Amsterdam Real Estate
The following is an article I commissioned on Amsterdam real
estate (in 2011), by a writer who lives there. He covers the
basics of what it takes to rent or to buy a house or apartment,
both for a local resident and for expats from the United States
or other countries.
Finding a place to live in Amsterdam can be a challenge. However,
with research and the right advice, you can find your perfect
home in a popular market. When searching for accommodation, there
are three possibilities: public housing, private rentals and
The real estate market in Amsterdam is a something that can't
easily be put into words. Most Dutch people have registered themselves
to receive public housing which means that they'll receive a
flat in the area of their choosing if they wait for it. Sounds
quite good so far, BUT the time they have to wait is easily around
10-20 years. After all that time they receive offers for rental
housing in the area they have selected for a price which is much
lower than the open sector housing. As an example if you'd like
to rent an apartment in Amsterdam you'd be looking at 1,100 dollars
monthly rent. That is the bottom criteria that is not easy to
find and for most people isn't big or comfortable enough. The
more spacious or better located housing starts at 1,650 dollars
per month. When you happen to be the patient and lucky person
who is entitled to receive public housing then the costs would
start around 350 dollars per month. So the change is dramatic.
If you're planning on staying in Amsterdam for three years
or more, then one option may be to buy a property. In this economic
climate, you'll find there's less competition as well as significant
tax incentives and long-term benefits of owning your own home.
The lowest price range starts from around 140,000 dollars. If
you're considering buying a house, it is advised to first meet
with a mortgage advisor at your bank or an agency. The choice
of property is either freehold (vrij leen) or leasehold (erfpacht).
You will not need a housing permit for an existing property but
you will need one for a new build if the purchase price threshold
is 224,674 dollars (correct from 1 January 2009; indexed annually).
There are many ways to go about house hunting:
* Estate agents (makelaars) - They will keep you informed
of suitable properties for sale, arrange viewings and offer practical
advice. Commission is usually 1 or 2% of the eventual purchase
price, plus VAT (BTW). Recommendations are always a good start.
Addresses can be found in the Gouden Gids (Yellow Pages).
* Adverts - Local papers usually carry a housing (woon) supplement
on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Also try special property papers.
* Online Estate agents regularly publish their stock
on the major property sites: Funda and MVA-Makelaars (both in
Dutch). If you've already working with a mortgage advisor, ask
if they can notify you of new properties (some get houses before
they even go on Funda).
* New builds If you're interested in a new build or
want to look at projects under construction, visit www.nieuwbouw.amsterdam.nl
(in Dutch only).
If you find something you like, be on the look out for:
* Costs For properties advertised as kosten te koper
(KK), you will be obliged to pay expenses for things like the
services of an estate agent, transfer costs etc. If a house is
advertised as vrij op naam, all costs are included in the price.
* Negotiation If you are in negotiations with a buyer,
the seller's estate agent is still allowed to show the house
to other parties. He is usually working on the side of the buyer,
so try and protect your interests using your own agent or a friend
who knows the system.
* Asking price - Base your price on the market value of the
property, not the asking price. Make sure your offer is made
with the proviso "subject to raising finance". The
written agreement is known as Presale Agreement/Contract of Sale
and must be drawn up by a lawyer and signed by buyer and vendor.
Youre allowed a 3-day cooling-off period for withdrawal.
Beyond that, you may risk a penalty of 10% of the asking price
if you pull out for lack of funds.
Arranging a Mortgage for Amsterdam Real Estate
Generally the cost of buying a home is around 8% of the purchase
price. Banks may lend up to five times your salary if you meet
the following conditions:
* You have a valid residence permit.
* You have lived in the Netherlands for five years.
* If self-employed, you can produce statements for the last
three years and show future potential earnings.
You'll find a wide variety of mortgages (hypotheek) on offer
but as an expat, its advisable to do your homework and
ask friends or family for recommendations to get the best deal.
When it comes to the actual purchase, you will have to provide
a property valuation report (taxatierapport), which is usually
arranged by a valuer (taxateur) for a fee. Note: the report is
not a survey.
To conclude the sale, both parties must sign a transfer contract
(akte van levering). Typically this will take place in Dutch,
therefore it is advised to ask for an interpreter in advance
if you feel you need one. Upon completion, the lawyer will inform
the Land Registry (Kadaster) and you should get your keys within
two to three months.
Steve's note: I like what I've read about Amsterdam,
and I am happy to learn a bit about the real estate possibilities
there, but I wish that cheap rent was available to expats as