Expat Mortgages: Buying a house in a time of crisis
Henk Jansen, the founder of Expat Mortgages, sees advantages for smart house buyers in the months ahead.
Buying a house is a long-term financial decision. The alternative to buying is renting, but right now rental prices are very high, there are not many properties for rent and the quality of rental houses or apartments do not always match the expectations of our clients. If you’ve got a secure job in the Netherlands and you expect to stay here for at least another three to five years, buying a house is a very good alternative to renting!
Interest rates are historically low. Some people have raised concerns that the rates could rise due to the corona crisis, but our experts don’t expect them to go up a lot in the coming months. Base lending rates normally go down in times of crisis (as they have done already in the UK) to help stimulate confidence in the economy and convince companies and people to start investing again.
However, banks are raising their mortgages to make up for any potential losses, so mortgage rates might go up a little. Even so, they are still extremely low compared to several years ago!
High demand for houses
The demand for houses is still very high. Certain jobs could be at risk because of the economic impact of measures to control the coronavirus – although the Dutch government has announced that it will temporarily pay up to 90% of salaries in loss-making companies to avoid redundancies.
Even so, the number of houses that are on sale doesn’t come near to matching the demand. There’s a massive drive to build new houses, but this is a slow process. New companies are moving their headquarters to the Netherlands and the need for houses is still growing.
House prices might not go up as much as they have done in the past years, and they might even go down a little in the months ahead as nobody knows how long the coronavirus will be with us. But in the long run, prices will not go down – because demand is higher than the supply – so, real estate will remain a solid investment.
Right now, smart buyers could even get a better price!
At this moment, people (including expats) can still buy houses and obtain mortgages. Rules haven’t changed because of the corona situation, and like every other industry, people involved in house sales are taking advantage of modern technology to carry on working.
According to the homeowners’ association Eigen Huis, notaries can be given "power of attorney" to sign house deeds on your behalf, while some estate agents are offering online house viewings and neighbourhood tours with the help of 3D cameras on a car! You can still view houses, but you’ll get a solo viewing – which arguably gives a buyer more time and less pressure.
Our advisors are still available. Expat Mortgages isn’t conducting face-to-face meetings at this moment, but we would love to organise an online appointment, have a chat over the phone, or answer your questions via e-mail: all of our 19 consultants and area specialists are available at a time convenient for you.
We will also carry on providing "free information" through our expert webinars, for companies and for the general house buyer. Our housing workshops are available at least once a week (check our website for registration) and we have upgraded our Expat Housing Seminar to an Expat Housing Webinar (first session on April 21).
Please register here.
Positive changes at banks
At Expat Mortgages, we’ve also used the past days to arrange some changes with our business partners, to take into account the fact that the government has asked the country to work from home. At this moment, digital identification is possible and a digital signature is accepted by most of our banking business partners.
Problems paying? Some banks have announced that they will offer temporary solutions for people who have trouble paying their financial (mortgage) obligations in the months ahead – a sign that we are all in this together. All in all, these are challenging times we’ve never faced before.
At Expat Mortgages, we do believe we will come out of this even stronger. In the meantime: #StaySafeStayPositive
~ Henk Jansen