“Knowing about the local housing market is one thing. Making it accessible to an international resident is another.”
“There is no such thing as an expat”. Eric Liefveld, our expat-focused real estate agent in Heemstede, wants to make that clear before discussing how he and his team help international residents buy a home.
“An expat could be a family of six with a German mother and a Scottish father living in Dubai, who want to settle somewhere near Amsterdam to be closer to their families. It could be a young couple from India living in a rented flat in Haarlem who, with their first baby on the way, want to put down roots close to their workplace in Haarlemmermeer.” And, he points out: “Everything in between.”
“Close to the city”
The first step in finding the perfect home for an expatriate is to understand his or her background: “When you buy a house, you’re obviously focused on the new adventure, the new life. But it is important for us to understand where you are coming from and why you have decided to move and settle here. What kind of housing and lifestyle you were used to and what your plans are for the future. We take the time to understand that.”
How does this help the process? Eric says: “We need to know how to interpret your housing preferences. If someone wants to live “very close to the city”, a Londoner might mean an hour’s commute, a Parisian half an hour… Or if someone from Mombai mentions that their previous house was “fancy”. Are we talking about an apartment with a gym and an indoor swimming pool? Standards are different all over the world; it’s very important to make sure you’re on the same page.”
Being local vs. helping someone become local
It’s no surprise that expat brokers need additional skills. Aside from the cultural aspect, there is the language element and the need to be familiar with expatriate-related legislation or mortgage requirements. For this reason, Mooijekind Vleut has appointed an expert with a specific focus on international buyers for each of its offices in Amsterdam, Haarlem, Haarlemmermeer and Heemstede-Aerdenhout.
“I believe it is very important to be able to put local knowledge into the right context,” adds Eric. “Knowing everything about the local housing market is one thing, but being able to make it accessible to someone with a different background is another.” There are many aspects to contextualise about neighbourhoods, types of housing, differences between cities, etc.
Eric gives a few examples: “Families in Amsterdam often live in apartments, while families in Heemstede are used to two-storey houses with large backyards. Being able to park in front of the house is actually unique in most parts of Haarlem, but a few miles further in Haarlemmermeer you can easily find a house with a private driveway. This is common knowledge for anyone who has grown up here, but impossible to know otherwise. It’s up to us to know exactly what to point out to you!”
The same goes for the process. “Buying a house isn’t easy. There’s a lot to think about, a lot of steps to take and a lot of factors to consider. We know all about it. We guide people through the process every day.”
A house should be a home and a sound investment. Eric says: “Maybe you want to keep it and rent it out to someone else when you move on. We take that into account and advise on both short and long term options. Our strategies are tried and tested; we’ve written them down in step-by-step guides and clear timetables. And, don’t worry, all in English too!”
Heemstede: the best in the Amsterdam region
Eric is the international face of Heemstede: “This is my home town. I grew up here, studied in Haarlem, moved back immediately and settled with my own family. I like to say that Heemstede offers the best of everything our region has to offer. You can enjoy all the culture, cuisine and fun that Amsterdam and Haarlem have to offer AND live close to the sea with more privacy, greenery and space around you.”
Add to that the easily accessible international school in Haarlem, the easy commute to Schiphol, the growing international community… And last but not least, the beautiful houses: “Heemstede is becoming more and more popular. Come and have a look. We’ll be happy to show you around!”