There’s no denying the appeal of Amsterdam. A metropolis. By all standards. Immensely popular to reside in, to work there, to live it, and to visit. So far, so good. But what if you want to move there and actually make it your home city – how on earth could you possibly make that happen? Because buying a house in Amsterdam has never been as much of a challenge as it is in the current residential market. A market that has completely dried up, featuring a ratio of offer and demand that is more crooked than it has ever been. House hunting in optima forma. Maurice van der Kroft, MVA Certified Expat Broker will tell you all about it.
Good hunting. Or is it?
‘Because it shouldn’t be. Because there’s alternatives. And good ones, at that. Just outside of city limits.’
Huge demand, hardly any offers
Indeed: the number of residential properties has decreased spectacularly. ‘Did you know, that at this time (July 2018), approximately 1,200 objects are for sale in Amsterdam? During the housing crisis there were over 10,000, not even including the residencies that could not be put up for sale due to a mortgage that was too high. The most recent calculations from the NVM/MVA (Q1 2018) show, moreover, that currently, some 58,000 people seek to buy a property in Amsterdam. An offer of 1,200 objects to satisfy 58,000 prospective buyers!’
So what are the odds of you succeeding in buying your dream-home?
‘Preferably at a decent price and beneficial conditions? For expats in particular this turns out to be quite the feat, since it’s not only the limited supply and the towering prices that make this difficult. Pressure on the procurement terms is increasing, as well. Cancellation clauses, architectural inspections, and commissioning: all of these factors are relevant as you make the most advantageous bid, one that nearly needs to ‘seduce’ buyers to go into business with you.’
A hard (G-)reality
‘Once they board the rollercoaster of buying an Amsterdam residence, many international buyers find out that everything ‘is in Dutch’ and other than ‘gezellig’ (cozy), Amsterdam hosts many more ‘hard G’s’, such as ‘erfpacht’ (emphyteusis, a form of leasehold) and ‘vereniging van eigenaren (VVE)’ (association of home owners). What exactly do these concepts mean, and which (financial) consequences do they entail for you, the buyer? It turns out that it’s of paramount importance to be well informed and properly prepared.’
House hunting in optima forma
‘Amsterdam, in any event, has been a city with a huge scarcity of property housing since time immemorial, because of its large amount of rental homes: approximately 75% of all residential housing in Amsterdam are rental homes (source: NRC, May 2017). This is completely disproportionate in comparison to the rest of the Netherlands. If anything, it shows the amount of duress that exists on the housing market. What’s more, the offer of larger (family-)homes is exceedingly small. Only 3% of the Amsterdam residences offers over 150 m2 (1,615 ft2) of habitable area (source: CBS, June 2018).
Many houses are sold even before they are released on the market and the selling time has significantly reduced to an average of 20 days. Well, as the Dutch so poignantly say: “You literally have to hail from a good House” if you wish to purchase your dream home. Knowing this, it’s only logical (as well as smart, but read on and find out why) that many house buyers expand their horizon. Usually, at first, only until just outside of the inner city, downtown city center. This area, however, is often rapidly expanded to a radius of some 20 to 30 minutes outside of the city.’
‘And why not? Or, more succinctly: why so?’
Hence, buying outside of Amsterdam
‘So you’re looking for something within half an hour of Amsterdam. A pleasant place to live, alone or with your family, and naturally you’ll have a nice range of (living-)demands on your list. Provisions such as shops and schools and a decent (and fast) connection to your work are, of course, the default. This process I’ve recently encountered first hand.’
How much is 20 minutes, really?
‘In my case, my search went from Castricum, through Hilversum, Abcoude, Nigtevecht and Weesp to Muiden, where by now, we’ve acquired our dream home. Coming from Muiden I reach my office at the Weesperzijde within 20 minutes. Let me ask you: how much is 20 minutes, really? If we compare distances in the Amsterdam region with those of other European cities such as London, Paris, or Barcelona, we’re actually quite spoiled. In London, people, on average, travel somewhere from at least 45 minutes to an hour to get to work. That really is the most common thing in the world.’
Living in the metropolitan area of Amsterdam
‘Keeping that small fact in the back of your mind, you’ll find there are really quite a lot of undiscovered treasures in this so-called ‘metropolitan area’ of Amsterdam. These surrounding boroughs have a great deal to offer for the housing seekers, be they expats or not. Alternatives in the outlying areas that are truly worthwhile for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is being able to live there cheaper, or to obtain much, much more while spending the very same amount.’
Buying in in Amsterdam or in Nigtevecht?
‘Here’s two examples to demonstrate what you’d buy in Amsterdam, and next what you’d buy just outside of Amsterdam at a similar asked price.’
‘Right in the center of the popular Zuidas, at the Leo Smitstraat, you’d buy an urban villa measuring 154 m2 (1,658 ft2) with a 21 m2 patio (226 ft). An ideal family home with two bathrooms and three bedrooms, spread over two floors, boasting a sunny water-side patio.’
‘At a mere 20 minutes from this very same Amsterdam Zuidas, in Nigtevecht, the oldest Vecht-bordering village, you buy a splendid detached house, measuring 261 m2 (2,809 ft2) on a plot of a whopping 734 m2 (7,901 ft). Living with ‘the green heart’ as your backyard is possible at the Klompweg 6-D.’
‘Amsterdam versus Nigtevecht? It’s up to you.’
Living outside of Amsterdam as it was meant to be
‘According to the current owner of the Klompweg estate, it’s really quite clear: ‘Each and every day, you truly come home, over here. A delightful place where, after a day of working in the city, you can enjoy the peace and quiet, space, the greenery, and water all around. On top of that, it’s a smart buy as it’s really a lot of house and grounds for your pay.’
Many expats already chose the outlying areas
‘The metropolitan area of Amsterdam already houses some 110,000 expats, 50,000 of whom reside in Amsterdam. So the vast majority lives outside of the capital. A good as well as a smart choice, since that’s where the houses and (international) schools can be found.’
‘Buying a house just outside of the Amsterdam city limits: that’s why.’
KNAP EXPAT Broker is an initiative of the KNAP Real Estate Agency, and a member of the MVA Certified Expat Brokers. Its core business is to offer consultation throughout the entire process of buying or selling a house in the Amsterdam region.
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