CJ and Eduan caught up with Ralf from Expat Mortgages and Cherene from Expat Property Brokers recently.
Both are experts in their field and in the Dutch property market.
Buying a house or property as an expat in a foreign country (or in your new home country) can be a daunting experience. But in The Netherlands this could potentially turn into a very pleasant experience if you have Expat Property Brokers and Expat Mortgages in your corner of the ring.
NOTE: When contacting either Expat Property Brokers or Expat Mortgages please reference “Ons vir jou, wat nou? Podcast” .
Ons vir Jou Podcast recently agreed an affiliation programme with Expat Mortgages and Expat Property Brokers, which might in turn offer a small financial reward for us so that we are able to continue to run this platform and create the awesome expat community that we are striving for in the long run.
In the episode we discussed:
Background on how Expat Property Brokers came about?
The company was founded by Bridgette and Jason Ball 5 years ago. Bridgette has a very strong property background having worked in South Africa for 25 years as an estate agent and she saw there was a gap in the market for a company that specifically caters towards expats and helping them navigate the Dutch market and invest into real estate.
Background on Expat Mortgages.
It was back in 2007 that Henk and Chris decided to set up Expat Mortgages as an independent company devoted entirely to providing expats with mortgage advice in a language they understand.
This initiative was prompted by the increasing number of expats asking for advice on home financing issues and the lack of a good and flexible service for expats by banks and brokers in general at the time.
Expat Property Brokers caters… Mainly for expats and people settling permanently here in The Netherlands. We find that having been through the process of resettling here ourselves, having bought a home and going through all the pitfalls thereof, it gives us a good understanding of what our clients are going through and how they feel and it put us in a strong position through our own experiences, to help them find that perfect home while navigating the Dutch housing market. I think more so than our Dutch counterparts who have for the most part lived here all their lives and never experienced trying to buy a house being an expat, in a foreign country in a foreign language.
And I think this is what makes us unique as a company we are a group of South Africans who have all walked this path before and know what it’s all about, because moving abroad is hard, and buying a home in a foreign country is daunting but having a team behind you that has experience in all of this make the journey far less daunting.
Expat Mortgages caters for… expats (from all over the world) asking for advice on home financing (not only in The Netherlands, but throughout various countries see their website and read through the diverse testimonials).
What is Expat Property Brokers’ part in the process of helping clients to find a home? What is that extra mile or X-factor that you offer for the client?
Once a client signs up with us and has supplied us with a wish list of what they are looking for we begin the search process. We make the appointments attend all the viewings with our client. When a client finds a property, they like and want to buy we will pull reports, research past sales in the area, run the numbers and read all the pertaining documentation to make sure there aren’t any nasty surprises.
Most house are sold by a closed bidding system which basically means everyone has a chance to submit their bid with their terms, before a certain deadline and once the deadline is closed, the selling agent will look at all the bids and conditions and choose the best ones to discuss with the sellers. Often the highest bid wins but also non conditional bids are very attractive. Conditions we usually add to our bids are a financial condition, meaning that if your finance is not approved then you can walk away without paying any penalties and our second condition is a technical inspection – many of the homes in the Netherlands are old and build close to water and just by viewing the house you don’t always know what going on under the house, on the roof, in the walls etc. these will all be picked up in a technical inspection.
Once you win the bid then we will help you finalise the contract. We also arrange the valuation of the property which is needed for the mortgage process to begin. From there we help with liaising with your financial adviser and notaries. Often when buying a house, the transfer can take anywhere from 6 weeks to a year depending on when the sellers are moving out and into their new home. On the day of transfer, we do a final inspection to make sure that the home you bought is in the same condition as it was when you did the technical inspection or improved if so, agreed by both parties. We check everything every window door and plug etc. then once we are happy everything is in order, we go with you to the notary to sign the documents. We are with you every step of the way from the beginning to the end.
What is Expat Mortgages’ part in the process of helping clients to find a home? What is that extra mile or X-factor that you offer for the client?
Expat Mortgages is an independent mortgage agency and we are able to provide mortgages from most banks and insurance companies operating in the market.
However, since not every bank is willing to finance or insure an expat, we cannot guarantee to provide a mortgage with every bank and/or insurance company. We do not have any obligation to mediate for any particular bank or insurance company. Our consultants do not benefit financially by advising you a particular product.
+… Free Tax services (assisting services) for the first 2 years after buying a property (in the netherlands at least! check with your consultant)
What are the things to look out for during an actual home viewing? (Question to Expat Property Brokers)
You need to look out for damp and water damage on the walls and floors and ceilings. You need to check for any strange smells in places like the kitchen, cellar and pantry under the stairs, see if you can see any moisture penetration of leaks anywhere.
I usually ask the agent about any issues the property has, like leaks, damaged items, things that are not working etc.
I ask if there are any eftpachts (which are lease holds) on the property or if the property is eigen grond, meaning if you bought this property, you would own the land and building and not just the building as in some cases especially in Amsterdam.
I ask how old the CV kettle (Geyser… in plain Saffa language! Or in our frame of reference atleast! Haha) is when was it last serviced. CV kettles usually last 15-18 years we recommend to change them every 15 years as this, affects your electricity consumption and energy rating.
I ask about the kitchen and how old the appliances are.
I ask about the energy label, are the windows double glazed, are the floor and walls insulated.
I like to also know how old the mechanical ventilation is and is there any know asbestos in the building. Asbestos was still used in the building of houses up until mid-1993. So its always useful to ask this if the house was built before 1994.
Other pitfalls to avoid during the home buying process? (Question to Expat Property Brokers)
If it sounds to good to be true then it usually is and do your homework and research because knowledge is power and the more you arm yourself with knowledge of the property market and the buying process then there is less of a chance you will have the wool pulled over your eyes.
Advantages of using a broker/makelaar, And why use Expat Property Brokers? Buying a home is an emotive subject and we take the emotion out of the process and give you the facts so your decision when purchasing a home is factual and non-emotional. We take a lot of the worrying out of the process for you especially if you don’t speak Dutch very well. We make sure you pay fair value for your property; we know what to look out for so you don’t buy someone else’s problem. Due to our strong relationship with other agents when it comes to negotiations often the selling makelaars favor clients who have a buying agent they know because they know that these clients are committed and has been vetted in terms of funding and needs. As well as this selling agents also hold a number of bookings on the two days they have for viewings purely for makelaars and as a result you have a better chance of getting a viewing with an agent than without.
We have a good name in the industry and are well respected with our peers, as agents who are hardworking, ethical and have clients who are invested in buying a property and vetted financially.
Most importantly we are working for you so we have your best interests at heart!
Tip(s) for future homebuyers. – when you do decide you want to buy a home, find a good mortgage broker (expat mortgages of course). They will help you understand your finances and for what amount you may qualify to purchase a property. Or they will give you guidance in terms of what you need to get in order to be able to buy a property in the near future!
After that, it is a no brainer to contact a good Real estate agent (Expat Property Broker of course) … and before you know it you will be moving into your new home!
SAFFA INDEX – Electricity (Kwh)
Music and sound editing: Etienne Swanepoel (from @africa_withet).