Reinier Russell

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Buying a house in the Netherlands: a guide for expats

Publication date 20 October 2022

What to look out for when buying a house in the Netherlands? Read the tips in our practical guide for expats.


As an expat working and living in the Netherlands, you may want to own your own property in the Netherlands. After all, although the costs of buying a Dutch house are high, owning a home in the Netherlands often makes good financial sense in the long term. This is because home owners in the Netherlands receive tax benefits. For example, mortgage interest payments are tax-deductible. Furthermore, mortgage costs are often lower than rent.

Please find below a brief guide for expats who wish to buy a property in the Netherlands.

Getting a mortgage

In most cases, you will need a mortgage to finance buying the property. How easy it is to get a mortgage is dependent on your residence permit type.

1) Buying a house as an EU resident

If you are from an EU member state, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland or Liechtenstein, then there is often no problem and you can get a normal mortgage. The same rules apply to you as to a Dutch citizen. This also applies if you have a temporary residence permit.

2) Buying a house as a non-EU resident

If you are a non-EU resident, your chances of getting a mortgage depend on your residence permit type. A distinction must be made between non-temporary and temporary residence permits. If you have a temporary residence permit, getting a mortgage loan will be more difficult and additional requirements apply. These additional requirements may vary among different Dutch mortgage providers. For example, some lenders require that you have sufficient ties to the Netherlands. Or that you have lived and worked in the Netherlands for at least three years. There are also banks that will not provide mortgage loans at all to expats with a temporary residence permit.

In light of the above, we advise you to consult different mortgage providers about your specific situation. In most cases, expats with a temporary residence permit can get a mortgage with a maximum of 90% of the value of their house.

30% ruling

Please note that the so-called 30% ruling may raise your chances of getting an appealing mortgage deal. The 30% ruling is a tax break available to employees who move to the Netherlands. In some cases, this regulation may also apply to entrepreneurs. However, this advantage is not available to every expat; there is quite a long list of conditions to meet if you want to benefit.

Real estate agent

Once you have found a mortgage provider and you have determined your budget, you can start viewing and choosing a property you like. The Dutch housing market can be daunting. If there are many interested parties, it may be difficult to organize a home viewing. Therefore, it may be advisable to find a real estate agent in the Netherlands. A real estate agent has knowledge of the home buying process, a broad Dutch network, negotiating skills and familiarity with the area. This can be extremely valuable, as it may help you to get early access to viewings or get a good price deal on your home.

Signing the purchase contract and the deed of transfer

After the seller has accepted your (real estate agent’s) offer, the terms of the house sale are set out in a preliminary purchase contract with contingencies. It is advisable to include a clear financing clause (financieringsbeding) in this contract. This will allow you to withdraw if you cannot raise the required mortgage. Another important contingency clause to take into account includes the penalty clause. Such a clause is included in most purchase contracts and states that a high penalty must be paid in case either party decides not to go through with the sale.

Before signing the preliminary purchase contract, it is advisable to get the house surveyed. This may avoid high costs in the future for, for example, the removal of asbestos and structural damage which is hard to spot.

After both parties have signed the preliminary purchase contract, a notary will draw up the required deeds to be signed for the transfer of the property. The notary will also update the land registry and mortgage registry with your name. You can choose your own notary when buying property in the Netherlands. But you can also ask us to provide you with a trusted notary from our network.

Home owners’ association (Vereniging van Eigenaren (VvE))

Whenever you buy an apartment that is part of an apartment block or building, it is almost certain that a VvE is involved. The VvE is also called the home owners’ association. When you become the owner of an apartment with a VvE, you automatically also become a member of the attached VvE. The VvE is responsible for maintaining the building and public areas, building up a reserve to cover future maintenance costs, taking out building insurance and making sure that the house rules or bylaws are followed.

You must pay service fees to the VvE on a monthly basis. In return, being a member of the VvE, you receive voting rights. The weight of your voting rights is stated in the purchase contract of your property. Once a year, the VvE will come together to discuss the budget, upcoming maintenance, responsibilities and other matters that individual owners can bring to the table. The size of a VvE can range from two owners to a large number of owners. Smaller VvE’s can often be managed by the owners themselves. It is however more common that a company manages the association and all financial and formal matters in return for a monthly fee.

When you are planning on buying a home that is part of a VvE, it is good to review the minutes of the past meetings, the bylaws and the amount of money in savings. This information will tell you more about whether the association is healthy, if the building is properly managed but also how the relationships between the owners are.

Lawyers for real estate and expats

Do you have questions regarding the buying of a Dutch property? Of do you have a conflict with your VvE? Call us, email us or make use of the contact form below. We will be happy to assist you.

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