When buying a home in the Netherlands, or any country for that matter, the best and easiest way to find your dream house is to take advice from an estate agent that is recognised by an association like the Dutch Association of Real Estate Agents (Nederlandse Vereniging van Makelaars/NVM). You can find a list of these estate agents and more information on their Dutch website (www.nvm.nl).
Take into account that an estate agent will charge you about 1.5% or 2% of the purchase price of the house, so you need to decide whether an agent’s know-how is worth the extra cost. However, using an agent will also give you less things to worry about, and more time to spend on other things you need to take care of when moving abroad.
Of course, you can always try to find a house yourself by looking in the classifieds of newspapers, magazines or the internet. You need to take into account that the properties listed in these classifieds are usually a few days older than the properties a real estate agent can offer you.
When you find a property you would like to view, you can make an appointment with an estate agent to see it. If you encounter any cracks or other irregularities, ask the agent or vendor what has happened. They are obligated by law to give you as much information as possible (they have a duty to inform you) and you have a duty to research anything that seems wrong.
Some things that you can check are the following:
- Whether all taps are running;
- Whether the heating system is working;
- Check light switches and how much light a room has when fully lit;
- See if the windows are double glass;
- Check if there are any cracks in the floor;
- Check the general condition of the kitchen;
- Check if there's mold in the bathroom (this could mean there’s bad ventilation in the house);
- Find out who the neighbors are;
- Look for shops and parking space nearby;
- Check if the garden is facing south (this will give you more sun which is quite important in the Netherlands);
- Check with the municipality whether there are any plans for the neighborhood that might reduce the pleasure of your new property.
Don’t forget to take pictures, so you can review all the properties you saw at a later time and compare them. It might be useful to make a checklist of all the qualities that you are looking for in a house and grade the property when you are viewing it.
What is a good price for a house?
If you want to find out if a certain house is worth its price, you can have a real estate agent do a professional evaluation of the house. This will give you the best and most accurate view of what it’s worth and you can use the report when you are applying for a mortgage.
You can also try to make an estimate for yourself by using these 3 methods:
- Check with the municipality for records on sales of houses in the same neighborhood and what the selling price was. You can also find out how much the previous owner of the house paid for it and then find out how much it would be worth today.
- Calculate the price per square meter and compare this to other houses in the same street or with other houses you are thinking of buying.
- View other houses in the same street or neighborhood and see what they have to offer for their price.
When determining what a good price is for a property, be aware that location is the most important factor! The better the neighborhood, the higher the price.
Next to location, you should also take into account the number of square meters, if there is a garden and how big it is. Note that furniture, fixtures and fittings are usually not included in the price. Make sure you check this.
When buying a house, especially older houses, it’s best to have a structural survey done. This will cost some money, but is generally worth the cost. Even though the vendor is obligated by law to tell you everything he knows about the property, there are always things left out, or flaws that the vendor does not know about.
There are several places you can go to have a structural survey done:
- Members of Vereniging Eigen Huis can have a visual survey done for about €225. (www.eigenhuis.nl)
- WoningSchouw has a large offer of different types of surveys, including a structural survey. (www.woningschouw.com)
Different organizations or businesses will have different conditions and qualities they check in a house, so be sure to compare and make sure you get what you want. Ask them for a quote and compare several surveyors. Make sure you know what is included in the survey. Usually you will be given a full report which includes a list of costs you might have when you try to repair a house.