10 steps to getting a mortgage and buying a house in the Netherlands for expats

Sure you’re all up-to-date on the latest developments for those wanting to buy a house in the Netherland. But how about the basic things for those internationals looking for that dreamy Dutch house and a (somewhat less dreamy) mortgage?

I’m talking about basic things such as:

  • How do you place an offer on a house?
  • What do you do when your offer is accepted?
  • What kind of paperwork is involved in buying a Dutch home?

Buying a house in the Netherlands is that grown-up stuff that even Dutchies struggle with. Everybody can use some help with that — especially you internationals (your head must be spinning when you hear words as bouwtechnische keuring).

This is technical stuff at times, so we teamed up with the experts at Expat Mortgages to tell you all about the basic steps for getting started and buying a house as an international. This time around Kenneth Leenders was the go-to-know-everything-about-mortgages-person who helped me out!

So if you need to know more then this article tells you, get in touch with Expat Mortgages and they will gladly help you along – no strings attached!

Here’s what you’re in for when you want to get a Dutch mortgage as an expat.

Step 1: Should you buy a house in the Netherlands?

Why buy when you can rent you might ask? Well, as so often is the answer: money. But that’s not the only thing that matters.

“Obviously, it’s important to find out with what you feel the most comfortable with and if it is a good idea for you personally to buy a house in the Netherlands,” explains Kenneth Leenders from Expat Mortgages.

“But if you have kids and plan on staying here for a while it’s often a good idea, financially at least, to buy a house.”

Buying versus renting in the Netherlands

It’s also simple economics; rent for most houses in the Netherlands is higher (way higher) than mortgage payments for Dutch houses.

And then there’s the fact that rent payments are gone forever, but mortgage payments let you end up actually owning a house after 30 years. Or you know, own a part of the house after you sell it again.

The other most important factors are the low interest rates at the moment. “That means the monthly payments are lower as well and that can save you hundreds of euros per month,” said Kenneth. “Rental prices will increase each year but your mortgage payments will stay the same.”

So sure, that €800-900 mortgage payment per month may now look the same as the rental price, but in 10 years that will be peanuts compared to future rental prices (unless you’re thinking that Amsterdam and Utrecht rents are going down in the coronavirus-free future — we’re not).

Buying a house as an expat in the Netherlands

Buying a house in the Netherlands might not be the right thing for everybody though. If you expect to move to a different country one to two years from now, it’s probably not the best idea. Part of the reason for that is that you have to invest some of your own money when you buy a house, and you might just lose that money if you need to sell in the short term.

But if you’re planning to stay here for a couple of years (and you know, care about your money like the rest of the world), buying a house in the Netherlands may just be the smart thing to do as an international.

Step 2: Have a free consultation and see if you can actually get a Dutch mortgage as an expat

In the olden days, when people worked for 50 years for the same employer, one could only hope to obtain a Dutch mortgage when they were on a contract for an indefinite period (the fabled vast contract).

But this is 2021, and no longer the case when you want to get a mortgage in the Netherlands. Hurrah for all you ZZP’ers, college-debt-having, flexible contracts folks!

To see if you can get a Dutch mortgage, and even more importantly, how much money a bank will lend you, it’s best to set up an appointment with a mortgage advisor. “It’s important to know that these appointments have no strings attached whatsoever,” Kenneth says.

It’s in this appointment that you can find out everything about the conditions of getting a Dutch mortgage, ask questions specific to your situation, or get into the nitty-gritty about how high a mortgage you can actually obtain.

Pro-tip! If you want to get an indication of your possible mortgage now, you can use this mortgage calculator by Expat Mortgages.

Step 3: What do you wish for your Dutch home?

Now that you have an idea of your budget, it’s time to determine what you really want from a Dutch house. Of course, a lot of this is personal, it all depends on where you work, what you like, if you have kids, or have a dream about living on one of these Dutch houseboats.

But some of these Dutch housing dreams require a bit of knowledge about the Dutch housing market. For example, buying a house from the 1700s might be nice but please do know that you’re in for a bit of maintenance — which can be expensive here since a lot of Dutchies wanna get some renovation work done nowadays.

Or, for example, if you want to buy a house in Rotterdam, but where are you going to live there? The city centre is expensive, while other neighbourhoods might be cheaper but not as liveable as you would hope.

There’s a lot to consider, so take the time to write out exactly what you’re looking for in your Dutch home and do your research!

Step 4: Find that house and make an offer (and let’s teach you a bit of Dutch)

So you spotted a house, viewed it and want to make an offer? Well, we don’t want to pressure you but this is a crazy market and houses in the Netherlands go fast.

If you’ve found a house that you like, make an offer as soon as you’ve made up your mind. If you really want the house then you’ll likely consider offering more than the asking price. This is pretty normal in 2021 when buying a house in the Netherlands in prime cities, like Amsterdam or Utrecht.

How to make an offer on a house? By email! This is weird sometimes because you’re sending out an email that literally says “I want to buy your house for €543,000.” Anyway, send the mail yourself or get your realtor (makelaar) to do it.

If you’re at this stage, there are two Dutch phrases you’ll need to know:

Onder voorbehoud van Financiering

Literal translation: with the condition of financing.
Actual meaning: subject to your finance being approved. Essentially, if you’re not approved for your mortgage the deal is off.
Why you need it: if you don’t include this in your contract and can’t secure your finance you may have to pay 10% of your offer as a penalty!

Bouwkundige Keuring

Literal translation: constructional examination
Actual meaning: building or architecture inspection
Why you need it: if this is a relatively old house you’re intending to buy you want to get this as a condition. This check will point out any major flaws in the building that could end up costing you money later. If your offer is subject to a bouwkundige keuring you can still cancel it if they find a structural flaw in the house — or a giant sinkhole or something.

Step 5: Offer accepted for a Dutch house? Make sure you’re ready!

All that hard work has led you to this: your offer on a Dutch house got accepted and you’re almost a Dutch homeowner! HURRAH! Congratulations, the work is done!

Enjoyed that moment? Good! Because obviously the work isn’t finished at all. Sorry, you still need to arrange your Dutch mortgage — which we’ll get into in the next steps.

But for now enjoy, go out for a walk (or drinks if you’re reading this in the post-covid future) and think about whether you’re really happy with that house. Because what if you’re having second thoughts about the house you just bought here in the Netherlands?

The Three Day Cooling Down period

Just blindly bought a house in Amsterdam for half a million euros and realized you’re totally not up for it, right after you got your offer accepted? This is where the cooling-down period comes into play!

In fact, whenever you agree to buy a house in the Netherlands, you can cancel the deal within three working days. You can do this without any specified reason and without it costing you a cent (besides the hassle).

The cooling-down period starts just after midnight the day after you’ve received the written news that your offer has been accepted. If you do decide to pull out, you need to thoroughly inform the selling party.

It’s also good to know that there’s no cooling-off period for the selling party unless this has been specifically agreed in the sales contract.

Step 6: Get in touch with your Dutch mortgage advisor!

So you had a night of celebrations and want to obtain that Dutch mortgage ASAP. Time to hit up your mortgage advisor and tell them to get right to work — you’ve got a house to buy!

It’s necessary, too, since money lending parties in the Netherlands are rather busy and there’s usually a deadline. It can take a while to jump through all the administrative hoops and get a mortgage as an expat.

Expat Mortgages: Can they help you get a mortgage in the Netherlands?

How to buy a house in the Netherlands
Kenneth Leenders. Image: Expat Mortgages

As the name might give away already, Expat Mortgages helps expats in the Netherlands get a mortgage for their new Dutch home. The team know all the ins-and-outs of all the issues that internationals might face when they want to secure a Dutch mortgage.

Again a big shout out to Kenneth Leenders from Expat Mortgages. He helped us out with this article and he really knows his stuff when it comes to all the steps you have to take to obtain a Dutch mortgage.

Step 7: Prepare your Dutch mortgage application (it’s paperwork time!)

If you’re wondering what’s next, it’s paperwork (and loads of it). A good mortgage advisor can help you a bit with it, but it speaks for itself that you’ll have to get on top of this one!

This is the kind of stuff you need to get your hands on:

Employer’s declaration

A statement made by your employer confirming your annual income based on salary, bonuses and fringe benefits. This could be your employment contract.

Salary specification

Your monthly payslip, which will correspond to the information given in your employer’s statement, and will also show aspects such as the 30% ruling, expenses, payable taxes, etc. You should have this one somewhere!

Necessary information about the mortgaged property, such as:

  • a copy of the purchase agreement signed by both parties,
  • the original valuation/appraisal report, and
  • a copy of a survey report.

I’m not going to lie, this is a bunch of work. But if your employer helps you out and you’ve got a good mortgage advisor it should be really do-able. Then, your mortgage company will take care of the next steps:

“We gather all paperwork, get offers from a few selected money lenders which you can review,” explains Kenneth.

After you’ve chosen your mortgage provider, your broker will review your paperwork and get back to you with whether or not your Dutch mortgage application is accepted.

Step 8: Your Dutch mortgage application is accepted, celebrations!

It’s your mortgage advisor on the phone telling you that the bank has accepted your mortgage application! This is it! You’re really close now and realistically speaking it’s totally going to happen: you’re going to be a Dutch homeowner!

We’re entering the final stages of this whole process of becoming a homeowner and getting that Dutch mortgage. This is where you sign all the paperwork.

Step 9: Go to the notary and become that Dutch homeowner!

If you’re wondering who’s doing all the calculating and actually supervises the exchanging of the keys and wiring of the money; it’s the notary! Here’s where the magic happens!*

Your mortgage advisor should have some good advice on which notary to pick in which region, good contact with trustworthy interpreters should you need any, and will even hold your hand at the notary if you need it.**

After you’ve signed off on all the paperwork at the notary you get the keys and it’s actually your home! Yes, a real adult with a real home!

Some people might perceive the notary as a costly and useless step in the mortgage process. But I disagree: it’s really helpful to have somebody draw up all the papers, calculate the costs, and make sure everything went okay.

*Magic pertains to lots of contracts and reading in an office
** Holding your hand is: “Your adviser from will be present during the transfer of title procedure and, if necessary, when the (provisional) contract of sale is signed.” (But 99% sure they will give you a pep-talk if you need one.)

Step 10: Sort your taxes and be a responsible adult

You can relax now, or start renovating your new home straight away. But you’ll also want to get hands-on with your taxes after you get a Dutch mortgage. Why? Because you can actually get a quick refund from the Dutch tax office compensating the expenses of buying that Dutch house.

READ MORE | After buying a house in the Netherlands – the ultimate aftersale guide for expats

Then there’s also the “mortgage interest reduction” that you need to be aware of. This is a sweet Dutch tax arrangement that you can now apply for. It basically means you can deduct the costs of the interest that you’re paying for your mortgage (and if that has your interest, check out our article on how buying a house can actually save you money).

Word to the wise: being a homeowner in the Netherlands is a great thing when it comes to your tax situation, so ask your mortgage advisor all about the upsides of the Dutch tax system and being a homeowner.

That important extra step: get in touch with Expat Mortgages

If you’re thinking “damn, that dude from DutchReview knows his Dutch mortgage stuff,” well, thanks! But most of the credit should go to Kenneth from Expat Mortgages.

Expat Mortgages are mortgage advisors who exclusively work with expats and internationals. So they know what they’re doing when they’re helping you obtaining a mortgage in the Netherlands — and will be answering the phone in English too 😉.

Expat Mortgages has top-of-the-line advisors in every region of the country, so whether you’re interested in buying a house in Eindhoven or Amsterdam, Expat Mortgages has the right person to advise you on all the ins-and-outs of it.

Want to get in touch for an offline appointment? Well, they can meet you for a no-strings-attached meeting in which you can ask everything about the mortgage possibilities. Or just digitally drop by at one of their webinars

Are you thinking of buying a house in the Netherlands? Have any questions about any of these steps when it comes to getting a mortgage? Let us know in the comments!

Feature Image: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

Abuzer van Leeuwen 🇳🇱http://www.abuzervanleeuwen.nl
Founded DutchReview. Rotterdammer living in Leiden. Politics, innovation and epic food-reviews are his thing. Interested in doing anything with DutchReview? Contact him at abuzer[at]dutchreview.com

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