Buying a property in the Netherlands 

Hi, here's my quick start guide to buying a property in the Netherlands.

I'm working on a more extensive guide, but that's not completed yet.


Are you allowed to buy a property in the Netherlands?
Yes, foreigners are allowed to buy property in the Netherlands.

Finding a property to buy in the Netherlands
You'll find properties online through websites that are Dutch only.

If you can't read Dutch, you'll need a real estate agent to assist you. Not only while searching, but to help during the rest of the process as well.

Financing a property
Most people finance their house with a mortgage. 

Your mortgage will be arranged after the provisional sale contract is signed. This doesn't mean you have to wait. Start now. 

Be sure to prepare your mortgage. Go to your bank or intermediary. Discover how much you can borrow and against which terms. This will give you a clear idea of how much you can spend on a house. 

Real estate agents
It's possible to buy without any help in the Netherlands. The seller's real estate agent gets paid by the seller. So no extra fees there. Be aware, the seller's agent will only look after the seller's interests. 

You may decide to search and/or negotiate using a buying real estate agent. You'll pay for his services yourself. Prices differ wildly and you're allowed to negotiate the fee of the real estate agent. Expect to pay somewhere in the range of one to two percent (ex VAT) of the property price.  

When you're going to buy through a buying real estate agent, you'll have to sign a contract. This contract is exclusive. So you'll pay the agent, even if another agent brings the property to your attention.

Get to know (the value of) the real estate
Investigate the real estate you're buying. You'll want to know the structural condition,  prices of recently sold comparable objects, possible problems of the house, neigbours, surrouding area etc.

Buyers of a property have an obligation to investigate. Legally this has to do with limiting the risks.

Example: Old houses in Amsterdam are build on top of wooden poles. These poles may be damaged by the fluctuation in underground water levels. If that's the case, repairing the poles will cost a lot of money. When you didn't investigate, you'll have to pay for the repairs. When you did investigate, you would have been aware of this problem. And buy the house for less, or didn't buy at all.  

Making an offer
In the Netherlands, you're allowed to make an offer yourself. Be sure to include price, date of transfer, escape clauses and anything else that's important to you. 

When you're making an offer, you're trying to start negotiations. 

Negotiations involving real estate have their own rules in the Netherlands.

Be sure to know what you're doing, as offers may be binding. 

If you're not clear on this, get the help of a buying real estate agent.

When your offer is accepted
Once your offer is accepted the formal steps towards property transfer are: 

  1. Buyer and seller sign a pre-sale agreement.
  2. Buyer has a legally mandated three day cooling off period.  
  3. Buyer completes his investigations.
  4. The buyer arranges the mortgage he requires. This may include getting an appraisal.
  5. The signed contract will be transferred to and held by a notary.
  6. The buyer deposits some money, usually ten percent of the price. This will be held by the notary too.
  7. Buyer and seller sign a completion contract.
  8. The notary registers the property transfer at the land registry office. This completes the process.

Specific legal requirements
A notary must perform the property registration process. 

When you're not a Dutch citizen, an accredited translator is required at the notary meetings. Even if you understand Dutch really well. And you'll have to pay for it too.

Sales fees and charges

  • The fee of the notary is negotiable. It will vary and may be a percentage of the property price, a per-hour charge or a fixed fee. Find an inexpensive notary here
  • An accredited translator will cost you around two hundred euros.  
  • In the Netherlands, it is common to have both a buyer's agent and a seller's agent. The seller's estate agent fees will be paid by the seller, all other fees are typically handled by the buyer.

Budget approximately 7 percent of the purchase price for fees and charges. This breaks down to:

  • Transfer tax currently at two percent
  • Legal fees around one  to one and a half percent
  • Registration fees one to one and a half percent
  • Estate agent fee one to two percent

Make sure to calculate the fees including value added tax (currently twenty one percent).  


Pre-sale agreement

The pre-sale agreement states all of the agreements and obligations, derived from the negotiations.

Dutch real estate agents make use of a standardized contract.

It includes all the basic clauses such as property details, liens and encumbrances, penalty clauses.

Other necessary clauses will be added. Think of escape clauses on mortgage and building inspection, and all other clauses you can think of.

And finally a list of movables (such as carpets, light fittings and other appliances) will be added. 

Completion contract
The completion contract is the one that's necessary to transfer the ownership of a property.

You will sign it at the notary's office the day you become owner.

The completion contract is based on the pre-sale agreement.

And Now?

That's it. The quick start on how to buy a house in the Netherlands.

Want to read the extended version? Go here.

Hope this helps.

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