So you’ve finally decided to buy a property in the Netherlands to call your own: good choice! Home buying can be a lovely journey, provided you do it right. There are several things to consider, namely: where you’re going to buy, your budget, will you use a mortgage broker, or head to the local bank nearby and see what they can offer. One of the main struggles many expats face is how to chose that perfect estate agent to guide you through the market. Using an estate agent for buying a house isn’t mandatory but keep in mind that sellers will take you more seriously if you have one. And in this crazy market (10.000 euro per square meter in Amsterdam!), it may save you some headaches. There are over 9000 in The Netherlands and so choosing the right real estate agent can be a challenge in itself, but we’ve put together a handy guide to help you through this journey. When searching for and working with a real estate agent, you’ll want to look at the following aspects.
The Price & What You Get
The pricing for the services of an agent can range drastically, and so does the level of service. In terms of price, you’ll encounter a fixed fee and a fee based on the percentage of the property. Generally speaking, it’s better to go with a fixed fee because you and your agent’s interests are aligned. As part of an estate agent’s job is to get you the lowest price possible for the property, it’s weird that they are compensated more when you pay more. Also, remember to check the VAT (value-added tax) as some agents calculate their costs excluding VAT, and some included it. VAT is the Netherlands currently at 21%.
What You Get
It’s important to ensure that you compare the same tasks and associated costs with each other. Generally speaking, the more service you want, the more it will typically cost, and the level of service can differ drastically. Some of the items to consider are:
- Will the real estate agent accompany you (or not) for the visits (and if so how often)?
- The housing search (will they search for you online, or will you do that yourself?)
- Whether or not the real estate agent can get access to houses before they get posted to the online housing platforms.
- Does the service include the mortgage broker fee (i.e., a 2 in 1 deal)
- How closely will they review the contract with you
- Will they accompany you to The Notary/inspection on the day of
If you are super busy and don’t have much time, using a full-service agent might be better. On a budget? No problem, look for the right estate agent that offers just the basics.
Keep in mind that estate agents who charge a percentage of the property’s value will argue that they offer more service, so it’s essential to look at what you get for what you are paying. Compare apples to apples.
Regardless of what you decide to go with: what is key, however, is the service is no cure, no pay. That means that you only pay the estate agent once you get the keys for the property (i.e., after going to the notary).
The Estate Agents Credentials or Certifications
In the Netherlands, the profession of real estate agent is liberal. Anyone can be an agent. This dynamic is in stark contrast to say being a lawyer or “advocaat.” You can’t just say you’re a lawyer without having passed specific criteria.
There are three real estate professional associations: NVM, VBO & VastgoedPro. To be registered at one of these associations, it is required to have a degree in real estate. So it’s important to look for an agent who is associated with one of these associations.
Local Working Knowledge
Once you decide on the city you’d like to live in and choose to use an estate agent, it’s important to find an estate agent who knows the city, the neighborhoods, and the current selling prices of houses. This is so that they can adequately advise you based on your needs.
The estate agent’s network and years of experience in that city are also significant to evaluate. An estate agent with an extensive network is helpful because they will offer more insight and better terms due to their connections. This will also help you with the bidding strategy because they know other agents in the area. Believe it or not, there is favoritism in this industry, so a popular, well-respected, and known estate agent can go a long way.
Good Customer Service
Let’s be honest the Netherlands leads the world in many ways, and customer service isn’t generally one of them. It’s important to find an estate agent who will offer good customer service. Good customer service means:
- Listens & Understands your Needs
Of course, don’t also forget to respect the boundaries and the agreement you have with the right real estate agent, because after all, it’s a partnership!
Don’t Just Look at Real Estate Agents’ Ratings
A well-known firm, Juiste Maakelaar researched real estate agents and their ratings. A significant amount of agents have a rating of 9+. So they all have very high ratings because only people who successfully worked with these agents can fill in the ratings. It doesn’t hurt to ask for references or ask your network for referrals. You can always ask us at: email@example.com, and we’re always willing to help!
Outsource Your Decision
You may find it hard to make a decision based on all your research and the points we’ve provided. The best way might be to get in touch with Juiste Maakelaar (“literally the right estate agent”). These guys have a network of over 500 estate agents across The Netherlands who offer various packages. The real estate agents they work with are registered at one of the three associations and are vetted by Juiste Maakelaar.
They make an in-depth comparison for each expat. So each comparison is unique. After the customer has completed their form, they do an additional personal phone intake to ask questions and answer all unanswered questions. Once this concludes, the system will select two real estate agents. This selection is made based on the customer’s preferences, previous customers, the available data about the different real estate agents, and their success rate.
The customer will receive an email with the two selected agents. The real estate agents will contact them to make an appointment. The decision is up to the customer. Each request is free and without any obligation!