Buying a house

Buying a property in the Netherlands

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Foreigners can freely buy a house in the Netherlands, but you should know the quirks of the Dutch housing market before buying your home in the Netherlands.

Whether you've just moved to the Netherlands or already well-established, you may want to consider the benefits of buying a home in the Netherlands. No restrictions are placed on foreigners for buying a house in the Netherlands, but you should know the quirks of the Dutch housing market before buying your Dutch home.

Along with many other countries, the housing market in the Netherlands has been in flux since the 2008 financial crisis ended a long period of rising property prices. The country is densely populated with a growing population, so competition for appealing properties in certain areas can be fierce. Almost 60 percent of Dutch people own their own home, and apartments or high-density family housing are common.

Should you rent or buy in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands has a high proportion of social housing and rent controlled housing. Both are often restricted to low-income renters, which can make finding a property harder. There are tax benefits for home owners and mortgage costs are often lower than rent, however as the transaction costs of buying a house are around 6 percent and the property market is in flux, it is recommended you rent if you are new to an area or planning a stay of three years or less. Find out more in Expatica's guide on renting in the Netherlands or read on for further information about buying a property.

Are foreigners allowed to buy property?

Yes. The Netherlands does not place any restrictions on the purchase of property by foreigners, whether resident or non-resident.

Finding a property to buy

As in most countries, you can find property listings online, and in local newspapers and free property papers. Using a real estate agent is very common in the Netherlands, and is advisable, particularly for those who are new to the country or are not fluent in Dutch.

Dutch estate agents are called makelaar. It's common to have both a buyer's agent and a seller's agent, and each will have different roles in the transaction – and have to be paid separately.

Online property portals


Advantages and disadvantages of using a Dutch estate agent

  • Expect to sign a contract with your agent – these are often exclusive.
  • This means you may be charged the agent's fee even if you find a property yourself or decide not to buy.
  • Fees are typically 1–2 percent of the property purchase price.
  • Agents do the search and initial screen for you.
  • The agent should be only working for you, not for the seller.
  • Agents may have insider knowledge about the market in a particular area.
  • Agents may be able to advise on peripherals, such as neighbourhoods, schools and public transport.
  • Agent may be able to translate for you.
  • Agents can handle negotiations, notary meetings and arrange the sale contract.
  • Agents should perform property checks (not a structural survey) regarding ownership, land registry and apartment cooperative contracts – this is important as it is possible to buy a property without then having the right to live in it.
 

Concerns when choosing an apartment in the Netherlands

When you buy an apartment, although you own the flat itself outright, you only own a share or a leasehold in the building and/or the land it stands on. As a result, buying an apartment can be more complex than buying a freehold property.

In the Netherlands, each apartment building is managed by an owner's association called a Vereniging van Eigenaren (VvE). These are responsible for general repairs and maintenance and may be well or poorly run, or even go into debt. As a member, you will be responsible for your share of that debt, so it is important to check into the status of the VvE before purchase.

Further terms and conditions relating to the shared spaces will be laid out in the property division regulations (splitsingsreglement) which should be included with your documentation at the time of transfer.

How to buy a house in the Netherlands

Buying a property in the Netherlands

Once you've found a property you wish to make an offer on, the next step is to get an appraisal and, if required, a structural or building survey. Contact the mortgage broker you intend to use to ensure you get an appraisal which is also suitable for your mortgage application. You can also request land registry and property value information through the registry office at Kadaster (Dutch only).

When you have a clear idea of the value of the property, you can make an offer and begin negotiations. This is usually done through the buyer's and seller's estate agents. Negotiations are usually only undertaken with one prospective buyer at a time.

After the sale price has been agreed, the formal steps towards property transfer take place. 

  1. Buyer and seller sign a pre-sale agreement (koopovereenkomst) or provisional (voorlopige) contract.
  2. A notary (notaris) is selected who holds the signed contract and a 10 percent deposit paid by the buyer.
  3. The buyer arranges any mortgage they require.
  4. Buyer and seller sign a completion contract (akte van levering).
  5. The notary registers the property transfer at the land registry office (kadaster) completing the process.


Legal requirements

Dutch law requires that a notary must perform the property registration process. The costs will vary and may be a percentage of the property price, a per-hour charge or a fixed fee. As the total cost is usually EUR 1,000–3,000, it's worth shopping around a little.

A translator is also required to attend notary meetings in cases where one or more of the parties is not a Dutch citizen. Accredited translators can be hard to find, so ensure you book in advance, even if your Dutch is excellent. Translator fees are typically around EUR 200.

Funding: Deposits and mortgages

Your mortgage (hypotheek) will be arranged after the provisional sale contract is signed. However, it is possible – and important – to discuss mortgage terms with one or more prospective lenders before you make an offer. You may also wish to arrange a bridging loan or banker's guarantee to cover the deposit, for example if your cash is tied up in a property you are selling. Find out more in Expatica's Guide to Dutch mortgages.

Sale fees and charges

In the Netherlands, it is common to have both a buyer's agent and a seller's agent. The seller's estate agent fees will be paid by the seller, otherwise, all fees are typically handled by the buyer.

Budget approximately 6 percent of the purchase price for fees and charges. This breaks down to:

  • Transfer tax (overdrachtsbelasting) currently at 2 percent;
  • Legal fees around 1.0–1.5 percent;
  • Registration fees 1.0–1.5 percent;
  • Estate agent's fees 1-2 percent.


In any financial transaction, don't forget to ensure you understand whether the value added tax (BTW) applies, currently at 21 percent, and if so whether it has been included in the quoted price.

Buying a property in the Netherlands: Find a home in the Netherlands

The contracts

Pre-sale agreements (koopovereenkomst) or provisional (voorlopige) contracts should include all the usual essential information, such as property details, liens and encumbrances.

In addition, it is important to ensure that it includes:

  • An escape clause, in case you cannot get a mortgage;
  • Clear penalty or escape clauses, in case either party decides not to go through with the deal;
  • Whether any fixtures or fittings are included (such as carpets, light fittings and appliances).


This will form the basis for the completion contract (akte van levering) so it's important to make sure it's correct.

There is a legally mandated 72-hour cooling off period after you sign the contract in which you can change your mind without incurring a penalty. After that – congratulations! You're well on your way to owning your own home in the Netherlands.

 

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19 Comments To This Article

  • John posted:

    on 6th October 2016, 20:23:47 - Reply

    Good afternoon. My family and I are moving to the Netherlands in May and have found a house we would like to purchase. We are in need of an agent. Thank you!

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Labowski posted:

    on 6th October 2016, 21:07:01 - Reply

    Good afternoon. My family and I are moving to the Netherlands in May and have found a house we are interested in purchasing. Can you please put me in contact with a realtor? Thank you!

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • SjoukeJager posted:

    on 12th September 2016, 16:10:08 - Reply

    Hi Emanuele, I can help you to find a good agent specialised in commercial real estate.
  • SjoukeJager posted:

    on 12th September 2016, 16:08:14 - Reply

    Depending on the currency there are options to get mortgage without being paid in euros.
  • Yalcin posted:

    on 7th September 2016, 18:03:28 - Reply

    I am about buying an house in de meern. I work with an buying agent who recommended me another markelaar in order to complete taxation and evolution of the house. I would like to make a complain about their service but have no idea to which authority/organization? do you know any idea about it? Thanks, yalcin

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Jolynn posted:

    on 12th August 2016, 09:06:42 - Reply

    Looking to get a mortgage to buy property in The Netherlands, we can't seem to find a solution!! All banks and mortgage providers say no because we don't get salary payed in euros. Is there any other country that will provide this?

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert service]

  • Todd posted:

    on 16th April 2015, 10:57:18 - Reply

    We brought a house in Hooffddorp and we need a licensed translator for the signing in June. Legally we are required to do this. Our Notary said he knew of someone we can hire but they charge 300. This sounds pretty expensive based on some of the articles I've read that mention the cost usually being much less. Can anyone recommend someone who perhaps charges a bit less?

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our forums or Ask the Expert service]

  • Emanuele posted:

    on 19th February 2015, 11:04:03 - Reply

    an anyone recommend an estate agency, or private agent that specialize in commercial property. I would like to open a small restaurant in the center of Amsterdam and need help finding the right venue
  • Dino posted:

    on 12th May 2014, 22:24:11 - Reply

    @Hala, how do you buy a house if you do not have resident permit?
  • Hala posted:

    on 12th May 2014, 14:38:52 - Reply

    If i buy a house in the netherlands, does that guarentee me a residence permit in the country?

    [Editor's note: Please post questions on Expatica's Ask the Expert]

  • Brechtje Hoek posted:

    on 3rd February 2014, 14:52:16 - Reply

    If you found the house you intend t buy you can purchase information like property value (eigendoms akte) and morgage information (hypotheek akte) of the actual owner to improve your bargaining position at www.kadasterdata.nl. They provide very quickly, within several minutes or 1 our at most. It helped me a lot in bargaining, especially in a foreign town.
  • wayne posted:

    on 5th December 2013, 15:56:22 - Reply

    @koosje, having a law banning sqattering does not mean that the police or anybody else will come rescue your house when you suddenly find krakers/squatters living in it for free, here is a link about this problem:
    Www.dichtbij.nl/utrecht-en-leidsche-rijn/regionaal-nieuws/artikel/2779370/vvd-gemeente-moet-handhaven-en-krakers-uitzetten.aspx

    It shows you that apparently, despite that law, you shouldn't need to expect any help in evicting.

    @jim. De leegdtandswet is another semi solution: your bank has to approve of it ( if you google you will find almost none do). Plus, even if you do find a willing bank,then still you have to pray you got yourself the right type of contract for you to evict tenant, there was a scandal recently about brokers using the wrong one and then the tenant could stay in the house forever and never ever be evicted. Such is the Netherlands. Also, even if you do everything the right way, this leegstandvergunning is only temporary for a few years with no option of extension, so you still end up with a house which can not be rented out, and so you could bankrupt yourself.

    Another juicy story which may explain the reluctant behaviour of amsterdam in punishing squatters, is about vvd (a political party) finding out that the dutch government of some cities were secretely funding a squatter union, all fine of course, but not quite following the recent paper tiger law for anti squatter. Here is the shocking revelation on the largest brokers website NVM

    Www.nvm.nl/actual/juni_2013/vvd_boos_over_kraakspreekuur_amsterdam_west.aspx
  • jim posted:

    on 11th October 2013, 15:16:40 - Reply

    It's mostly buyers complaining here. I'm not surprised with 20% of Dutch homeowners underwater it is about the same for the Dutch. Houseprices have been falling for 5 consecutive years and the government is still denying the bubble. Must go wrong. A good analyses from abroad: http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article39921.html
    You would'nt have to worry about squaters too much either, since it has been made almost completely illegal by new law. 'De leegstandswet'.
    It's not 1980 anymore.
  • koosje posted:

    on 2nd September 2013, 08:34:41 - Reply

    How and why do squatters have any rights on the property you own in the Netherlands, is there a law for them and how do they get in, here where i live we would just throw them off the property, we don't have squatters to the best of my knowledge, can you some-one explain these squatters to me please.
  • Antonio posted:

    on 21st August 2013, 13:41:03 - Reply

    Let me emphasize that chosing a home in the country of the Netherlands is totally suicidal. I am an owner and I am now forced into dragging my tenant (he is a squatter, since he stopped paying rent with help of some buro) to the Courts. It's costing me thousands already, and we still have to face the judge, while the tenant got a government lawyer for free- can you believe that!!!! They said, I will be lucky to ever get my home back, because the tenant is allowed to pay reduced rent and stay - but i need to get my place freed up again, because i have got to get it sold asap and viewing need to start soon. [Edited by moderator]
  • Jerry posted:

    on 19th August 2013, 10:15:07 - Reply

    I would say there is an unacceptable risk for foreign buyers. If you buy to let, your broker will sum up a polished story on how you will easily rent it out at a premium, and he will do that because once a lease is signed a dutch broker washes his hands and is no longer to be held responsible for any legal disputes about rental price. And then, 6months down the road, you suddenly get a letter from the tenant's lawyer summoning you to LOWER the rent to say...20% of the amount they ought to be paying. There you are..as an owner, you do not have access to free legal services like the tenant has, and you have the responsibility to repay your mortgage. You will soon learn that you want to end the contract to limit losses on rental income, but what if the tenant refuses? yes, it is legal in the Netherlands to bully a landlord! Welcome to the Netherlands where stealing a property by a tenant is completely LEGAL. The next point will be about the much feared VVE (a group of owners making decisions on what can happen inside a building and your house). you soon find yourself at the centre of a meeting they will set up to make a 'final decision which will dissallow any further renting out of a room/period/certain forms'. the foreigner in their midst does not get to make a dime on his property. Can this VVE be stopped: NO. The majority of votes,you see, is what counts. [Edited by moderator]
  • JP posted:

    on 7th August 2013, 17:48:24 - Reply

    Even if the floors are not creaking in apartment buildings noise insullation may be completely insufficient and you end up in a flat hearing everything that goes on in the apartment below. Also beware of an Albert Heijn nearby as they make truck deliveries 5 times a day 7 days a week, making a lot of noise dragging 2 meter tall metal roller cages across the sidewalk. It is very noisy and you can't even complain to the city council as they tell you they have a permit to make noise as much as they like.
  • Paula posted:

    on 30th July 2013, 19:11:57 - Reply

    One also has to be careful of creaking floors (if its a 3-story building, the ground floor owner can give the upper owner a lot of trouble with the noise emanating from the creaking floors), building inspection reports indicating lead in the pipes and asbestos, and common entrances (1 door from the street with 2 doors behind it leading to ground floor and another to the upper floor house). Get a real estate adviser which will also bring an adviser on mortgages.
  • Andrew Siegel posted:

    on 28th June 2013, 12:00:10 - Reply

    Before buying a property, beware and do your due diligence, like ask the same property agent (makelaar) who wants to sell you the property, this:
    how -much- will this property be rented for?

    Good chance the makelaar will tell you a rental income figure per month much, and much lower than the monthly interest on your mortgage. That's how you will find out that you don't really want to buy that property. What if you relocate abroad and need to cover the mortgage bills by renting out your home?? how do you plan renting it out, if the government set a system which effectively sets your rental income to a 'maximized' amount irrespective of how much mortgage needs to be serviced monthly by the property owner? most of us don't want to end up subsidizing the rent of the tenant. Unless you like to play Robin Hood for the dutch rental market.