodity'

Amsterdam has signed up to a global declaration to the United Nations which states that 'housing must first and foremost be considered as a right, not a commodity' in order for cities to survive. The initiative, launched by Barcelona's outspoken mayor Ada Colau, says that segregation and real estate speculation are two of the issues which must be tackled to ensure cities meet the human rights needs of their inhabitants. To achieve this, local authorities need more powers and funding to better regulate the real estate market, improve public housing stock and develop 'urban planning schemes that combine adequate housing and quality neighbourhoods that are both inclusive and sustainable'. The declaration, signed by the cities of Paris, New York, Strasbourg, Montevideo and Madrid among others, was presented on Monday at a local government forum involving the United Nation's special rapporteur on adequate housing and the high commissioner for human rights. During the presentation, at which Amsterdam was not represented, the cities stressed the importance of not leaving the housing issue to market rules alone. Making money The city council said in a statement the most important message to the UN is that society in popular major cities is under threat. 'The right of residents to affordable housing is in danger because of speculation, investors and mass tourism, which is all about making as much profit as possible,' the statement said. Speaking to the Parool newspaper, Amsterdam's housing alderman Laurens Ivens said: 'We see that in all these cities, all sorts of groups want to make money from housing, which is less and less used to live in.' Ivens referred to recent figures from ING which suggest one in six houses in Amsterdam is bought up by investors. 'They are snapping up homes right in front of Amsterdammers,' he said. Other research, by the University of Amsterdam, suggests more than 10% of the homes in Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam, Groningen and Maastricht are owned by private investors.  More >

Offices become homes in Amsterdam

Record numbers of homes were created from vacant office space in the Amsterdam metropolitan region last year, the Telegraaf reported on Tuesday. Vacant office space in the area totalled 500,000 m2 last year, of which more than half has now been transformed into residential space. The amount of vacant office space in 2017 was at a record high: in 2016 the total was 333,000 m2, down from 348,000 m2 in 2015. The Amsterdam metropolitan region comprises 33 local authorities, the so-called Amsterdam transport region and the provinces of Noord-Holland and Flevoland. It encompasses the area between IJmuiden and Lelystad and from Purmerend to the Haarlemmermeer.  More >