Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve noticed that the sad impact of the coronavirus pandemic hits home on all aspects of life. It’s bound to have a significant effect on the housing market in the Netherlands too, and then there’s the personal question if now is still the right time to buy a house in the Netherlands.
If social isolation (or live under the aforementioned rock) has taught us anything, it is that a good home is the second most important thing in life. Number one, of course, is to #WashYourHands.
I had a long and interesting chat with Henk Jansen, the founder of our friends at Expat Mortgages, on the good, the bad and the ugly of buying a house in the Netherlands in this day and coronavirus age.
The chat was, of course, a digital meeting, with a lot of ‘Can you hear me Henk!?’ and cats intervening. But it was a good one too since from the comfort of our homes we could reflect on some meaningful points in life, the housing situation and how coronavirus paints a different picture for everybody considering buying a house in the Netherlands.
|We teamed up with Expat Mortgages to bring you this article. Many of our readers had questions about this important choice in their lives so it made sense to touch upon a few of the aspects that come into play when you’re deciding if you want to buy a house in the Netherlands. If you have anything to add or have questions, you’re welcome in the comments or contact Expat Mortgages directly.|
Coronavirus and buying a house: things have changed, but not everything
Q: There’s no denying it, these are turbulent times and whether you should be buying a house now is different for everybody. What’s your perspective?
This has all been a shock and has had an impact on everybody. But buying a house shouldn’t be a spur of the moment thing, so that kind of changes our perspective. And perhaps for the housing market in the Netherlands, it isn’t the worst thing since it was pretty much overheating and could have used a cool-down period anyway. Perhaps there can be an end to all that overbidding and such. But of course, it’s mostly a personal question.”
Your personal situation and buying a house
Q: What are the biggest personal issues for your clients right now then? Besides coronavirus, what questions do they have?
“First of all, besides coronavirus and the way the Netherlands is handling it, it’s important to remember that, in general, this is a pretty stable and prosperous country. If you have an indefinite contract and you’re not into the event or travel industry you can count on having a job in the foreseeable future.”
“Many internationals might not be sure about staying here now, but sadly, things aren’t that much better in most other countries as well. And I’m a positive man — although things might look pretty bleak at the moment, new opportunities and perspectives will be there on the horizon as well.”
After coronavirus, a different perspective
Q: Tell me more about the positive stuff you see in the future (because we really need to hear about some of that now!)
“You can already see right now that this digital meet-up is just as good a regular one, but less time-consuming as there is no travel involved. People everywhere are noticing that those meetings really could have been just emails and that’s here to stay.”
“I’m convinced that in the long run, our perspectives will change too. Now we’re seeing travel and event companies go bankrupt and it’s all bad news. But the Dutch economy has always been one that can adjust, and other companies will be born from this crisis and prosper in the future — such is life.”
Crisis is an opportunity, companies founded in 2008/2009:
— Davide Dattoli (@davidedattoli) March 8, 2020
“I’m also personally set on enjoying life as much as possible when this is over and I’m expecting others to do the same, so this might all hit hard and deep but the economy will rebound in a shorter time than the previous crisis.”
“And, again, this undeniably terrible time also shows the importance of having a nice house. An actual home for you and your family is making all of this all more bearable and that’s something to consider for the future as well.”
How about the technical stuff when it comes to buying a house? Interest rates and housing availability?
Q: I saw that the interest rates were going up? How will that evolve?
“Normally, in a crisis, interest rates will go down — but they’re already at a historic low. And the hike in the interest rates is tiny, 0.05%, which I suspect is just for the banks to cover all the extra costs they’re having because of this crisis.”
“The longer this all will take the more banks will increase the interest rate, but in return, you can also expect prices to stall a bit or actually decrease. The silver lining here is that the government won’t fiddle with the mortgage interest rate deduction in these turbulent times — well, they shouldn’t at least.”
Q: So housing prices might decrease? And won’t there be many more available houses now?
“Housing prices might be a bit lower in the long run, but I don’t expect huge price drops. There’s still going to be a shortage of houses in the Netherlands, simply because there were many many people looking for one. And while it might scare off some investors and people with uncertain job perspectives, you also have to keep in mind that the whole building sector is on its back as well and almost no houses are being built at this moment too.”
“In the end, again, if you’re here for the long run and you need a home, buying a house is still a good move for most folks. We all need a place to live, and now we need a place to live for a prolonged period of time with your family and work from home.”
Thinking of buying a house?
Get in touch with Expat Mortgages to discuss your options.
Q: Speaking of working from home, how are day to day things going for Expat Mortgages? Still working?
“It’s a challenge for us too, but we were kind of lucky because of the nature of our business. Many meetings with clients were already taking place digitally because all these internationals travel a lot, well, they used to. All the paperwork and contact with mortgage lenders was also from a distance and digital in the last years.”
“At Expat Mortgages we’ve also used the past period to fine-tune some of our essential processes with our business partners. At this moment digital identification is possible, so less physical contact, and a digital signature is also accepted by most of our business partners (banks).”
“Our advisors are still available for any possible meeting, besides the physical ones. And it’s still possible to get a mortgage as any other day, rules haven’t changed, yet. But it’s also not business as usual because the human toll of it all is a terrible thing. Not only the loss of life of course but also because we’ve got clients from Spain and Italy, we’re trying to help them as best as we can.”
“Everybody is concerned about this and has their own private story to cope with, and when it comes to that, we can only hope for the best and stay safe and positive.”
Expat Mortgages will keep on providing free information through their webinars. Their Housing Workshops are available at least once a week (check their website for registration) and their Expat Housing Seminar is now an Expat Housing Webinar —first session on April 21. Don’t forget to register!
Were you planning on buying a house in the Netherlands? How do you see the housing market in the Netherlands develop over time? Have your life plans been altered by coronavirus? Tell us in the comments below!
Note: The information on this page is for general information only. You should consider seeking legal, financial, mortgage, taxation, and/or other advice to check how this relates to your unique circumstances.
Feature Image: DutchReview/Canva