House prices continue to rise strongly in the Netherlands, buoyed by record low interest rates, and with supply unable to keep up with rising demand.
In Amsterdam, the capital, the price of existing homes rose by 6.23% during the year to Q1 2019 (3.6% inflation-adjusted), to an average of €472,375 (US$536,686), according to Statistics Netherlands (CBS). House prices increased 1.43% during the latest quarter (0.78% inflation-adjusted). Nationally, the average house price rose by 8.31% (5.63% inflation-adjusted) to €301,279 (US$341,161) in Q1 2019 from a year earlier, and by 2.75% (2.09% inflation-adjusted) from the previous quarter.
All property types rose in price, nationwide, during the year to Q1 2019.
- Apartment prices rose by 11.7%, to an average of €264,409 (US$301,147)
- Terraced house prices rose by 8.54%, to an average of €278,167 (US$316,817)
- Detached house prices rose by 6.85%, to an average of €437,633 (US$498,440)
- Semi-detached house prices increased 6.24%, to an average of €319,663 (US$364,079)
- Corner houses saw price increases of 7.18%, to an average of €287,343 (US$327,268)
After a housing boom lasting almost 15 years, the Dutch housing market weakened in 2008, and only began to recover in 2014. From Q1 2014 to Q1 2019, house prices rose by almost 34% nationwide, with Amsterdam registering spectacular price growth of 72%.
HOUSE PRICES, ANNUAL CHANGE (%)
|Sources: Statistics Netherlands (CBS), Global Property Guide|
Yet despite robust demand, property transactions are falling. In Q1 2019, the number of dwellings sold in The Netherlands fell by 9% y-o-y to 47,431 units, according to the CBS. That is partly because housing supply remains limited. In Q1 2019, dwelling starts fell by 6.1% to 2,108 units while completions rose by 6.1% to 2,093 units, based on figures from the CBS. Currently, there are a total of 7.8 million dwelling units in the country.
The housing shortage in the Netherlands was estimated to have risen to about 263,000 units this year, from 178,000 units in 2017, based on a 2019 report published by Capital Value.
House prices nationwide are expected to rise further during the remainder of the year.
“‘Rising prices, falling sales’. This was the housing market in a nutshell in 2018, and we expect the same for 2019,” said Rabobank in its latest quarterly report.
“Because supply of houses for sale remains low, we expect the number of sales to decrease further in 2019. For this year, we expect around 205,000 sales, whereas for 2020 we expect around 195,000 sales.”
“We also stand by our earlier prediction that the price index for existing owner-occupied homes will rise this year by 6%,” added Rabobank.
In the first quarter of 2019, the economy grew by 1.7% from a year earlier, the country’s 22nd consecutive quarter of expansion. However economic growth is projected to slow to 1.6% this year and in 2020, according to the European Commission.
Strong house price rises in all major cities and provinces!
House prices rose in all the Netherlands’ major provinces and cities in Q1 2019. According to Statistics Netherlands:
- In Amsterdam, existing home prices rose by 6.23% during the year to Q1 2019 (3.6% inflation-adjusted), to an average of €472,375 (US$536,686) - the 21st consecutive quarter of annual rises. House prices increased 1.43% during the latest quarter (0.78% inflation-adjusted).
- In Rotterdam, existing home prices rose by 11.08% during the year to Q1 2019 (8.33% inflation-adjusted), to an average of €265,494 (US$301,640) - the 16th consecutive quarter of y-o-y increases. House prices fell by 0.37% during the latest quarter (-1.01% inflation-adjusted).
- In Groningen, existing home prices rose by 9.65% during the year to Q1 2019 (6.93% inflation-adjusted), to an average of €218,536 (US$248,289) – the 20th straight quarter of y-o-y rises. House prices increased 6.08% during the latest quarter (5.39% inflation-adjusted).
- In The Hague, existing home prices soared by 11.82% during the year to Q1 2019 (9.05% inflation-adjusted), to an average of €312,959 (US$356,443). Quarter-on-quarter, house prices increased slightly 0.47% during the latest quarter (-0.18% inflation-adjusted).
- In Utrecht, house prices skyrocketed by 16.48% during the year to Q1 2019 (13.59% inflation-adjusted), to an average of €381,427 (US$434,424) - the 15th consecutive quarter of annual rises. House prices increased 6.83% during the latest quarter (6.14% inflation-adjusted).
The country’s major provinces:
- In Zuid-Holland, the country’s most populous province, house prices rose by 9.57% y-o-y in Q1 2019 (6.85% inflation-adjusted), to an average of €292,846 (US$333,535) - the 21st consecutive quarter of y-o-y rises. House prices in the area increased 2.22% q-o-q in Q1 2019 (1.55% inflation-adjusted).
- In Noord-Holland house prices rose by 7.03% during the year to Q1 2019 (4.38% inflation-adjusted), to an average of €389,048 (US$443,104). Quarter-on-quarter, house prices increased 3.19% in Q1 2019 (2.53% inflation-adjusted).
- In Noord-Brabant the price of existing homes rose by 7.63% during the year to Q1 2019 (4.97% inflation-adjusted), to an average of €304,799 (US$347,149) - the 20th straight quarter of y-o-y rises. House prices increased 2.24% during the latest quarter (1.58% inflation-adjusted).
- In Gelderland house prices rose by 7.59% during the year to Q1 2019 (4.92% inflation-adjusted), to an average of €289,304 (US$329,501) – the 20th consecutive quarter of annual increases. House prices increased 1.1% during the latest quarter (0.45% inflation-adjusted).
History of the Netherlands’ housing boom and bust
Median house prices in the Netherlands rose by 104% (73% in real terms) from Q1 1996 to Q2 2001, or by an average of 21% annually (14.6% in real terms). Amsterdam house prices rose by about 132% (96% in real terms) during this period.
During this period real private sector wages rose by 3.6% annually, leading to significant increases in purchasing power.
House prices continued to rise until Q1 2008, alternating between slow growth and rapid growth.
CHANGES IN AVERAGE HOUSE PRICES (%)
|ECONOMIC BOOM (Q1 96 – Q2 01)||POLITICAL INSTABILITY, ECON. DOWNTURN (Q3 01 – Q1 03)||ECONOMIC RECOVERY (Q2 03 – Q2 06)||POLITICAL INSTABILITY, ECONOMIC GROWTH (Q3 06 – Q4 07)||GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS, EUROZONE DEBT CRISIS (Q1 08 – Q4 13)||ECONOMIC GROWTH (Q1 14 – Q1 19)|
|Source: Statistics Netherlands (CBS)|
However with the global financial crisis the housing market went into a tailspin, and house prices fell by 6% (-6.9% in real terms) in 2009, as GDP contracted by 3.8%.
By 2013 things were so bad that the total number of dwellings sold in Netherlands had dwindled by almost half, to around 110,094 units, compared to an average of 206,000 dwellings sold annually from 2005 to 2007.
However in 2014, the Dutch housing market started to recover. From Q1 2014 to Q1 2019, house prices rose by almost 34%, with very strong increases in Amsterdam (72% growth).
House sales are falling
The number of dwellings sold fell in all of the country’s provinces and major cities. Transactions started to decline last year, after reaching record sales of almost 242,000 units in 2017.
West-Nederland accounted for about 48% of all property transactions in Q1 2019, followed by Zuid-Nederland (21%), Oost-Nederland (20.8%), and Noord-Nederland (10.2%).
By dwelling type:
- For detached houses, sales fell by 8.1% y-o-y to 6,526 units in Q1 2019
- For semi-detached houses, sales fell by 1.6% to 5,100 units over the same period
- For corner houses, sales fell by 11.8% y-o-y to 6,171 units in Q1 2019
- For terraced houses, sales dropped 7.8% y-o-y to 15,892 units in Q1 2019
- For apartments, sales fell by 11.2% y-o-y to 12,469 units in Q1 2019
Mortgage interest rates continue to fall
The average interest rate for new housing loans was 2.36% in April 2019, down from 2.39% a year earlier and 2.42% two years ago.
For new housing loans:
- Floating rate and interest rate fixation (IRF) up to 1 yr: 1.87% in April 2019, down from 1.92% a year earlier
- IRF 1-5 yrs: 2.09% in April 2019, down from 2.16% in the previous year
- IRF 5-10 yrs: 2.33% in April 2019, slightly down from 2.36% in the previous year
- IRF 10 yrs or more: 2.82% in April 2019, down from 2.88% in a year earlier
For outstanding housing loans, the average interest rate was 3.05% in April 2019, down from 3.24% a year earlier.
- Original maturity of less than or equal to 1 yr: 2.12% in April 2019, down from 2.23% in the previous year
- Original maturity of 1-5 yrs: 2.33% in April 2019, down from 2.42% in the previous year
- Original maturity of more than 5 yrs: 3.06% in April 2019, down from 3.25% in a year earlier
Free market yields are good
Gross rental yields in the small up-market decontrolled sector are good.
- In Amsterdam, yields on apartments range from 3.7% to 5.3%, based on research conducted by Global Property Guide.
- In The Hague, yields are around 5.6% to 6.4%.
These returns are not princely - but they beat many other countries, given the security of the Netherlands, its stability, rule of law, generally vibrant economy, and good long-term prospects.
The Hague is a less expensive city to buy in, and has huge potential since it is the seat of government and most foreign embassies and international organizations in the country are located in The Hague. In addition, several large international businesses have their headquarters in The Hague, including Shell, the world’s second largest company in terms of revenue. This means that there is an ideal group of expatriate tenants to whom owners can rent their apartments, as 26% of the jobs in The Hague are either offered by the Dutch government or by international institutions. In addition, for those interested in the short-term rental market, tourism is important, with 1.2 million tourists a year.
Rents continue to rise
Nationwide, the average monthly rent in the private housing sector rose by 4.9% y-o-y in Q1 2019, according to housing platform Pararius. The highest rent increases were in smaller municipalities outside the four major Dutch cities (Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht), amidst surging prices in those four cities.
For instance, in Schiedam, a city close to Rotterdam, rents surged 18.3% during the year to Q1 2019. In Almere and Haarlem, rents rose by 15.2% and 11.2%, respectively. Both cities are close to Amsterdam and are therefore an alternative for new tenants looking to live in the capital city.
Rent increases in the country’s major cities were moderate. In Amsterdam, rents increased 3.6% y-o-y to €23.28 per sq. m. per month in Q1 2019. In Rotterdam and Utrecht, rents rose by at least 7.5%.
In “free market” sector, which is 8% of the rental stock, rent increases can only occur once per year (applies only to basic rent), but otherwise depend on clauses in the contract. Usually, the annual rent increase is based on the price index number, or around inflation. Some contracts may also include a clause stating that rent will be increased to market value every five years. In 2018, the rent increase for dwellings (including rent harmonization) in the Netherlands was 2.3%, after y-o-y rises of 1.6% in 2017, 1.9% in 2016, 2.4% in 2015, 4.4% in 2014, and 4.7% in 2013. In Amsterdam, the rent increase was 3.3% while it was 2.8% in The Hague.
In the social housing market, the maximum basic rent in Netherlands for rent-controlled dwellings was €720.42 (US$721) per month in 2018, a 1.4% rise from the previous year’s rent control limit at €710.68 (US$809). Apartments with basic rents (excluding service and additional charges) lower than or equal to this deregulation threshold are classified as rent-controlled dwellings. About 92% of the rental stock (or almost 2.7 million rental homes) falls in this category, based on ABF Research and IVBN. The rent limit of €720.42 is valid until July 2019.
The maximum income allowed to live in rent-controlled dwellings is usually raised every year, from €34,229 in 2013 to €35,739 in 2016 and to €38,035 in 2018. In theory, only individuals with incomes below the aforementioned limit are entitled to rent-controlled dwellings.
More specifically, housing associations are required to let 80% of their vacant social houses every year to households with income of up to €36,798 and 10% to households with income of between €36,798 and €41,056. 10% of the vacant social houses may be rented to households with higher incomes.
However in reality, a large number of high earners benefit from these rent-controlled properties. A solution to that problem was a new regulation, which makes rental rate hikes to be dependent on incomes, amended in March 2013. As of July 2015, the maximum annual rent increases for rent-controlled dwellings are as follows:
- Households with incomes up to €34,229: ceiling of 1.5% + inflation
- Households with incomes between €34,229 and €43,786: ceiling of 2% + inflation
- Households with incomes above €43,786: ceiling of 4% + inflation
These percentages are computed over the basic rents.
Mortgage market continues to decline
During the past seven years, however, there was a sharp contraction - to 68.4% of GDP in 2018, from over 103% of GDP in 2009, according to De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB).
Dutch residential mortgage debt had previously had the fastest annual increase (41%) among OECD countries from 2007 to 2011.
The rise of mortgage debt was rooted in aggressive government promotion of homeownership since the 1980s. The Dutch fiscal regime allows full tax deductibility of most mortgage interest payments if:
- The house purchased is the main residence
- The mortgage loan has a period of a maximum of 30 years
- The profit made on the sale of the previous houses is used to reduce the size of the mortgage on the next one
Since 1995, 90% of new mortgages have been not repayable till loan maturity, while 30% do not have to be repaid at all (“interest-only”).
Generous mortgage tax relief, allowing homeowners to deduct the full cost of their mortgages from tax, has distorted the housing market, and saddled Dutch banks with higher risks by boosting loan books.
To discourage excessive mortgage growth, the government made some modest changes around a decade ago:
- In 2001 tax deductibility for mortgages used for non-housing consumption, or investments, and second-home purchases was removed.
- In 2002, interest deductibility was limited to 30 years.
- From January 2004, homeowners moving to more expensive homes have had to use their capital gains on their former house for down payment.
Starting 2013, the government implemented new reforms:
- The maximum mortgage tax relief was reduced to 38% from 52% over the period of 28 years.
- Mortgages must be amortized over 30 years to be eligible for mortgage interest relief. First-time buyers may have an interest-only mortgage on 50% of the property’s value, but the loan’s interest is not tax deductible.
- The maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio was slowly trimmed from 105% in 2013 (including the 2% stamp duty) to 100% in 2018.
- Effective July 1, 2015, the mortgage guarantee (NHG) for mortgages was reduced from €265,000 to €245,000, but was again increased in 2018 to a maximum value of:
- €265,000 for properties without energy-saving features, and
- €280,900 for properties with energy-saving features.
In April 2019, total outstanding housing loans were almost unchanged from a year earlier at €527.09 billion (US$600.32 billion), according to DNB. But new housing loans drawn amounted to €8.71 billion (US$9.92 billion) in April 2019, down by 3.1%.
Most Dutch housing loans are fixed rate mortgages (FRM) of 5 years or more. However very low interest rates have prompted some shift to floating rates.
The Netherlands’ inefficient housing subsidies discourage geographical mobility
Traditionally, Holland has had a large social rental housing sector. In the 1950s, owner occupants accounted for only 29% of the housing stock.
Then the government began promoting home ownership. Now about 60% of the total housing stock is owner-occupied. But in many major cities (Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht), about 50% of the housing stock is social housing.
Homeowners receive favourable tax treatment. Aside from full income tax deductibility of mortgage interest payments; capital gains from rising house prices are also not taxed. However, this is partly offset by an annual imputed rental income tax, based on the property’s assessed value.
The government provides home-ownership grants to low-income households. Many renters also receive direct government subsidies to keep their rent-to-income ratio within certain limits.
Out of the 57,703 total completed dwellings in 2011 (latest figure available in CBS), about 39% were rented houses while 61% were owner occupied. A huge proportion of rented accommodation is owned and managed by housing corporations, which manage about 2.4 million dwellings.
The system is highly inefficient in terms of social objectives. It also reduces mobility both for owner-occupiers and renters.
Modest economic growth, improving government finances
The euro crisis strongly affected the Netherlands, sending its economy into a recession in 2011 which continued in 2012 and 2013, with economic contractions of 1.1% and 0.2%, respectively. The Dutch economy is heavily dependent on foreign trade, with exports accounting for 83% of the country’s GDP.
In the first quarter of 2019, the economy grew by 1.7% in Q1 2019 from a year earlier, mainly driven by higher investments in fixed assets and household consumption, according to CBS. It was the country’s 22nd consecutive quarter of expansion. However the Dutch economy is expected to slow, with projected growth of just 1.6% this year and in 2020, according to the European Commission.
National debt continues to decline. During the recession, the government boosted the economy through stimulus programs and bank bailouts, resulting in a budget deficit of 5.6% of GDP in 2009, 5.1% of GDP in 2010 and 4.3% in 2011. As a result, the country’s debt rose to 71% of GDP in 2012, far higher than the permissible upper limit of 60% stipulated by the EU Stability Pact. By 2018, gross public debt had fallen back to 52.4% of GDP, as the country recorded a public budget surplus of 1.5% of GDP in 2018, up from surpluses of 1.2% of GDP in 2017 and 0.4% in 2016 and in contrast to deficits of 2.1% of GDP in 2015, 2.3% in 2014, 2.4% in 2013, and 3.9% in 2012.
Inflation stood at 2.4% in May 2019, down from 2.9% in the previous month but up from 1.7% a year earlier. Inflation is expected to accelerate to 2.5% this year, from an annual average of just 0.7% in the past five years.
In May 2019, the seasonally-adjusted nationwide unemployment fell to 3.3%, the lowest level since August 2008, according to the CBS.
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- House prices 7.2 percent higher in May (Statistics Netherlands): https://www.cbs.nl/en-gb/news/2019/25/house-prices-7-2-percent-higher-in-may#e8171249-7594-4865-9692-0912df8a1d75
- House prices expected to keep rising this year, homeownership unattainable for more and more people (Rabobank): https://economics.rabobank.com/publications/2019/february/dutch-housing-market-quarterly/
- Housing shortage in the Netherlands rises to 263,000 dwellings (Capital Value): https://www.capitalvalue.nl/en/news/housing-shortage-in-the-netherlands-rises-to-263000-dwellings
- Rents skyrocketing in areas around large Dutch cities (Pararius): https://nltimes.nl/2019/04/24/rents-skyrocketing-areas-around-large-dutch-cities
- Rental yields remain attractive in The Hague (Global Property Guide): https://www.globalpropertyguide.com/Europe/Netherlands/Rental-Yields
- Rented housing (Government of The Netherlands): https://www.government.nl/topics/housing/rented-housing
- Consumer prices; rent increase for dwellings since 1959 (Statistics Netherlands): https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/en/dataset/70675eng/table?ts=1561784789369
- MFI households deposits and loans, interest rates, adjusted for breaks (De Nederlandsche Bank): https://statistiek.dnb.nl/en/downloads/index.aspx#/details/mfi-households-deposits-and-loans-interest-rates-adjusted-for-breaks-month/dataset/efba2d4e-fb53-49a8-a1fe-d5ee3263e14c/resource/fa3ecc16-6bc1-4b35-b5de-c56b13d9cd36
- Euribor interest rates 2019 (Euribor-rates.eu): https://www.euribor-rates.eu/euribor-2019.asp
- Residential mortgages extended by Dutch MFIs to Dutch households, adjusted for securitisations (De Nederlandsche Bank): https://statistiek.dnb.nl/en/downloads/index.aspx#/details/residential-mortgages-extended-by-dutch-mfis-to-dutch-households-adjusted-for-securitisations-month/dataset/4621251f-8eb9-4c9d-8597-8ae091b789bb/resource/ee07759a-aa91-427d-b8f7-b105671a9a37
- Economic forecast for the Netherlands (European Commission): https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/economic-performance-and-forecasts/economic-performance-country/netherlands/economic-forecast-netherlands_en
- Netherlands inflation rate (Trading Economics): https://tradingeconomics.com/netherlands/inflation-cpi
- Netherlands unemployment rate (Trading Economics): https://tradingeconomics.com/netherlands/unemployment-rate
- Monthly labour participation and unemployment (Statistics Netherlands): https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/en/dataset/80590eng/table?ts=1561971414450
- GDP growth rate remains 0.5 percent in Q1 2019 (Statistics Netherlands): https://www.cbs.nl/en-gb/news/2019/26/gdp-growth-rate-remains-0-5-percent-in-q1-2019
- World Economic Outlook Database (International Monetary Fund): https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2019/01/weodata/index.aspx