The below blog post was written by a customer who bought an apartment with Burgemeester Vastgoed in January/February 2020.
Anyone who’s been in the expat community for a while has likely heard some horror stories about buying property here. Huge overbids. Illegal roof terraces. Ridiculously short deadlines. Always losing out to another buyer. It became apparent to us that Amsterdam’s housing market is quite unique.
Having come from London I didn’t expect just how different the market would be. I thought London’s housing market moved quite quickly – but Amsterdam vs. London is like racing a Ferrari against a Fiat 500.
As we realised how much our rent was just money down the drain, we started to look at whether buying would be an option. Like many, we first went to Funda, and then to a mortgage calculator. However, we were cautious – I was particularly convinced that the cards were stacked against us.
Firstly, I was self-employed – and having only moved to Amsterdam in late-2018 was aware that there was only a short income history available.
Secondly, we owned a flat in London with a mortgage and we were aware that some mortgage providers wouldn’t even consider us because of it – despite it being rented out.
Thirdly, we had high expectations. We had a dream of what we wanted – and no idea if it was realistic.
It was through a friend that I was connected to Barry and Monique Burgemeester. I like to think I’m a good judge of character – so it mattered greatly to me when Barry was able to quickly instil confidence and trust in us.
We had our introductory session, and Barry talked me through the process. I also talked him through what we were looking for, and what we thought our budget was.
Because of my partner’s workplace, we decided to go with ABN Amro for our mortgage. Barry kindly connected us to someone internally, and it felt like we were getting the premium service. I explained our situation to the bank and they promptly gave us an estimate on how much we could borrow. Our personal circumstances weren’t an issue, it just meant a little more paperwork.
Then, we were ready to start looking.
The first (and last) viewing.
Barry had clearly listened to what we wanted from a property in Amsterdam. We’d said we’d been looking for a 2 bedroom place, with a large balcony or garden, in the west. We knew that there had to be a good-sized kitchen, and that it needed to have lots of natural daylight.
Barry set up a viewing and – wow – it met our criteria, and then some. It was a top floor maisonette with a deck terrace. There was a large living room, with the option of converting the current kitchen into a bedroom and moving the kitchen upstairs. It also had a huge skylight which made space feel brighter and larger. Finally, as a bonus, it had solar panels and was on ‘own ground’!
What’s fantastic about having a good buying agent like Barry is that he understands property, and understands your needs – so he find where they meet in the middle. This property didn’t have two bedrooms, but he could see the potential and knew that we would be open to a renovation project like this.
I spoke to Barry about this and he mentioned how it’s rare for people to put an offer on the first property. Usually, this is because people want to see what else is out there – which is perfectly reasonable. But the market moves so quickly that this can be risky. Luckily, we had done our research. A few months before we had viewed a few properties in open houses. We didn’t have a mortgage estimate or buying agent, so we knew we wouldn’t be able to put an offer in – but we just wanted to understand the market. So, when we saw this first property, we already knew that this was the one – we had to have it.
The same day of the viewing Barry read all the associated documentation and made sure it was all above board – before suggesting a minimum bid. We had gone from giving the green light on Tuesday, to putting in an offer on Thursday.
We waited anxiously – Barry kept us updated throughout and his good relationship with the selling agent helped in keeping us informed. There was a bit of back and forth, but then the offer was accepted – we were thrilled.
Everything continued to move quickly. We had the purchase agreement signed at Kasper Notariaat within a week, and then the mortgage confirmed two weeks after that.
Confidence is everything
Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions one can make. It’s natural to feel anxious or uncertain – so finding someone who can give you confidence and stability during the process is invaluable.
A more recent example of this was due to the coronavirus outbreak. We are due to move in by July – so the final transfer hasn’t yet happened. I was getting slightly nervous that the current situation may cause issues. Barry reassured me that this was very unlikely, but gave us the option of submitting the purchase agreement to the land registry. This just gives us a little extra insurance in the event something was to delay proceedings. Barry never pushed this on us, but understood the emotional side of buying a property – and so provided a solution.
The plus side is that we can now relax – and instead spend all our spare time looking on Pinterest and looking for interior design inspiration.
So, my advice to others? Here’s what we learnt:
- Things are still moving. Even during the coronavirus outbreak, buying property is still possible.
- Do your research. Don’t miss out on a property just because you want to see more – it’ll be gone before you realise how great it was. Start looking before you actually start looking, and get an understanding of what’s available.
- Start collecting your paperwork. Particularly if your situation is a little unusual, get as much paperwork and evidence as you can. For instance, I got clients to sign letters of intent for 2020 to show the bank that I would have future income
- Pay off your student loan. No, really. For some reason my €13,000 student loan had a very significant impact on our borrowing capacity.
- Have a buying agent. The market here is complex, and there are many traps to fall into. Have someone who can guide and protect you
Want to speak to Barry and Monique? Set up an introductory session.