The housing market is rarely out of the headlines – house prices are falling, interest rates are rising, and there is no change in the supply of suitable property. Financial advisor José de Boer recommends keeping a cool head and getting proper advice before you take the plunge.
Where does all this commotion on the housing market leave you if you want to buy a house, either because you are fed up with paying extortionate rents or have decided to settle down?
You would not expect a financial advisor like myself to say anything different, but in the current market, I recommend talking to someone who knows the business through and through before you start.
Rising interest rates and the shortage of supply are both impacting the market, and you should ensure you have all the help you can get before you start buying a home. And that means knowing how much you can spend, what impact rising interest rates are likely to have, and what the long-term impact is likely to be on your finances.
The Stages of Buying a Home in the Netherlands
If you decide to go ahead, prepare yourself for the buying process and ensure you understand the stages you will have to deal with.
First of all, get an idea of your budget. Whatever happens to house prices, you need to know how much you can borrow because that will shape where you look and what you are looking for.
It is worth emphasising again there are no restrictions on expats getting a mortgage for buying a property in the Netherlands. Dutch mortgages are capped at 100% of the property value, but you must budget more for costs and fees. If you are a first-time buyer under 35, you may benefit from the moratorium on transfer tax. Again, a financial advisor can help you with this.
So how much can you spend? There are many online mortgage calculators around, but they all have shortcomings, which is why we at De Boer don’t have one. After all, there is no such thing as a standard ‘expat’, so why would you expect a standard mortgage calculation? As a very rough guide, you can borrow 4.5 times your annual salary.
But your first port of call should be a face-to-face meeting to get a more accurate idea, taking things like the 30% ruling, any foreign income and those wonderful 13th months into account.
Once you know financially where you stand, you should start looking at the market. The Funda website is one of several property portals where you can get a feel of what you can afford and where you are likely to find it. Go and walk around the areas you like and check up any property ‘for sale’ boards that you spot and look interesting.
You will also need an estate agent, or makelaar, who will represent your interests when making an offer. Their services are not free, so ask friends and work colleagues for recommendations, or look for someone who is specialised in the area where you hope to buy. And please don’t think you can go it alone, especially if you are not a very confident Dutch speaker.
Once you have found a property you like and have made an offer via your estate agent, you can apply for your mortgage, which should take a little time if you have done the paperwork in advance. Your mortgage lender will want a valuation and a structural survey of the building before signing off on the deal. Your estate agent can organise this on your behalf.
After that, it is a matter of exchanging contracts and visiting a notary to seal the agreement. And once your mortgage has been finalised – which is where we come in again – you will have joined the ranks of homeowners.
Buying a home in a foreign country might sound a little scary, but thousands of expats have gone before you with no regrets. It is all just a matter of getting organised and ensuring you get the best possible advice along the way.
For more information about buying a house in the Netherlands, feel free to contact José directly.