Buying a house

You’ve decided to make your relationship with the city even more official by buying a house. Congratulations! It is a very big step, but one that many Dutch people are also making at this time.

Housing prices are relatively low compared to other large European cities, and interest rates are extremely stable, so now is a very attractive time to buy a house in your new home city.

Finding your house

The most common way to find a house that suits your wish list is via the Funda website. This national housing aggregator lets you apply lots of different filters: how many rooms, if you want a balcony or garden, your preferred price category and more. You can also create a Funda account (which is free) and set up an alert based on your preferences, which will notify you when properties you’d like to view become available.

Viewings

Most estate agents show properties for sale during business hours on Monday to Friday, but some will be happy to help you during evening hours. A viewing takes around 15 minutes. Several times a year, there are ‘public viewing days’ (openhuisdagen) where you can view participating properties on a Saturday. It is a nice way to see multiple properties in a single day.

Two types of estate agents

There are two different types of estate agents involved in housing sales: a buying estate agent (aankoopmakelaar) and a selling estate agent (verkoopmakelaar). To buy a property, you can opt to hire a buying estate agent. They will organise the paperwork for purchase and the technical survey of your property for you, arrange appointments for you if you want to see multiple properties, or if you want to see a property multiple times. This comes with a fixed fee that you agree with your estate agent and is well worth it if you are not comfortable with your level of fluency in Dutch.

Translation needed

It is required by law that you understand the documents you are signing (and with good reason, since you’re buying a house). You will need to hire an official translator to translate the papers if you are not comfortable with legal Dutch language. Some notary firms have translators on staff, while others will be able to recommend a competent professional.

Step list

Below you will find a step list of the full house-buying process. Although we can’t fully eliminate any surprises, following this list will limit the unexpected when buying your new home.

  1. Get a mortgage estimate.
    In the Netherlands, four times your annual salary is the common maximum mortgage amount. Be aware of your budget.
  2. Find your ideal place.
    Be ready to go and look at possible houses; the market moves fast. Check appropriate websites like funda.nl, set up an alert and get in contact with a buying estate agent. Arrange your first viewing by calling the selling estate agents.
  3. Preliminary investigations.
    You have found your dream home in your budget and maybe viewed it and visited the neighbourhood a few times. Now it is important to check if no major repairs need to be made that are not visible to a casual viewer; major work on the house, such as the roof or the foundations, can seriously raise your costs. If you buy an apartment, you will become part of the homeowners’ association (vereniging van eigenaren or VVE); the members in the building split major structural costs like roof repairs, but you may have to wait until the other members can contribute. Therefore, it is a good idea to know if you will need to pay these costs, and how much. This will be shown in a technical survey of the property. A buying estate agent will arrange this for you and review the results to see if it might affect your bid for the house.
  4. Make a bid.
    Making a bid can be done directly or through your buying estate agent. Once the bid has been accepted by the seller, both parties have a three-day ‘cooling off’ period. The bid process may also include conditions that must be met before signing the mortgage. For example, if you have made an offer for an amount, the sellers may be willing to accept your offer, but only on the condition you wait several months before you move in. This will be part of the official bid. If you hear nothing from the other party within that three-day period, and do not notify the other party that you want to withdraw your offer, then your bid has been officially accepted.
  5. Arranging your documents.
    At this stage, you will need to get all of your official documents, mortgage, insurance policies (building insurance/life insurance) and official translations arranged. This paperwork is required for the deed transfer to occur. Make sure you read the fine print in the contract very carefully, and ask for advice if anything is unclear to you.
  6. Transfer the money.
    Make sure you have transferred the money to the correct bank account. Your mortgage advisor will tell you the best way to make the transfer, and where you need to transfer it to.
  7. Sign the deed of sale at the notary’s office.
    On an agreed day, you will sign the papers at the notary’s office. The notary will review all the paperwork with you to make sure you understand all of it (either in Dutch or in an official English translation of the original Dutch documents).
  8. Congratulate yourself and move in.
    We wish you all the best in your new house in Rotterdam!

We strongly recommend that you take out a home insurance policy (opstalverzekering), which covers damage to your home. Home insurance means that you are covered if your home is damaged by external factors beyond your control, such as damage by fire, water or storm. Please note that home insurance only covers the external and internal structure of your home. If you would also like to insure the contents of your home (furniture, appliances and so on) against fire and theft, you will need to arrange a separate household insurance policy (inboedelverzekering). Your bank and most Dutch insurance companies offer home insurance and household insurance.