Getting on the property ladder in the Amsterdam Area
If you’re considering buying a house or apartment in the Amsterdam region, it is advised to first meet with a mortgage advisor at your bank or an agency. This will give you a realistic picture of what you can afford.
The choice of property is either freehold (eigen grond) or leasehold (erfpacht). Make sure to read up on housing rights. As a buyer/occupier you will not require a housing permit for an existing property, nor for a new build. However, if you are not occupying the property you have purchased, you may need a housing permit for your tenant. You are allowed to use your second home (pied-á-terre) for residential purposes, but not for holiday rentals, lodgings for free or (partial) office. In those cases it is considered as a hotel or office, which could lead to a fine. For more information, see our article about rental property in the Amsterdam Area.
If you’re planning a long-term stay in the city region, there are monetary benefits that come with becoming a homeowner. Mortgage (hypotheek) interest payments are subject to tax deductions if the house is your primary residence, and the notary (notaris) costs that go into the signing of the contract are tax deductible. If your employer pays the rent or contributes to it, this amount is also tax deductible.
There are many ways to go about house hunting in the Amsterdam Area:
Estate agents (makelaars) – They will keep you informed of suitable properties for sale, arrange viewings and offer practical advice. Commission is usually 1 or 2% of the eventual purchase price, plus VAT (BTW). Recommendations are always a good start, as is the MVA – the professional association for estate agents active in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. The MVA represents some 600 certified and experienced estate agents working in Amsterdam, Amstelveen, Hoofddorp and other cities and towns in the region. (If you're looking elsewhere in the Netherlands, check the NVM – the Dutch association of estate agents.) MVA agents can assist expats in both purchasing and selling new homes; they can also help with renting, leasing out or valuing a home and give information and advice about the Amsterdam Area's housing market.
Adverts – Local papers usually carry a housing (woon) supplement on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Also try special property papers.
Online – Estate agents regularly publish their stock on the major property sites: Funda (in Dutch) and MVA (see above). If you’re already working with a mortgage advisor, ask if they can notify you of new properties (possibly even before they even go on Funda).
New builds – If you’re interested in a new build or want to look at projects under construction, visit www.amsterdamwoont.nl. Here you can find new-build houses and apartments currently for sale, as well as upcoming projects. Use the search function to look at the Amsterdam Area as a whole, or focus on specific regions, cities or neighbourhoods. You can also filter projects by size, price and other housing charateristics.
Things to keep in mind
If you find something you like, watch out for:
Costs – For properties advertised as kosten koper or kk, you will be obliged to pay expenses for things like the services of an estate agent, transfer costs etc. If a house is advertised as vrij op naam or VON, all costs are included in the price.
Negotiation – If you are in negotiations with a buyer, the seller’s estate agent is still allowed to show the house to other parties. He is usually working on the side of the buyer, so try and protect your interests using your own agent or a friend who knows the system.
Asking price - Base your price on the market value of the property, not the asking price. Make sure your offer is made with the proviso 'subject to raising finance'. The written agreement is known as Presale Agreement/Contract of Sale and must be drawn up by a lawyer and signed by buyer and vendor. You’re allowed a three-day cooling-off period for withdrawal. Beyond that, you may risk a penalty of 10% of the asking price if you pull out for lack of funds.
Ground lease - Also known as leasehold. In Amsterdam, it is very common that the owner of the ground that your house is on is the City of Amsterdam. In this case, you typically pay a rental fee for the ground. Continuous leasehold means the cost of this fee is recalculated at the end of a fixed period, such as every 50 years. Perpetual leasehold involves paying a fixed rate with no end date.
Please note: in 2019, the City of Amsterdam gave homeowners the opportunity to switch from continuous leasehold to perpetual leasehold for particularly favourable conditions if they began the application process to switch by 8 January 2020. It is still possible to switch from perpetual to continuous leasehold after this date, but the conditions will vary.
Arranging a mortgage in the Netherlands
Generally the cost of buying a home is around 8% of the purchase price. Banks may lend up to five times your salary if you meet the following conditions:
You have a valid residence permit.
You have lived in the Netherlands for five years.
If self-employed, you can produce statements for the last three years and show future potential earnings.
Different mortgages vary from an annuities mortgage where you pay a lot of interest in the initial years but repay little of the initial capital loan, and then towards the end of the mortgage term as you begin to pay off more capital and hence less interest. There is also a linear mortgage where you repay the initial mortgage loan by a fixed amount every month. On top of this you pay interest, but the interest payments will reduce over time since you are gradually redeeming the initial loan. Since the mortgage amount will actually decrease, so will your interest payments.
You’ll find a wide variety of mortgages (hypotheek) on offer beyond these two examples but as an expat, it’s advisable to do your homework and ask friends or family for recommendations to get the best deal.
When it comes to the actual purchase, you will have to provide a property valuation report (taxatierapport), which is usually arranged by a surveyor (taxateur) for a fee. Note: this report is not a comprehensive structural survey, simply an advisory valuation.
To conclude the sale, both parties must sign a transfer contract (akte van levering). Typically this will take place in Dutch, therefore it is advised to ask for an interpreter in advance if you feel you need one. Upon completion, the lawyer will inform the Land Registry (Kadaster) and you should get your keys within two to three months.
Apartment owners' associations
In the Netherlands, you automatically become a member of an owners' association known as Vereniging van Eigenaren (VvE) when you purchase an apartment. This is a legally binding arrangement that ensures that owners collectively take care of managing and maintaining shared spaces, including sharing costs. Read more about VvE obligations.