Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Amsterdam’s Market ‘Very Hot’ with Price Increases, Housing Shortage | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The front garden at the gated 0.37 acre property is filled with hydrangeas and white roses. Mar. J. Heule Makelaardij

Amsterdam- This gated house, built in 2007 and renovated five years ago, sits on 0.37 acres in the midst of a nature preserve, across a quiet road from the Amstel River. The 3,068-square-foot main house has three bedrooms, two and a half baths and a finished basement. A wireless Sonos music system (which will be included in the sale) operates in both the main house and, beyond a broad driveway, a 700-square-foot carriage house. Both are white stucco, with black tile roofs.

Past a hydrangea- and rose-filled front yard, bluestone steps lead to the front door, said Jerry Wijnen, an owner of Mar. J. Heule Makelaardij BV, which has the listing. French doors in the center entry hall open to an L-shape living and dining area with light oak floors and a fireplace. Views through tall windows extend from the river to meadows and a brook, in three directions. A powder room is off the front hall.

The kitchen is to the right of the foyer and opens on the other side to the dining area. The cabinets are light oak; the center island counter is Belgian bluestone. The appliances, most of them Miele, include an espresso/coffee/cappuccino machine, a convection microwave, a warming drawer, a freezer and a refrigerator. A seven-burner Boretti stove, a grill, a wok burner and an oven are part of the center island.

A wooden staircase with metal balusters leads from the entry hall to a skylit second-floor landing. The master bedroom runs the width of the second level, with dormer windows set into slanted walls at either end. To one side, a large dressing room and walk-in closet connects to a spacious ceramic-tiled bath with a free-standing tub, a large shower and a vanity. A second bedroom with built-in cupboards has access to the bathroom through a hallway door. A wine cellar, a Finnish sauna, a bathroom, a bedroom, a gym and a storage room are on the lower level.

Four sets of French doors across the back of the living and dining rooms open to a broad wooden deck with stairs down to the yard. A bluestone stepping path leads to a pergola-topped deck by the water’s edge. Next to the carriage house is another patio by a small stream.

The carriage house has an entry hall, an office/study and a full bath, with a bedroom upstairs.

The house is in the bucolic village of Nes aan de Amstel, three miles from Amstelveen, a diverse town in the Amsterdam metropolitan area that is home to several multinational companies. Stadshart, a mall with some 200 shops and restaurants, is three miles away. A cinema, theater, museum and weekly market are nearby. The house is a 12-mile drive from the cultural, culinary and night-life activities in Amsterdam’s center; Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is 11 miles away.

Market Overview

Amsterdam’s market is currently “very hot,” Mr. Wijnen said, with double-digit price increases annually since 2013 and “a big shortage of housing.”

As a result of the huge demand, paying the asking price, or even 10 percent above it, is “quite normal,” said Marianne Joanknecht, a broker and appraiser with Netherlands Sotheby’s International Realty, though in years past properties often sold for 10 percent below the list price.

Prices of homes under $1 million are up 20 percent over last year, she said; those of homes above are up 10 percent: “For every apartment under 500,000 euros” — about $570,000 — “there are 20 buyers; we have bidding wars.”

At the high end, finding a $2-million-plus apartment with a terrace, balcony or parking space in the sought-after center of Amsterdam or Amsterdam South is very difficult, Ms. Joanknecht said. “Whole houses, with gardens, in good areas are very rare.”

Demand for historic canal houses with gardens in the back is also strong, as is that for homes near Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s version of Central Park, where a detached house with a garden would be “top of the bill, 10 to 15 million euros,” said Hellen Groen-de Leijer, a broker with Christie’s International Real Estate in Amsterdam. Near the city center, many canal houses are being split up into apartments.

Although Amsterdam real estate is the most highly prized in the Netherlands (followed by that in Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht), Ms. Joanknecht said, “If you compare the prices to London or Paris or New York, still we are very cheap.”

To help ease the housing crunch, the edges of the city and the old industrial harbor areas have been converted to residential areas, Ms. Groen-de Leijer said. And developments like Holland Park, with 2,500 new homes and apartments in five- to seven-story buildings, are underway on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Xavier, a new 21-story residential tower, will mingle with six-story buildings in the Zuidas business district, and other new developments will rise 23 to 25 stories. “For Amsterdam, that is high-rise,” Ms. Joanknecht said.

Who Buys in Amsterdam

International interest in Amsterdam is growing, with more British buyers expected as a result of Britain’s exit from the European Union, Ms. Groen-de Leijer said. Australians are also among her buyers.

Barbara van der Grijp, a managing partner at Engel & Völkers Amsterdam, said she saw buyers from France, Germany, Turkey and the United States, as well as some from China and the United Arab Emirates.

Tech-savvy Russians, Indians and Japanese people with jobs at international companies also buy in Amsterdam and nearby Amstelveen, Mr. Wijnen said.

Buying Basics

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers, but a tax adviser is recommended. An independent notary checks title, draws up the contract and handles the transfer deed, looking after both buyer and seller. Notaries guide transactions with complicated easements and ownership issues, as well. But having a real estate agent with a broad range of expertise is also important.

Languages and Currency

Dutch; euro ($1 equals €0.89)

Taxes and Fees

Property taxes on this house are about 2,300 euros (or $2,612) a year.

Buyers pay a 2 percent transfer tax. A notary fee of up to 2.5 percent is based on the selling price and the legal issues involved. If there is a buyer’s agent, he or she receives a 1.5 percent to 2 percent commission paid by the buyer. Sellers pay a commission similar to their real estate agents.

The New York Times