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Buying a property

There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of property in the Netherlands, whether resident or non-resident, although banks may impose some of their own rules on foreign investment.

Finding a property to purchase
  • Search online. There are a number of websites that list available properties in the Maastricht region, and offer “search alerts” to suit the profile of the residence being searched for. This way direct contact with the makelaar (real estate agent) or eigenaar (property owner) as soon as a suitable residence is posted online. There are several real estate platforms in the Netherlands where you can search for suitable homes, such as: FundaPararius, Jaap;
  • Engage the services of a real estate agent. This way information about newly listed residences can be accessed before they are added to the website. Some real estate agents charge a fee for registering with them, though this may prove beneficial in finding the right property;
  • There are two types of real estate agents: 
    • Woonstichtingen - agencies owning real estate properties (housing associations).
      These organisations usually offer rental properties, however there are purchase properties also listed at times, depending on the market. The residences will usually be delivered kaal (bare).
    • Makelaars – agencies mediating between the owner and vendor (real estate agents);
  • Try social media expat groups in the region, these are relevant sources of information and instead of waiting for a residence to become available a request for potential properties can be made and contacts can be suggested within the expat community themselves;
  • Some employers have agreements with real estate agencies and/or property owners who have residences that ideally suit expats (size, condition, location).

Property purchases are generally made through a makelaar (real estate agent). There are many agents in the Maastricht Region, each with its own portfolio of properties. Real estate agents should be registered with a professional real estate association such as NVM, VastgoedPRO and VBO), reference to this should be listed on their website.

A property owner will enlist the services of a verkoopmakelaar (selling agent) to sell their property. For those interested in purchasing a property, there are aankoopmakelaars (purchasing agents) who can assist in getting the best price terms and can judge things like the state and resale value of a property from their own local experience. Purchasing agents can also guide vendors through the whole purchase process.

Otherwise, the following items need to be addressed once a suitable property is found:

  • provisional arrangement of a mortgage, possibly with additional advice from a tax consultant;
  • negotiations with the selling agent;
  • securing independent advice about the state of the property;
  • arrange a technical survey;
  • understand the (legal) contents of the purchase agreement;
  • collect the required documents for the mortgage;
  • contact the civil law notary to set up the arrangement for handover;
  • other legal matters such as translation of legal documents.

When buying a property in the Netherlands, purchase costs totalling around 5-6% of the cost price are paid by the buyer (referred to as kosten koper, or k.k.). Some costs (such as purchase tax) are fixed, and non-negotiable. Costs for the services of advisors, agents and mortgage providers can vary. It is worth asking for quotes from more than one provider.

Purchase of property process
  • Secure a mortgage estimate. In the Netherlands, four times an annual salary is the common maximum mortgage amount;
  • Find a suitable property, using the list above for potential sources of information;
  • Carry out preliminary investigations to check if major repairs are needed, an aankoopmakelaar can help with this;
    • When purchasing an apartment the owner will become part of the vereniging van eigenaren – VVE (homeowners’ association). Members split major structural costs like roof repairs, but this may have to wait until the other members can afford to contribute;
  • Make a bid. This can be done directly or through the aankoopmakelaar. Once a bid is accepted by the seller, both parties have three days bedenktijd (cooling off period). The bid process may also include conditions that must be met before signing the mortgage. For example, if you have made an offer for an amount, the sellers may be willing to accept the offer, but only on the condition you wait several months before you move in. This will be part of the official bid. If nothing is heard from either party during bedenktijd, then the bid has been officially accepted;
  • Documentation. At this stage all official documents, mortgage, insurance policies and official translations need to be arranged. This paperwork is required for the deed transfer to occur. Ensure the fine print in the contract is read very carefully, and if help is required engage legal services;
  • Transfer of funds to the correct bank account. The mortgage advisor will tell advise on the best way to make the transfer, and where it needs to be transferred;
  • Signing of the deed of sale at the notary’s office. On a day agreed by both parties, the papers will be signed at the notary’s office. The notary will review all the paperwork to make sure it is understood (either in Dutch or in an official English translation of the original Dutch documents). 
Types of mortgages
 

Hypotheken (mortgages) are regulated in the Netherlands, the only kinds of mortgages that are eligible for renteaftrek (interest tax deduction) are annuities and linear mortgage models, whereby the loan is repaid within 30 years via monthly repayments. The amount of interest repaid by the government depends on the level of income tax paid. This in turn will depend on factors such as the 30% Tax Facility as well as gross salary. This is a complex field and it is advisable to seek help from a professional financial advisor before going ahead with any purchase. Some will charge fees for their advice; others will receive a commission from the bank or the financial institution with which the mortgage is taken out.

It is usual that a bank or lending facility will lend four times the amount of the individual or combined gross salary. There are many hypotheek calculators online.

In order to start the mortgage process, the following documents are required;

  • proof of income: most recent payslip or proof of income;
  • proof of ID: a passport or national identity card;
  • proof of residency: BSN, as well as any necessary residency documents.

The mortgage provider (or mortgage advisor) will advise on the necessary documentation required throughout the purchase process.

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