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A step-by-step guide on selling property in the Netherlands

Houses

How to sell a house in the Netherlands

This article will be of use if:

  • you are not from the Netherlands, and
  • you got to sell a property located in a Dutch city (Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Eindhoven, etc.), and
  • you could use some information on how selling property in the Netherlands works

This post consists of the following topics:

  1. The desirability of an estate agent in the Dutch market
  2. The things you have to look for while picking a real estate agent
  3. Where to search for an estate agent
  4. Start of the selling process
  5. The offer
  6. Upon agreement: closing
  7. Selling a house with a mortgage in the Netherlands

 

For your information: I am a 27-year-old Dutchman myself with a lot of expat friends.

You might come across some medium structured sentences. Let's say, my knowledge on the Dutch real estate market is far better than my English (feel free to send an e-mail to info@mijnverkoopmakelaar.nl if the error is too big to ignore).

I share this guide, because I hate that expats are being exploited by my fellow country men, especially in the housing market.

Further down this page, you will find some information on what it is we do (Mijn Verkoopmakelaar) and how that could be of use during this selling process. 

 

 Let's get started.

 

1. The desirability of an estate agent in the Dutch market

To estate agent or not to estate agent? That's the question.

Estate agents are not that popular

Dutch people don't think much of estate agents. They have a pretty bad name. In part, their critique is justified. Not all agents do really add value, and it is really hard to distinguish the honest and the dishonest ones.

Not obligated, but strongly advised

The involvement of an estate agent is not obligated. There is no rule or regulation that prohibits you to sell a property yourself.

Nevertheless, in almost 95% of the transactions, a realtor is involved on the selling side of the transaction. Sellers in the Netherlands contract an estate agent, because it brings:

  1. expertise on price setting and marketing
  2. convenience with viewings and the legal hassle
  3. trustworthiness in the eyes of potential buyers

Speaking as a Dutchman, I would say that the most important reason that people involve an estate agent, is 'Funda.nl'. You have probably already heard about this. Funda is the most popular* housing website for properties in the Netherlands. It is our 'Rightmove' 'LeBonCoin' or 'Zillow'.

The connection with estate agents and Funda, is the following. Only estate agents can upload a house to the website. You as an individual can not.** So without the involvement of an agent, your property won't get all the exposure it could have.

*Other less popular housing websites are: Jaap.nl and Pararius.nl. Jaap.nl has the same listings as funda. Pararius consists mostly out of listings for rent.

**Useful revelation: Funda.nl is founded and still owned by 1 of the associations of estate agents. That's why they require the involvement of an estate agent. More on these associations below.

Just 1 agent, not multiple

In some countries it is custom to contract multiple agents, so there is a bit of healthy competition. In the Netherlands, that almost never happens. Agents get exclusivity on the deal. So, we are looking for 1 agent for the sale of your property.

Estate agent in the Dutch language

To make all this a bit easier, hereby a short language course.

The Dutch word for realtor/estate agent is Makelaar or Verkoopmakelaar. 'Verkoop' means 'sell', so if you use 'verkoopmakelaar', you are referring to the agent that works on the selling side of the transaction. If you use Makelaar, you are always safe ;).

Most estate agents in the Netherlands offer both services on the buying side (aankoop) and on the selling side (verkoop). For the avoidance of doubt: they never work on both sides of the same deal, that's not allowed.

 

2. The things you have to look for while picking a real estate agent

I will walk you through what to look for with agents, what to ignore, and how to select the right one.

Certifications or associations

In the Netherlands, everyone can call himself an estate agent. The title isn't protected (like a lawyer or doctor). Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on the certifications of an agent. This is to make sure you don't end up with some useless hustler.

In this field of certifications, there are a lot of badges and patches agents like to brag with. They are not that helpful. That is why I'm going to skip all that and focus on the significant distinction: their associations. 

Estate agents are a member of one of the three associations:

The trade associations for estate agents

  1. NVM
  2. VBO
  3. Vastgoedpro

With these memberships, there comes quality checks and education for the agents. If you are selecting an agent, you need to look for one of these logos on their websites. This is a great indicator for the quality and gives you a bit of assurance of a good outcome.

To make you understand the differences between these associations, the best I can do is making an analogy with Dutch supermarkets (I hope you are integrated well enough to recognize these):

NVM = Albert Heijn

Most expensive, probably good quality.

VBO & VastgoedPRO = Jumbo

Slightly better priced, comparable quality, but you have to search a bit.

Fees of agents

The most surprising thing about selling a house in the Netherlands are the fees of agents. The Netherlands ranks among the cheapest countries for estate agents.

In 2020, we have researched 3,000 proposals that agents sent through our platform to potential sellers. The outcome: on average, estate agents asks 1.3% (Avg. EUR 4,000), VAT included, for selling a property. That is way lower than most other countries.

If the potential buyer also hired an estate agent, that doesn't change anything to the fee. You make your arrangements with your selling agent and the buyer makes their arrangements with their buying agent. These two are totally unconnected.

Making a selection

Most Dutch people invite between 2 and 4 different estate agents to their property. The agents will walk through the property and will give you their estimate of the value of the house. They will also tell you how much they charge for their services and make a pitch on why they are great, and the rest is not.

Sometimes they also share with you what they think the asking price for the property should be. This could deliberately be higher or lower than the expected selling price. This could be part of the selling strategy an agent applies.

Based on their proposals, their marketing strategy and their estimation of the selling price, you decide on whom you work with.

 

 

3. Where to search for an estate agent

Google, friends, funda and a bit of shameless self-promotion.

Google

Google makes sense, of course. The thing is that the search results are dominated by the most paying estate agents, instead of the best ones. Most of the time the agents that spend a lot on advertising, ran out of work because they are not the best. 

Friends

Well, I don't have to explain this one: ask a friend or colleague. The hard thing is finding someone who has experience with multiple agents, so they can actually rate them properly.

Funda

Funda, remember, the housing website? They can provide you with a list of active agents in your city. Important to know: they favor the 'NVM'-estate agents, they don't base their selection on ratings or results.

Or:

This is the part we can help you a bit. We build a tool to help you with your search. You can fill in the form (postal code & street number) and upload a couple of pictures of the interior of the property. By doing this, estate agents in the area will get notified on your plans to sell and can leave you a response if they like to sell your house.

Examples of reactions from real estate agents

They provide you with their strategy, their fee and their estimate of the achievable selling price (makes sure the photos give a good and fair impression). In this way you will save time and easily compare the offers of different estate agents. Our service is free and without obligation, so please take advantage of it.

Our website is not fully translated, but our (English speaking) team is ready to help you through the whole thing in case you need help. You can reach us by phone or WhatsApp at 020 244 2790 or send an e-mail to info@mijnverkoopmakelaar.nl.

Fill in your zip code and house number: 

  • Multiple offers
  • Verified agents
  • Local experience

  

4. Start of the selling process

After you picked 1 agent, that agent will provide you with a contract for their services. When you have signed that contract, the actual selling process begins.

Preparation

The agent will send a professional photographer to your property. During that visit, he or she will also make the floor map. Don't make any illusions: most agents outsource the making of photos to 1 of the 3 companies that make almost all the photos on Funda.nl. Make sure your home looks spick and span when the photos are taken. In fact, most potential buyers select home based on photos.

Some basic tips:

  • Potential buyers prefer houses with lots of light, so white walls do well. Make sure the windows are clan. Put as few things in front of them as possible tot maximize the amount of light.
  • Make sure the house is tidy and clean. Put away all personals items. Give potential buyers a chance to imagine themselves living in your house. Another big improvement is putting cables and cords out of sight.
  • Make small repairs, such as a broken window, an old door handle or a loose baseboard.

Further, the agent will ask you to fill in some forms about the house: stuff you changed, problems like leakages, the absence of asbestos, etcetera. He will write, partly based on that, a marketing pitch about your place.

All that information combined will be published on Funda.nl and other channels to attract potential buyers. 

Viewings

As a result, potential buyers will contact your agent to plan viewings. A good agent will combine the viewings as much as possible. This way, it is less time-consuming for you and the agent. 

Your role during the viewings is limited to:

  1. Making sure the property looks nice and tidy
  2. Leave the apartment for the duration of the viewing

 

The length of the process

The necessary amount of viewings will be around 5-15, depending on the location. On average, it takes 21 days (data from 2022) to get to a signed conditional buying agreement.

So, considering the whole process of preparation and the legal work: selling a property in the Netherlands will take around 2 months from start to finish.

Side note: the season in which you want to sell your home in the Netherlands may affect the length of the sales process. In general, people are less likely to be looking to buy a home in December. During the holidays everyone is busy with social affairs, and during old days people prefer to stay inside. As a result, it may take a little longer to sell your home in this period.

  

5. The offer

Conditionality of an offer

After a potential buyer viewed the house 1 or 2 times and is willing to buy it, he or she will make an offer. 

An offer will in 70% of the case be conditionally. The most used conditions are on:

  1. Technical review of the property by a construction expert (probably badly translated, but sorry, this is the best I can do)
  2. Successful mortgage application with a bank (again, my apologies for my English)

A good estate agent will negotiate on your behalf to get the best conditions and price.

Preliminary contract

Upon agreement, your selling agent will draft the preliminary contract. This contract is legal binding, and will contain the above stated conditions.

In Amsterdam, a notary will make this agreement. The reason for this custom is the complexity of Amsterdam real estate.

If everything is put int the agreement, you sign it.

 

6. Upon agreement: closing

Cooling-off period

By law, a buyer has 3 days to think about this contract, before it becomes a contract.

Afterwards, the buyer gets 3 weeks (or whatever period is stated in the offer) to fulfill the conditions. When the mortgage is approved, the bank will provide a written bank guarantee for the buying price. 

Notary

After the conditions are fulfilled, both you and the buyer go to the notary. This notary will draft the deed of transfer. When both parties sign this document, your house is sold. The notary will transfer the selling price to you, minus the fee for your selling agent.

Taxation

The transfer tax is due by the buyer. Profit you make on the sale of the property, won't be taxed. More on the taxation, you will find here: 

 

7. Selling a house with a mortgage in the Netherlands

Selling your house with a mortgage on it

First of all, it is possible to sell your house with a mortgage on it. When the house is sold, the mortgage lender will then require you to pay off the full outstanding amount of the mortgage. We speak of surplus value or equity ("overwaarde" in Dutch)when the purchase price is higher than the residual debt. In that case the amount of the surplus value will be deposited into your back account.

If the property has not yielded enough to repay the amount, a residual debt ("restschuld" in Dutch) arises. You can pay off this debt with your own funds. If you are planning to take out a new mortgage in the Netherlands (for a new home), you can also co=finance the residual debt. In the case of residual debt, always contact the lender. If you do not, the bank may block the transfer of the property. 

Selling your house and keeping your mortgage

Are you going to sell your house soon and move to a new home in the Netherlands? Many lenders allow you to take your existingmortgage, including the terms and conditions, with you to your new home. Such an arrangement is also referred to in Dutch as "verhuisregeling" or "meeneemregeling". This can for example be advantageous when you benefit from a low interest rate with your existing mortgage.

It is not the case that you can always take your mortgage with you. A mortgage is always linked to a particular house. When you sell your house, you must therefore make a new mortgage application. The lender will look at the value of your new home and examine whether you can borrow the amount with your current salary and assets. If this is the case, you can take your old mortgage with you under the same conditions.

This does not always mean that you keep exactly the same interest rate. The amount of interest depends on the ratio between the value of your home and the mortgage amount. Want to know more about this? Then ask your lender.

Chances are that your new house is more expensive, and your old mortgage is not enough to finance the house with. In that case, you can apply for an additional mortgage. You are usually required to take out this one with the same lender.

 

About Mijn Verkoopmakelaar

Hopefully, this was of any help.

If you still have to select an estate agent, you can fill in your postal code and answer the follow-up questions.

The agents in the area will study your property and leave you a proposal. They know they are in competition with other agents, so they will make sure their fee is competitive.

We keep track of their performance, so that you are ensured of a good outcome.

Long story short:

  • You get multiple offers of agents in your area
  • We have curated the agents based on their previous results
  • Using the service is free for you (agents share a small part of their fee)
  • We keep your contact details shielded, so you don't get annoying calls
  • Fill in your postal code below

If you experience any issues (language, for example) using the platform, feel free to contact us! We are here to help you in English with a Dutch accent ;).

Compare local estate agents:

Fill in your zip code and house number:

  • Multiple offers
  • Verified agents
  • Local experience

 

Frequently asked questions about selling property in the Netherlands

  • Is an estate agent necessary in the Netherlands?

    The involvement of an estate agent is not obligated by any rule or regulation. So you are free to sell a property all by yourself.

    Nevertheless, in almost 95% of the transactions in the Netherlands a realtor is involved on the selling side of the transaction.

  • What is the average broker commission in the Netherlands?

    On average estate agents in the Netherlands take a 1.3% (Avg. EUR 4.000) commission, VAT included (2022). That is way lower than most other countries.

    This fee is for the selling agent on the transaction. The agent on the buyer side is paid by the buyer of the property.

  • What does 'NVM' mean?

    NVM is 1 of the 3 associations of estate agents in the Netherlands. Through their membership estate agents get education and quality checks. The other 2 associations are called Vastgoedpro and VBO.

  • What is the housing website Funda.nl?

    Funda is by far the biggest housing website of the Netherlands. Every buyer in the Netherlands start their search here. Almost 90% of the properties for sale are included on the website.

    As a consumer you can not upload your property on Funda yourself. Only estate agents may upload properties to the website.

  • Where can I find an estate agent that doesn't treat me like an expat?

    Here you can fill in your postal code. You compare pre-screened agents on their pricing, past results and their strategy for your property.

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