How to Get Your Bid Accepted on a Property in the Netherlands

| IamExpat

House prices are rising, and there are more people who want a home than there are available properties. This means there is often stiff competition for houses on the market, with each attracting multiple bids, but – with the right strategy – it is still possible to find your dream place in the Netherlands. 

Is it worth buying a house in the Netherlands?

If you are planning to stay in the country for at least three to five years, it is definitely worth buying, according to the founder of Expat Mortgages, Henk Jansen. 

Rental prices are high and are still going up. Meanwhile, a proposal to restrict the amount many landlords can charge is leading to a steady trickle of new properties coming onto the market - with rental experts predicting more to come from July 2024. 

How to go about buying a property in the Netherlands

“The most important thing is preparation,” says Henk. “Without preparation, you don’t stand a chance. Make an appointment with a mortgage advisor, and make sure that you have a complete file so you can see what amount you can go up to. That’s priority number one.”

With so much competition on the housing market, Expat Mortgages is seeing that some people are bidding on a house without making use of two important conditions - having a property survey done and putting in place a financial clause - with the intention of making themselves seem like the most attractive buyer, and getting the sale through as quickly as possible.

However, Expat Mortgages advises against this approach. Getting a property survey (bouwtechnische keuring) is crucial because as a buyer you have an obligation to investigate what you are buying, otherwise you cannot hold the seller legally responsible for any problems they have failed to disclose.

Putting in place a financial clause (voorbehoud van financiering) is also important. It means that if you fail to raise a mortgage for the agreed price before the exchange date, you can pull out without incurring a 10 percent fine.

How to bid securely and successfully

Instead of skipping these two protections, Henk explains that there are two ways of making your offer seem more attractive without taking such a big risk.  

The first is a new kind of insurance called “bidding with security”. Under this agreement, an insurance company agrees to pay the 10 percent penalty if for any reason you cannot secure a mortgage and have to pull out of the sale. Henk explains: “Estate agents accept this extra security because they can tell their sellers: if this deal doesn’t go through, we can claim the 10 percent, so it is basically replacing the financing condition.” 

Having bidding insurance is one way of increasing the chance of your bid being accepted. 

Another option is what is known as a pre-approval, offered by brokers such as Expat Mortgages - which has helped thousands of expats to buy a home in the Netherlands and has strong relationships with mortgage lenders. 

“As in the UK, we bring the approval part earlier into the process,” Henk says. “We make sure the client is pre-approved, looking at their financial situation, income, assets and credit history so that the only uncertain part is the property itself and whether the house is really worth it. We can sort that out [with an official valuation] in the three-day thinking time and then we pretty much have 100 percent security.”

Expat Mortgages, he says, has a good relationship with various banks due to its record of working with quality clients with a very low risk of default. This pre-approval process means people can make a good offer. You as the buyer become more attractive to the seller as they know you will almost certainly secure mortgage financing. 

You can then take advantage of the three days of legal thinking time you have after the sales contract (koopcontract) is signed. After that comes the period in which the mortgage is raised – hopefully, successfully – and then you carefully inspect the property, sign the leveringsakte and walk away with the keys.

Working with a property agent

Another thing for house hunters to consider very seriously is employing a buying agent - even though they will typically charge you anything between a fixed amount and 2 percent of the purchase price. A sales agent, says Henk, may look more kindly on your offer if you have a professional representative.

“Without a buying agent, you almost don't have a chance of buying,” he says. “Maybe you think that the added value of a buying agent is not that big, because you can find a property yourself online, but we see that selling agents would rather sell to another professional buying agent than to somebody who doesn’t have a buying agent.”

Especially with properties at the lower or average end of the housing market - which are driving the increase in prices - you may well be in a queue and may have to put in many bids on a number of houses before you are successful. 

Think carefully about whether the price you’re paying is worth it

This doesn’t mean that you should throw caution to the wind, of course: if the government’s house-building mission works and population growth slows, then the pressure on housing will decrease, affecting the prices. Some properties in the Netherlands have risks linked to climate change, such as sinking foundations and flooding, so do your homework carefully.

However, average prices are back at the post-pandemic peak of 2022, even though mortgage interest rates are much higher at this moment. “We have to build houses!” says Henk. “We have a lot of potential buyers, there’s a lot of demand so we need more, otherwise the price will go up even further. You need to be well prepared, you need to offer the seller some kind of security and you need to know: it is going to take time.”

Expat Mortgages can guide you through the whole process, giving you the greatest possible chance of having your bid accepted.