5 things you should and shouldn't do when buying a house in the Netherlands
Taking the decision to buy property is always a big one, and with house hunting comes a lot of stress and a lot of paperwork; you need to know what you're looking for, where you want to live, and what you can afford, and even then it can be extremely difficult to battle the Dutch housing market and come out of the fight with the keys to your dream home.
In order to make sure your house-buying process is as smooth as possible, here are some handy do's and don'ts when it comes to buying a house in the Netherlands.
What not to do when buying a house...
Let's start with the don'ts: what are some big no-nos that you should be aware of once you decide to take the plunge and buy a home?
1. Don’t buy the first house you see
Maybe you’re one of those extremely lucky people who book one viewing and end up finding somewhere amazing. It is possible that the first place you see is the one for you, but try not to rush into it - especially if this is the first time you’re looking to buy a property. As you lack experience, it’s likely you’ll overlook some key features, or not yet know exactly what you’re looking for or what kind of places are available to you in your budget.
If you’re convinced that you’ve found your dream home - whether it be the first or 17th property you view - definitely try and book a second viewing so you have time to look back over everything and make sure there isn’t anything you missed in the excitement of the first viewing.
2. Don’t go to viewings alone
Even if you’re buying the property for yourself, it might be useful to have a second pair of eyes looking over everything - especially if those eyes belong to someone who is particularly critical or experienced when it comes to buying property in the Netherlands. Grab a friend or a family member if possible and have them tag along on your viewings. If this isn’t possible, maybe consider consulting a buying agent to make the process easier and less stressful.
3. Don’t take out your maximum mortgage
You may be thinking “But if I’m entitled to all this money, shouldn’t I take it and get the best house possible?” While this is a solid question, it’s important to remember that mortgage costs aren't the only expenses you’ll be responsible for when you’ve bought your new home. Rather than putting yourself in a position where all of your monthly salary is being put towards your bills, consider making sure you can also have some left over to have a little fun!
4. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you
Looking for and buying a property is a tense and exciting time, and while it is easy to get caught up in the thrill of it all, don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Make sure you remember what it is you’re looking for in a property, and don’t get swayed by the words of an estate agent, as they are just trying to make a sale. Take your time (or take as much time as you can) to consider the property and the decision, and try not to let the excitement overshadow the issues the property might have.
5. Don’t lose sight of your budget
So you’ve done your research: you know the local housing market and you’ve got a list of what you’re looking for, plus you know what mortgage you can expect to get. As you go into viewings and start looking for your next home, it’s important not to lose sight of what you’re looking for, but also extremely important that you stay realistic about what you can afford. It’s tempting but dangerous to start looking at properties you know are out of your price range, and sod’s law dictates that you’ll fall head over heels in love with the one over-budget house you viewed.
Instead, try and start your search at the lower end of your budget - who knows, you might find something you absolutely adore, saving you from spending loads of extra money!
...And five things you should definitely do
There are so many things to keep track of when you're looking to buy a home for you and your family - here are five things you should definitely do if you're planning on buying property in the Netherlands.
1. Know the market
If you’ve moved to the Netherlands from abroad and have decided you’d rather invest in property than throw away money on a monthly rent, then congratulations! The Dutch housing market offers great opportunities for investment. But, if you’re new to the country, make sure you know the local market and what you should expect to afford with your budget. Property in the Netherlands is pretty pricey, so while your budget may have been a very healthy one back in your home country, adjust your expectations to fit the Dutch market.
2. Look beyond the house itself
It can be tempting to think you’ve found the perfect home: the right amount of bedrooms, some outdoor space, and a modern kitchen. But don’t forget other equally important factors such as the location - is there a supermarket nearby? What about the local schools? Is it an international area or is there a mix of expats and locals? Or maybe consider which way your garden / balcony / windows are facing to ensure you get the right amount of light.
3. Get the building inspected
Similar to the previous point, you might have found a property that ticks all the boxes, but you should know exactly what you’re signing yourself up for if you buy it. A lot of properties in the Netherlands are pretty old, and Amsterdam has had a number of issues over the past couple of years as foundations give way and houses gradually sink into the ground - something that costs a lot of money to fix.
So, make sure you have an independent inspector come in to check the house for any structural issues - and find someone to investigate the legal status of the property while you’re at it! In the Netherlands, the buyer is legally responsible for checking the house for any defects before buying, so make sure you know all there is to know before you sign on the dotted line.
4. Sort the mortgage on time
Before you start bidding on a property, make sure you know your maximum mortgage potential. Once you have all the information ahead of time, it’ll give you more security when it comes to bidding on your new home, and there won’t be as big a risk of your mortgage request being denied at the last minute.
Also, before you sign on to any mortgage agreement, check the conditions set by the mortgage lender so you don’t face any nasty surprises a few months down the road.
5. Find the right insurance
Once you’ve gone through the stress of viewings and bidding and you’ve found the place you want to live, you can start looking for the right home insurance for you and all your belongings. In the Netherlands, there are some insurers that also offer their services in English, which can make your life as an expat a lot easier.
Let the house hunting begin!
If you're new to the Netherlands, make sure you've done your research about the Dutch housing market and the steps involved in buying property in the Netherlands. And don't forget to have fun too! It may be a stressful investment, but you're looking for the home of your dreams - try and make the most of the process!
If you're still looking for some more advice, check out IamExpat's property buying checklist here!