Buying a house just outside of Amsterdam city limits: A smart move
KNAP EXPAT Broker is an initiative of the KNAP Real Estate Agency, and a member of the MVA Certified Expat Brokers. Its core business is to offer consultation throughout the entire process of buying or selling a house in the Amsterdam region.
There’s no denying the appeal of Amsterdam. A metropolis. By all standards. Immensely popular to reside in, work there and visit. So far, so good. But what if you want to move there and actually make it your home city – how on earth could you possibly make that happen?
Buying a house in Amsterdam has never been as much of a challenge as it is in the current residential market. A market that has completely dried up, featuring a ratio of offer to demand that is more crooked than it has ever been. However, there are alternatives. And good ones, at that. Just outside of city limits.
Huge demand, hardly any offers
The number of residential properties has decreased spectacularly. Did you know that at this time (July 2018), approximately 1.200 properties are for sale in Amsterdam? During the housing crisis, there were over 10.000, that's not even including the residences that could not be put up for sale due to a mortgage that was too high.
The most recent calculations from the NVM/MVA (Q1 2018) show, moreover, that currently, some 58.000 people are looking to buy a property in Amsterdam. A supply of 1.200 properties to satisfy 58.000 prospective buyers!
So, what are the odds of you succeeding in buying your dream home? Preferably at a decent price and beneficial conditions? For expats in particular, this turns out to be quite the feat, since it’s not only the limited supply and the towering prices that make this difficult. Pressure on the procurement terms is increasing, as well.
Cancellation clauses, architectural inspections, and commissioning: all of these factors are relevant as you make the most advantageous bid, one that nearly needs to "seduce" buyers into going into business with you.
A hard (G) reality
Once they board the roller coaster of buying an Amsterdam residence, many international buyers find out that everything "is in Dutch" and not just "gezellig" (cozy). Amsterdam hosts many more "hard Gs", such as "erfpacht" (emphyteusis, a form of leasehold) and "Vereniging van Eigenaren (VVE)" (Association of Home Owners).
What exactly do these concepts mean, and which (financial) consequences do they entail for you, the buyer? It turns out that it’s of paramount importance to be well informed and properly prepared.
Duress in the housing market
Amsterdam, in any event, has been a city with a huge scarcity of resale housing since time immemorial, because of its large amount of rental homes: approximately 75 percent of all residential housing in Amsterdam is rental homes (source: NRC, May 2017). This is completely disproportionate in comparison to the rest of the Netherlands. If anything, it shows the amount of duress that exists in the housing market.
What’s more, the offer of larger (family) homes is exceedingly small. Only 3 percent of Amsterdam residences offer over 150m2 (1.615ft2) of habitable area (source: CBS, June 2018). Many houses are sold even before they are released onto the market and the selling time has reduced significantly to an average of 20 days.
Well, as the Dutch so poignantly say: “Je moet van goede huize komen” (literal meaning: you have to come from a good house), if you wish to purchase your dream home.
Knowing this, it’s only natural (as well as smart, but read on and find out why) that many house buyers expand their horizon. Usually, at first, only to just outside of the inner city, downtown city centre. This area, however, often rapidly expands to a radius of some 20 to 30 minutes outside of the city. And why not? Or, more succinctly: why so?
Buying outside of Amsterdam
So, you’re looking for something within half an hour of Amsterdam. A pleasant place to live, alone or with your family, and naturally you’ll have a nice range of (living) demands on your list. Provisions such as shops and schools and a decent, and fast, connection to your work are, of course, the default. I’ve recently encountered this process first hand.
How much is 20 minutes, really?
In my case, my search went from Castricum, through Hilversum, Abcoude, Nigtevecht and Weesp to Muiden, where we’ve now acquired our dream home. Coming from Muiden, I reach my office at the Weesperzijde within 20 minutes. Let me ask you: how much is 20 minutes, really?
If we compare distances in the Amsterdam region with those of other European cities such as London, Paris, or Barcelona, we’re actually quite spoiled. In London, people travel, on average, at least 45 minutes to an hour to get to work. That really is the most common thing in the world.
Living in the metropolitan area of Amsterdam
Keeping that small fact in mind, you’ll find there are really quite a lot of undiscovered treasures in the so-called "metropolitan area" of Amsterdam. These surrounding boroughs have a great deal to offer for the housing seekers, be they expats or not.
Alternatives in outlying areas are truly worthwhile for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is being able to live there cheaper, or to obtain much, much more whilst spending the very same amount.
Buying in Amsterdam or in Nigtevecht?
Here are two examples to demonstrate what you’d get in Amsterdam and what you’d get just outside of Amsterdam for a similar asking price:
Right in the centre of the popular Zuidas, at the Leo Smitstraat, you could buy an urban villa measuring 154m2 (1.658ft2) with a 21m2 patio (226ft2). An ideal family home with two bathrooms and three bedrooms, spread over two floors, boasting a sunny water-side patio.
At a mere 20 minutes from this very same location, in Nigtevecht, the oldest Vecht-bordering village, you could buy a splendid detached house, measuring 261m2 (2.809ft2) on a plot of a whopping 734m2 (7.901ft2). Living with "the green heart" as your backyard is possible at the Klompweg 6-D. So, Amsterdam versus Nigtevecht? It’s up to you.
According to the current owner of the Klompweg estate, it’s a no-brainer: "Each and every day, you truly come home. A delightful place where, after a day of working in the city, you can enjoy the peace and quiet, space, the greenery, and water all around. On top of that, it’s a smart buy as it really is a lot of house and grounds for what you pay".
Klompweg estate, Nigtevecht
Many expats have already chosen the outlying areas
The metropolitan area of Amsterdam already houses some 110.000 expats, 50.000 of whom reside in Amsterdam. So, the vast majority lives outside of the capital. A good, as well as a smart choice, since that’s where the houses and (international) schools can be found.
Besides offering consultation throughout the buying and selling process, KNAP Expat Broker also specialises in buy-to-let solutions for a select group of clients.
Combining these three areas of expertise - buying, selling and buy to let - KNAP Expat Broker aims to make you feel at home in the Amsterdam Real Estate Market.