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Buying a Property

The Netherlands (Holland) - Buying a Property

In such a densely populated country with a growing population, it is perhaps not surprising that there can be strong competition for good quality properties in appealing areas. However, there are no restrictions on expats buying a property, whether you are a resident or a non-resident.

Over the past few years, house prices in the Netherlands have risen steeply but they are still considerably lower in Amsterdam than they are in other major European cities. Although prices are now beginning to level off, they are doing so at a high rate – meaning that house prices remain relatively high.

Using an estate agent (makelaar) to buy a property is common in the Netherlands and, for expats who are new to the country or aren’t fluent in Dutch, it is highly advisable to take this approach. The estate agent will ensure that you are aware of the rules, regulations, and procedures involved in the house-buying process.

If you’re looking for a property to buy in the Netherlands, there are a number of sources and platforms to use, including online listings, local newspapers, and free property papers. Property classifieds usually appear on Wednesdays or Thursdays, and can be found in major newspapers, such as the Telegraaf, Via Via, and De Partikulier. You might also see for sale (Te Koop) boards on available properties when you’re out and about – they will provide contact details to arrange a viewing.

Properties can also be found using online portals, such as the following.
Funda - www.funda.nl
Perfect Housing - www.perfecthousing.com
Pararius - www.pararius.com
Direct Wonen - www.directwonen.nl

Once you’ve found the property you’d like to buy, you will need to arrange an appraisal and a structural or building survey where required. It’s important that you contact the mortgage broker at this stage as many of them have specific requirements for the appraisal.

In addition to the appraisal, you might also wish to request the land registry and any property value information from the registry office. Further guidance about the value of a property is available through the Vereniging Eigen Huis. These services attempt to calculate a reasonable property valuation, based on recent sales in the area.

This information should give you a good insight into the value of the property and allow you to decide on your offer.

Once you’ve made your initial offer, negotiations will then take place between your estate agent and the seller’s estate agent. During the negotiations, it’s worth remembering that furniture, fixtures, and fittings are not normally included in the price, so if you would like to include them in the purchase, your estate agent will need to cover this in the negotiations too.

If and when the sale is agreed, the following formal steps will occur.
- Firstly, the buyer and the seller will sign a pre-sale agreement (koopovereenkomst) or a provisional contract (voorlopige). This will include any penalty clauses that will come into effect if either the buyer or the seller pulls out of the agreement. There will then be a three-day cooling off period, during which the buyer can pull out of the contract without facing a penalty.
- The notary (notaris) holds the contract and a 10% deposit, paid by the buyer. The deposit can usually be replaced by a guarantee issued by a Dutch bank.
- The buyer arranges their mortgage (if necessary)
- The buyer and seller sign the completion contract (akte van levering)
- Finally, the notary registers the property transfer at the land registry office (kadaster)

On average, the formal process takes approximately four days to complete.

When the purchase agreement is made at the start of the process, the seller is obliged to report any hidden defects or issues, such as damp. If any unreported defects are discovered after the sale of the property and the buyer reports them to the estate agent within six months of the sale, the agent is obliged to contact the seller. The buyer and seller will then negotiate, through the estate agent, an agreement between the two parties and the seller will usually have to pay for the problems to be resolved. If an agreement cannot be made through negotiation, then the matter may have to go to court.

If you are buying an apartment, the process can be more complex as, although you will own the flat itself outright, you will only own a share or a leasehold in the building or the land it stands on.

There is typically a buyer’s agent and a seller’s agent involved throughout the process, both of which have different roles in the transactions and are paid separately.

The fees involved in buying a property in the Netherlands can be quite high – they usually amount to around 10% of the price of the property. Costs include a 6% tax, notary fees, estate agent fees, property registration costs, and mortgage administration fees. When looking through advertisements, the costs payable by the buyer are usually marked with a ‘KK’ (Kosten Koper).

On the other hand, home owners who are resident or partially-resident taxpayers in the country can benefit from generous tax breaks as the interest paid on mortgages is tax deductible. This means that each month you will make your monthly mortgage payment, but then a few weeks later you’ll receive the interest back. You can also claim back tax on some of the fees paid, such as the notaris, the taxatie, and the request for the NHG.

Useful Resources
SNS Bank's Guide To Mortgages In The Netherlands

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