Buying a house in Holland

Buying a house on auction

I thought I would share a fascinating experience with you.

Buying a house in Holland

For reasons too complicated to go into here – and not entirely relevant to this article - I recently sold my house. I decided to buy myself a small apartment and looked on the Funda website to see what was available. I found one that sounded quite nice and called the makelaar who informed me I was too late as the apartment was being put up for auction. Having ascertained that the auction had not yet taken place I asked for details.

Apparently all auctions are in the hands of a notaries. I called the notaries and was informed that I was too late to make an offer but called me back the following day and said that I could make an offer.

I offered 10% below the original asking price and was turned down. But I was welcome to attend the auction which was to take place in a local hotel about a week later. By this time I had pretty much given up as I did not wish to pay much more and could not see how it would go for less than the offer I had already made.

How wrong can you be!!!

More out of curiosity than with any real intention of joining in I went along to the auction on the due date. It was clear to me that just about everybody else there was a makelaar! “Fat chance I have”, I thought. However the proceedings are amazing.

There a total of eight properties to be auctioned that evening and fortunately for me the one that I was interested in was number 5 on the schedule. Thus I was able to get a good look at the proceedings before I actually got involved.

The first part of the proceedings is a standard auction – called the “inzet” in Dutch. Starting from a ridiculously low price bid follows bid until all but one has dropped out. It was interesting to note that for each property only two or three of the makelaars actually joined in the bidding. I had the distinct impression that there was considerable collusion going on between the makelaars.

However this is not the end of the proceedings.

The next stage is called the “afslag” in Dutch. The auctioneer starts at a ridiculously high price and counts backwards until he reaches the original highest bid. Anybody in the room –whether the participated in the original auction or not - may call “Mijn” at any point during the process and, so long as that point is above the original highest bid, the person calling “Mijn” gets the property!

4 properties were auctioned before mine came on the table. I had no idea whether the previous ones had gone for a good price or not as I had done no previous research on those. I determined not to join in the standard auction reasoning that the makelaars would know I was not one of them and keep bidding just to up the price. Imagine my amazement, therefore, when the bidding stopped a further 20% below my original offer directly to the notaris. I was definitely going to join in the “afslag”.

It is actually quite nerve wracking. I definitely wanted the property but did not wish to pay more than was necessary. I eventually yelled “Mine” €2,000 above the original highest bid and am now happily ensconced in my new flat.

In 30 years living in this country it is the first time the system has worked in my favour. I acquired the flat for 20% less than the original asking price and – in fact (I have since learned) 30% below its open-market value.

If you are interested in attending an auction check out www.veilingnotaris.nl . There are quite a few properties available all over the country.

Peter Gibney is a consultant with Strategies based in Dordrecht. Strategies are a fully licensed insurance broker/financial advisor specialising in the expatriate market. Any questions arising from this series of articles or other none related matters may be directed to Peter on [phone] 078 844 0879 or {fax} 084 751 2944 or {e-mail}

For reasons too complicated to go into here – and not entirely relevant to this article - I recently sold my house. I decided to buy myself a small apartment and looked on the Funda website to see what was available. I found one that sounded quite nice and called the makelaar who informed me I was too late as the apartment was being put up for auction. Having ascertained that the auction had not yet taken place I asked for details.

Apparently all auctions are in the hands of a notaries. I called the notaries and was informed that I was too late to make an offer but called me back the following day and said that I could make an offer.

I offered 10% below the original asking price and was turned down. But I was welcome to attend the auction which was to take place in a local hotel about a week later. By this time I had pretty much given up as I did not wish to pay much more and could not see how it would go for less than the offer I had already made.

How wrong can you be!!!

More out of curiosity than with any real intention of joining in I went along to the auction on the due date. It was clear to me that just about everybody else there was a makelaar! “Fat chance I have”, I thought. However the proceedings are amazing.

There a total of eight properties to be auctioned that evening and fortunately for me the one that I was interested in was number 5 on the schedule. Thus I was able to get a good look at the proceedings before I actually got involved.

The first part of the proceedings is a standard auction – called the “inzet” in Dutch. Starting from a ridiculously low price bid follows bid until all but one has dropped out. It was interesting to note that for each property only two or three of the makelaars actually joined in the bidding. I had the distinct impression that there was considerable collusion going on between the makelaars.

However this is not the end of the proceedings.

The next stage is called the “afslag” in Dutch. The auctioneer starts at a ridiculously high price and counts backwards until he reaches the original highest bid. Anybody in the room –whether the participated in the original auction or not - may call “Mijn” at any point during the process and, so long as that point is above the original highest bid, the person calling “Mijn” gets the property!

4 properties were auctioned before mine came on the table. I had no idea whether the previous ones had gone for a good price or not as I had done no previous research on those. I determined not to join in the standard auction reasoning that the makelaars would know I was not one of them and keep bidding just to up the price. Imagine my amazement, therefore, when the bidding stopped a further 20% below my original offer directly to the notaris. I was definitely going to join in the “afslag”.

It is actually quite nerve wracking. I definitely wanted the property but did not wish to pay more than was necessary. I eventually yelled “Mine” €2,000 above the original highest bid and am now happily ensconced in my new flat.

In 30 years living in this country it is the first time the system has worked in my favour. I acquired the flat for 20% less than the original asking price and – in fact (I have since learned) 30% below its open-market value.

If you are interested in attending an auction check out www.veilingnotaris.nl . There are quite a few properties available all over the country.

Peter Gibney is a consultant with Strategies based in Dordrecht. Strategies are a fully licensed insurance broker/financial advisor specialising in the expatriate market. Any questions arising from this series of articles or other none related matters may be directed to Peter on [phone] 078 844 0879 or {fax} 084 751 2944 or {e-mail}

This article has been submitted by Peter Gibney

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