Are you considering buying a house or apartment in Amsterdam? Not only do you need to think about the location and price, but also the mortgage and taxes. And while forgetting to make a deal on the couch in the living room is not that big of a deal, not checking the VVE could suddenly set you back a few thousand euros. We compiled a list of important do’s and don’ts of buying an apartment in Amsterdam to help you prevent a financial setback. And if you’ve encountered more important do’s or don’ts, please let us know. We’d like to help as many expats as possible!
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Do’s and don’ts of buying a house in Amsterdam
1. One world, one system?
Even if you’ve bought homes overseas before, it’s best to talk to a real estate agent in the Netherlands before you purchase a house. The leasehold system for example differs greatly from China or the United Kingdom. Did you buy a house with a credit card before? In America it might be possible, but in the Netherlands a credit card could negatively influence your mortgage. The Dutch housing market has its own set of rules, so it’s important to talk to a real estate agent who knows about these rules and can work them in your favor.
2. Don’t forget to double check online platforms
Don’t look for houses and apartments in Amsterdam through all kinds of shady online platforms. There are a few large trustworthy platforms like Funda, but there are many websites where fraudsters are active. They will place a fake ad to try and get money or documents for identity fraud. Make sure the platform you visit is trustworthy and take the buying process to a real estate agent.
3. Buying in Amsterdam or surrounding areas?
Amsterdam is a popular city in the Netherlands. Not only is it the capital of the country, it also has a high density of famous landmarks and is easily accessible from just about any other large city in the Netherlands. This means that the houses are priced fairly high compared to surrounding cities. You could ask yourself: do you really need to live in the city center? Places like Haarlem might also be interesting for you. You travel to the city center within 45 minutes and the houses usually have more square footage compared to Amsterdam. Try to be open-minded and ask your real estate agent for houses in the area surrounding Amsterdam as well, you might get pleasantly surprised!
4. Your dream home
As part of the do’s and don’ts of buying an apartment in Amsterdam: do think about the local building habits. Do keep in mind that houses in the Netherlands might be built differently than what you’re used to. Compared to American standards for example, the stairs are quite steep (especially in the grachtenpanden in the city center). It’s definitely not common to have a kitchen island or a patio. A bath tub? Many homes only have a shower. A second bathroom is considered quite luxurious. A garage? A lot of citizens in Amsterdam don’t even own a car but do their groceries and visits to friends and family by bike. If you have a few items you can’t you go without in your new home, it’s best to let your real estate agent know as soon as possible.
5. Get your own real estate agent
In the Netherlands it is common to hire a real estate agent if you’re selling the house as well as when you’re buying a house. The real estate agent showing you the home will do anything he or she can to sell you the house for the best possible price: for the seller. If you have your own real estate agent, you can ask them to look for specific houses. They will come with you when you view the property and will ask questions about the state of the property. They’ll know when the asking price is too high or when there is a chance to bid lower than the asking price.
6. Always visit the house you wish to buy
In recent bidding wars, some buyers are waiving home inspections just to get their dream home. However, it’s a great risk to buy a house or apartment without an inspection. There could be unforeseen problems in the attic, crawlspace or fuse box for example. Ask your real estate agent for any pre-existing home inspections and preferably take an expert with you. Our real estate agents can help you with this process.
7. Check the VVE
The VVE is an association of owners and every apartment building will have one. You will pay the VVE a monthly fee, which they use to take care of the building: the lights in the hallway, the elevator or the roof for example. They also have a list with rules for the owners in the apartment building. A popular rule that’s recently added everywhere is that you’re not allowed to rent out your property while on holiday (through AirBnB for example).
8. Financial status and plans of the VVE
Checking the financial status and plans of the VVE is something you should not skip while looking for an apartment. The association always has a certain amount of money for maintenance and repairs. However, if they have decided to redo the roof within a year and there isn’t enough money, the monthly fee might suddenly go up.
9. Talk to the neighbors
The best way to get an idea of the neighborhood is talking to your future neighbors. What are they like, how long have they lived in this neighborhood? What do they like about it, and what do they dislike? It’s not only a great way to discover who lives next to you, but also get a feeling about the area in Amsterdam you’re in.
10. The interior is not always included
Part of the do’s and don’ts of buying an apartment in Amsterdam is to look at the purchase contract carefully, specifically the interior. When you visit an apartment, the owner will have done everything to make it presentable. However, if you forget to make a deal on the furnishings, you might find the apartment you’ve bought without lights, curtains or coat racks after you’ve received the key. Your real estate agent can help you with the list of items that should be in the deal to make sure you don’t have an unpleasant surprise.
We are experts in advising expats throughout their journey to their dream home. Would you like to know more about housing services, financial risks or the mortgage check? Feel free to contact us.