Expats buying a house in the Netherlands

How should I start when I’m ready to buy a house?

The first thing to do is figure out how much you can borrow. Knowing the maximum home price allows you to be certain that you can actually buy the property. You can estimate how much you can afford here or you can contact us to learn exactly what you can borrow – free of charge, of course.


How can I find a house in the Netherlands?

Most houses for sale are listed on Funda.nl, which is available in English as well as Dutch. Other good sites to check are VBO.nl or Jaap.nl. If you find a property you’re interested in seeing, you can call or email the estate broker to make an appointment. Quite often, especially in the big cities, they have “walk-in hours,” which are times when you can drop by to see the property without an appointment.


What’s the difference between buying a house and buying an apartment?

There is a slight difference between buying a house and buying an apartment in the Netherlands. Buying a house makes you the sole owner of the building and the ground. When you buy an apartment, you buy a share in the ownership of the building and the ground, also known as an apartment right. This gives you the exclusive right to live there.

In some cities, especially in Amsterdam, ground can come as a “ground lease” (erfpacht). This doesn’t give you ownership of the ground, but it gives you the right to use it. For a ground lease, you’ll pay an annual fee or pay the fee in advance for many years.


house in THE NETHERLANDS expat

Can I buy a house to let?

No. That is, not with a ‘normal’ mortgage. With standard mortgages it’s not allowed to rent out your home. They are strictly meant for self-occupancy. Only in special circumstances like a long lasting vacancy or a transitional period you can rent it out for a limited period of time and with consent of the mortgage provider. There are, however, some mortgages which can be used for buy to let. But the interest rate is always fairly higher and you have invest money of your own, up to 30-50%.


What is the Dutch housing market like?

The Dutch housing market is rapidly recovering from the crisis. Prices are approaching pre-crisis levels or even exceeding them, especially in the regions around Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague. That’s why some properties sell without ever even making it to a housing website. And if you manage to see the house and are invited to make a bid, your bid could be one of many, which boosts the price. In popular regions, you should consider the asking price to be the starting price.
Calculate your maximum mortgage here


Netherlands Amsterdam houses

Should I work with a real estate agent?

Many buyers successfully purchase a home without the help of a real estate agent; however, if you’re house hunting in an area where homes are selling fast, it could benefit you to hire professional help.

Real estate agents are the first to know what’s coming to the market – even before it’s listed on Funda – and can easily reach out to their colleagues to negotiate for you. In most cases, you’ll pay either a fixed fee or a percentage of the home price to work with a real estate agent. But paying the extra money could be well worth your while to get a home you love. If you’re interested in working with a real estate agent, please contact us so we can connect you with a professional.


How does the bidding process work?

Once you place a bid, the seller will usually negotiate exclusively with you – though this is not a guarantee. The seller will start accepting other bids again if your bid is declined.

However, if there are many interested buyers, the seller may allow bidding by “tender,” which means that many buyers can present their bids at one time. If that happens, the seller will pick what they feel is the best offer, which isn’t always the highest one.

Mind you that a verbal agreement, even when it’s confirmed by email, is not binding for both parties. Only a signed purchase agreement is legally binding. Until then, the seller may pull back and sell it to someone else. This is the only exception in the Dutch law. All other verbal agreements, like a rental agreement, are legally binding (of course you have to prove it). Important to know is that, after signing a purchase contract, the buyer has a 3 working days consideration time. This is also known as a “cooling-off period“. In that period you may cancel the agreement without reason or costs.


What happens after my bid gets accepted?

Within a few days of your offer getting accepted, you’ll sign a preliminary purchase agreement. This is usually drafted by the seller. The contract describes the house, the price, the date the deal will close and the obligations of the buyer and the seller.

This purchase agreement is preliminary because it includes cancellation clauses, which are means for the contract to be cancelled if something doesn’t go right.

It’s a good idea to include a few cancellation clauses of your own. You’ll want to be able to cancel if you’re unable to obtain a mortgage, for instance. (This is commonly known as a restriction of finance clause.) You may also want a clause that allows you to cancel or negotiate a lower price if the home inspection doesn’t go well. Additionally, you’ll want to be able to back out if you’re not able to obtain a National Mortgage Guarantee, which is like insurance that covers you if you can’t pay your mortgage due to unemployment, divorce or being unable to work.

No matter what clauses are in the purchase agreement, you’ll always have the right to terminate the contract within three business days of signing it.


Do I need to put down a deposit?

All sellers will ask for a financial guarantee in the form of a 10% deposit. You must deposit these funds in cash into a notary’s escrow account. If you don’t have the cash, you can instead provide a bank guarantee, which is a note that guarantees that the bank or lender will pay the deposit if you break the contract.

If you decide to cancel the buying agreement without a valid reason – meaning one that was agreed upon in your preliminary purchase agreement – the seller will get to keep the deposit.


How much can I finance and what costs will I pay upfront?

In the Netherlands, you can finance up to 100% of the market value of your house. That means that some costs involved in buying the house must be paid out-of-pocket. You can read more about financing here.


How does the home buying transaction close?

When everything is agreed upon and the contract is final, it’s time to close the deal.

First, you’ll want to inspect your new property to make sure it’s in the condition you expected it to be in. Then, both parties will go to a civil law notary to settle the purchase. The notary will legally transfer the ownership of the property to you and pay the seller.


How can Expat Mortgage Platform help me buy a home?

Expat Mortgage Platform can help in a variety of ways:

  • We can help you find the best mortgage for you
  • We can connect you to the best real estate agents
  • We can help you find a good appraiser
  • We can find you a helpful and inexpensive notary
  • We can find a translator for you

Our role is to keep an eye on the whole home buying process; we want to help in any way we can. If you want to learn more about our services, please contact us.

Here you can view and read what “What to bring to a Mortgage interview”.

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