Mooijekind Vleut Real Estate Agents - Buying a house in Amsterdam? 9 tips!

Knowledge center Buying a house in Amsterdam? 9 tips!

Buying a house in Amsterdam? 9 tips!

April 2024

Buying a house in Amsterdam: few listings, many bidders. How do you get your hands on that dream house? We’ll give you a head start with 9 tips.


1. First things first: start with a financial plan

Check in with an independent mortgage advisor to find out about your financial scope. How much can you lend? What about savings? How does €10.000 more affect your monthly mortgage payment? What if (major) renovations are needed? How will “erfpacht” affect your budget? How to go about temporary double charges? An independent financial advisor will help you tackle these issues, guide you through various scenarios and run calculations. 

Very helpful: now you’re certain about the price range for your search, how far your bidding range extends and what that means for your monthly payments later on. This certainty brings peace of mind! But just as important: it gives you a head start in the bidding process. A fully prepared buyer is an attractive party to do business with: certainty is exactly what a seller seeks. So it’s a good thing to be able to drop a reservation on financing when putting in the terms of your offer. Plus, it’s much easier not to have everything recalculated over €10.000 more. So invest time in the financial pre-work! We can connect you to our partner De Hypotheekshop Haarlem Centrum.

2. Get a good estate agent

Scrolling through Funda, viewing and bidding yourself? Of course you can. But especially in the Amsterdam housing market where the competition is exceptionally high, it is wise to hire a purchase broker. This specialist assists you during your search, looks at your future home from a constructional, legal and financial perspective and guides you through the bidding process.

Your broker will advise on strategy, negotiate terms, critically scrutinize the home and the purchase contract and walk you through the entire process up to the handover. That guarantees a purchase you won’t regret.

Important to note: a purchase broker at your side makes you a high-potential candidate for the seller. When the sales broker can work with a purchase broker it eases and accelerates the buying process.

3. Take stock of your housing needs and step outside your comfort zone

Your dream home. You can probably envision it. List what this house looks like. 4 bedrooms? Or 2 but with a study? A garden? 1930s? New? In Amsterdam-Zuid but definitely not in Noord or vice versa? And then ask yourself how likely it is that you will find exactly this house, in the right place, within your budget. Chances are you’ll have to make at least some concessions.

Ask yourself this question: what is truly important? Travel distance to work or family? Square meters or light? By the water or near o.v.? Distinguish requirements set in stone from real wants and nice-to-haves. Your buying agent will guide you through this thought process and will start a conversation on which concessions you’re willing to make and what is non-negotiable.

Next, take a look outside your comfort zone; allow yourself to be surprised. That means: open yourself up to unexpected suggestions. Grab a bike and take a tour of a neighborhood you hadn’t thought of yourself. Look at neighborhoods in development. Consider a DIY house in a nice area and seize the opportunity to refurbish and preserve a drafty old building. And vice versa: take a look at that spot-on house in an alternative location. What about that houseboat, that small but very charming property, that house with that boring facade but amazing garden. Dare to think out of the box!

4. Know how ‘erfpacht’ (ground lease) works

Ground lease: a hot topic in the Amsterdam housing market. What about it? When buying a property with ground lease, you buy the house itself but not the land beneath it. You pay ‘canon’ which is a fee for the right to use the land. In Amsterdam about 80% of the properties are on municipal land so it’s likely you’ll encounter ‘erfpacht’!

There are 3 forms of ground lease in Amsterdam: continual, perpetual and private. With continual leasehold, you pay ‘canon’ for a fixed period of time, usually 50, sometimes 75 years. After this timeframe, the amount of the ‘canon’ is redetermined. The new ‘canon’ will be adjusted to the market, usually your WOZ-price which means the charge will shoot up. You can pay annually or pay everything off at once.

With perpetual ground lease, the canon and conditions are set once and will not be adjusted over time except for the annual indexations. Again, you pay either annually or in 1 lump sum.

In the case of private ground lease, the land is owned by a private owner, not the municipality. This form of ground lease is difficult to finance. A seller must be in possession of a notarized “green” ground lease opinion in which the terms of the private ground lease are compared to those of the municipality.

You finance your ground lease along with your mortgage. Your mortgage provider will ask for the specifics. If a continual ground lease is bought off, then that is favorable for your application. If a period expires within the mortgage term, this may have implications for what you can spend on the house itself. So make sure you are well informed!

5. Be the first to know about new offers (preferably before Funda!)

New listings in Amsterdam are scarce. Quite scarce. So it is important that you are first in line. This will give you more time to consider your decision carefully and to make a diligent offer. Our tip: be on top of all new listings and don’t restrict yourself to Funda! Your buying agent has access to new listings before they are publicly shared on Funda. And real estate agents sometimes post their upcoming listings on social media. Keep an eye out for these accounts! Aside from Funda, Copaan is a great platform to work with. It is a smart, AI-driven platform that matches your housing wishes to new listings. Give it a try here.

6. Map out a clever bidding strategy!

Bidding on a house can be done in several ways; both the seller and the buyer have different options. That’s why your buying agent always inquires about the sales procedure during a viewing.

In hectic times, many sellers opt for an equal opportunity for all: bidding by tender. Before a set deadline, everyone must submit their bid. Everyone gets 1 chance. The seller then chooses one of the parties, without any further negotiation.

As a buyer, making a tactical bid is also an option: a so-called knock-out offer. A very good price with attractive conditions, often without any reservations on finance on a tight deadline after which the offer expires. It is a tactic that aims to pass all other interested parties and quickly entice the seller to grant you the house. Whether this is the right tactic depends on the situation. Plus: you will have to make sure your bid works for you as well… Get a purchase broker to inform you well if you consider making such a bold move!

The “old-fashioned” negotiation is also very common. You make an opening offer, the seller responds with a counter-proposal and you meet in the middle.

Every house, every seller, every buyer requires its own approach, its own strategy. Get good advice on this!

7. Delve into the contract of sale

Has your offer been accepted? Congratulations! Hold your breath a little longer: once everything has been signed by everyone and the official waiting days have expired, it is time to really celebrate! 

In Amsterdam the contract is drawn up by a notary and signed at their office. Once both parties have received the signed deed, you (as the buyer) will have 3 days to reflect on your decision. Once that period has passed, the purchase is final apart from any reservations on financing or architectural reports etc.

If you buy the house for buyer’s costs (k.k.), you pay and choose the notary. Your buying agent will nominate one or more notaries. The purchase contract will be circulated by mail for review prior to signing. Your buying agent will go through the document carefully. It is important that you are fully aware of what it includes, that the conditions are formulated correctly and that no information is missing or wrongly stated. Check, check, double check!

8. Request a structural inspection

At a first glance, the house looks great. But what’s behind the flooring, wallpaper and tiles? The seller has a duty to report any known defects. But as a buyer, you have a duty to investigate the house yourself: if something turns out to be wrong after the sale, you can’t recover damages if you haven’t done what you needed to. More importantly: you want a solid house and no surprises afterwards with high price tags.

With an architectural inspection, an expert researches the house and investigates for any hidden defect. Obviously your buying agent has already taken a good look, but a construction expert looks further and has the tools to do additional examinations, such as checking wiring. The inspector identifies issues and immediately states the cost of maintenance or repair and the urgency that comes with it. Your buying agent will organize this for you!

9. Persistence is key

With high competition and few listings, you will probably miss out on some opportunities. Even though all the preliminary work has been done and you’ve some concessions to broaden your search. That can be frustrating. For you, and everyone else. Some choose to trade Amsterdam for Haarlem, Heemstede or the Haarlemmermeer. Or move to Amstelveen, Buitenveldert. If you really want to live in Amsterdam and your budget allows for it: go for it, stay focussedl and keep on trying. It will take time and energy, yes. But the perseverer will win and find a lovely home in Amsterdam!

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