Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Buying a house in the Netherlands

My wife and I have considered buying a home in the Netherlands, but obviously the process is intimidating. Last night I went to a seminar on how to buy a house if you're an expat and the lovely folks from Expat Mortgages managed to shock the heck out of me.

Amsterdam house
Amsterdam House
Photo by Michela Mongardi
Mind you, I'm originally from the US but I lived the UK for many years, both places where I saw a different housing market. In fact, the UK today, many young adults simply have no ability to buy a home and the US isn't much better. In the Netherlands today, though, it's still easy and if you're looking to move to Europe and settle down, this might be a big factor for you.

First, most home loans are zero down payment. Sure, you can put money down if you want, but it's not required. Second, like in the US, your interest on the loan is generally deductible from your taxes, meaning that buying, even if you put nothing down, can be cheaper than renting! As for credit rating, it turns out that you really don't want one. Over here, the credit agency generally reports negative items, not positive ones, so if you have no credit rating, that's a good thing!

One gentleman from India asked if he could qualify for a loan. He is a "knowledge worker", has the 30% ruling, a permanent contract, but only a one year residence permit. Not a problem. He's a knowledge worker and apparently the banks consider them a good risk.

So want a home? Get a job here in Amsterdam, get your permanent contract and buy. It's that simple (well, with the help of experts to guide you through the Dutch legal system).

If you're an expat living in Amsterdam already, check out the Expat Housing Seminar. It's free and, even if you don't buy a home, you at least get free drinks and snacks.

And no, I wasn't paid to make this advertisement :)

Update: I removed one comment from this post for using profanity in a derogatory manner. I don't object to profanity per se, but when it's directed at someone else I'm going to remove the response. It's a shame because otherwise that response would have been perfectly appropriate. Here's that anonymous response, minus the profanity:

try anywhere else in the world... any you'll realize you have it much easier than most. I'm nearly 30 and can't even think about buying a place for even 20% down on average home prices in the $700k range.