Bidding on a house in the Netherlands: how to win

Given the fact that housing prices are soaring across the Netherlands, it’s no surprise that many hopeful homeowners have had to up their bidding game. And let’s be clear: it’s not as simple as “bid the highest amount.”

There are three main stages involved in winning yourself that bid and with each stage comes a number of important steps. Here’s how to get that bid to glitter in the eyes of the seller! 🤩 

We wanted to bring you the best tips on bidding on a Dutch home so we headed to the experts: Melissa Zahaf and Arjen Hardesmeets over at Expat Mortgage Platform to find out how to win your bid on a house in the Netherlands. 

Stage one: preparing to bid on a house

As soon as you’ve laid your eyes on your dream home, you need to prepare your bid — and fast. In the current climate, it takes an average of just 24 days for a house to come on and back off the market — and that includes waiting around for the paperwork! 

So, how can you prepare your winning bid? There are three details you need to know: 

  • Your borrowing power, 
  • Your resolutive conditions, and 
  • The true value of the house. 

What does all that mortgage lingo mean? Simple: 

Know your borrowing power

Before you go ahead and lay your cards on the table, you need to know what’s in your deck — that’s obvious. If you spot the home of your dreams, it is best that you know just how much borrowing power you have. 

The best way to determine this is by reaching out to a mortgage broker. They will take a look at your current situation and factor in a number of details about you (for example, do you have a permanent or temporary contract? Do you have student loans?) Based on these factors, a mortgage broker will tell you what borrowing power you have in the Netherlands. 

READ MORE | Can you get a mortgage in the Netherlands as an international? With college debt? Or as a freelancer?

The experts over at Expat Mortgage Platform offer a helpful mortgage calculator to give you an idea of your potential mortgage. If you’d like to know more about this, they also offer no-strings-attached free mortgage consultations. 

Know what resolutive conditions you want

The next step is to determine your resolutive conditions. Put simply, these are conditions that protect you as a buyer. 

For example, you may make a bid with the resolutive condition that the property will pass a building inspection. This way, if the building inspection unearths something unexpected or costly — like unstable foundations or the need for a new roof — you have a chance to say “We don’t want that house anymore.” And poof! Your contract can be terminated. 

Photo-of-couple-discussing-bid-on-Dutch-home-with-mortgage-consultant
In order to make a bid on a house in the Netherlands, you need to know your resolutive conditions. Image: Goodluz/Depositphotos

When you make an offer on a house, these conditions are part of the offer and will be considered by the seller. The seller might choose to accept a lower bid if that lower bid has less conditions attached — so it’s important to know which resolutive conditions are important to you. Some could include: 

  • Finance (Financiering): the sale will not go ahead if you can’t secure your mortgage before a certain date. 
  • National Mortgage Guarantee (Nationale Hypotheek Garantie, NHG): the sale will be void if you don’t qualify for the NHG.
  • Building inspection outcome (Uitkomst bouwkundige keuring): you can back out if the condition of the house is worse than expected.
  • Permission or permit from the municipality (Toestemming of vergunning gemeente): the contract is cancelled if you can’t get the permit to build that extra floor or add on a shed.

Let op! If you change your mind about buying a house after signing a contract with the seller you could be charged 10% of the sale price — unless you have a way out through your resolutive conditions.

Know the actual value of the house

Before you go ahead and jump at a house, It’s important to know the difference between the market value and the actual value of a property before you bid on it. For example, you can check: 

  • The WOZ value of the property — the WOZ value of a property is determined by the municipality and is based on a number of factors such as the market value and the features of the house. You can request the WOZ value of a house using this website.
  • The value of similar properties — You can determine this by checking the price at which similar properties in the region were sold for. A mortgage realtor will also have good knowledge of this.
  • The value of the property to you — As with anything, you have to take a moment and look inwards. The property may be a bit overpriced for some — but if it’s your dream home, it’s your dream home and perhaps you are willing to pay above market value. 

Unfortunately, once you do determine the real value of a property you may find that the seller is actually asking wayyy above the real value of the home — even for 2021’s housing market. This is why it’s important to question the asking price before you make your bid. 

How much should I overbid on a house?

Due to a relentless housing crisis, overbidding is very common in the Netherlands at the moment. Hopeful homeowners often overbid by €30-60,000 — yikes.

However, it’s important to note that this is not ALWAYS necessary. It’s best to speak to a makelaar or mortgage broker for advice when making this decision.

Stage two: making a bid on your potential Dutch home

The prospect of saying goodbye to your precious savings in a bid to win a bid can make anyone nervous — and realtors know it. Keep your cool and remember to be tactical. There are a number of ways that you can do this: 

Don’t bid it all at first — leave room for negotiation

Before you ask, yes, most people bid well above the asking price — but this doesn’t mean you should bid everything you have at once. 

Often, the bidding process involves your first bid (the opening offer) and then a counter bid from the seller. Don’t place all your money on the table in the first round or else the seller may get the impression that you have even more to give. 

Don’t be too enthusiastic 

You may have fallen in love with the property the moment your eyes landed on it but it’s important you don’t show this to the realtor — if they have that leverage, they will use it to raise the asking price. 

Take your time when considering a counter-offer 

When the seller counteroffers, you need to take a moment — a decently long one — to consider it. Again, you don’t want to lay all your cards on the table by responding too quickly. And a rash decision may lead to you paying more ultimately.

Step three: prove that you are the best bidder for your Dutch home

In this market, you are not going to stand out based on the single fact that you’re an interested buyer — there will be many like you. How can you let the seller know that you are their best option? It’s not as simple as bidding the highest amount. 

Find a way to stand out from the crowd

There’s a lot of competition for homes, and while money speaks, houses can also be sentimental — so think of how you can stand out! Are you planning to have foster children in your potential home? Do your elderly parents live on the same street? Have you dreamed of living on that street forever? Writing an accompanying letter can be a great idea.

Let the seller know that you are prepared 

If you’re selling a house, who would you prefer to sell to: the person who has been to the bank and knows they’ll get approved for the mortgage, or the person who hasn’t?

Photo-of-couple-discussing-bidding-on-house-in-Netherlands-with-selling-realtor
Make it clear to the seller that you are a prepared bidder. Image: photography33/Depositphotos

If you can let the seller know that, not only are you interested — you also have everything in order and can finance the bid — you’ll be a favourable candidate in their eyes. 

Meet the seller’s wishes if you can 

This seems like an obvious point, but the negotiations will go down a lot smoother if you can take on any extra conditions that the seller may have given. For example, does the seller really want to sell now but stay in the house for another six months? Do they prefer to sell to someone who will also buy the piano that’s on the second floor? If you can deal with it, this could make you more favourable over someone who is bidding higher but will only buy on their own terms. 

Clarify, clarify and close

Once you are happy with the conditions and the counter-offer it’s time for you to clarify EVERYTHING and seal the deal. 

The last thing you want is a miscommunication between you and the seller. Make sure to send an email and confirm with the selling realtor that your bid has been accepted. Also, ensure that the conditions of the sale are laid out clearly so that there is no room for confusion. 

Note: In the Netherlands, the process of buying a house involves a “cooling off period.” This is the three day period after you sign the papers and officially buy a house. 
If you decide within this period that you no longer want to buy the house, that’s no problem. You can pull out without paying a cent — or even giving a reason! 
The cooling off period lasts from midnight of the date you receive the papers, to within three working days later.

Remember, we’re all human at the end of the day. Your cooperation and preparation will not only help your bid but also your relationship with the seller — and that shouldn’t be taken for granted! 

Once you have clarified and established an understanding between you and the seller, you can sit back, pop some bubbly and look forward to a future in your new house. 

Ready to tackle the housing market and win that bid? Expat Mortgage Platform are the experts when it comes to buying a house in the Netherlands as an international. Contact them now for free advice and the best bidding tips! 

Have you ever bid on a house in the Netherlands? Tell us about your experience in the comments below! 

Feature Image: Fizkes/Depositphotos

Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions — she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.

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