How to sell your house in The Netherlands
You're considering selling your house in The Netherlands, but what's the next step? This free online guide explains in 12 steps how to sell a house in The Netherlands: from finding a real estate agent to finalizing things with the notary.
Step-by-step guide, tips, and advice
If you are a non-native and not familiar with the procedure of selling a house in The Netherlands, then you probably have quite a few questions. In this step-by-step guide, we will provide the answers. Our goal is to guide non-natives and explain what you should not forget when you are selling a Dutch house.
You might also be asking yourself more general questions such as: What price can I ask for my house? How fast will my property sell? What would a real estate agent in The Netherlands do for me? Where can I find a good real estate agent? We will be answering every single question.
What you can expect
In this handy guide, you'll find 12 steps with tips and advice for selling your house: from the first orientation to eventually signing the bill of sale (in Dutch: verkoopakte). In your search for a buyer, you need to consider many factors. With this organized step-by-step plan in mind, you won't miss any details, making the sale of your house much simpler.
The first step is determining your own preferences (step 1), followed by finding and engaging the right real estate agent in The Netherlands (steps 2-6). Subsequently, the presentation of the property comes into play (steps 7-10). Negotiations (step 11) and the finalization at the notary's office (step 12) constitute the completion of the selling process.
In this guide we will discuss the following steps. You can skip to your subject of interest or read everything in order:
1 - DEFINE YOUR OWN PREFERENCES FOR THE SALE
Where do you start when selling your house in The Netherlands? What are your wishes, and what choices will you make? How do you determine the selling price, and what type of real estate agent will you go with?
2 - REQUEST QUOTES FROM REAL ESTATE AGENTS
What do you need to know about different types of real estate agents and their fees? How do you find the right agent, and what should you consider when requesting quotes?
3 - COMPARE REAL ESTATE AGENTS
Each real estate agent has a different fee structure. Making a proper comparison is essential. What factors should you weigh against each other, and what are the real estate agent's costs? Are these inclusive or exclusive of VAT (in Dutch: BTW)?
4 - INVITE REAL ESTATE AGENTS
Collaborating with a real estate agent requires a strong partnership. They must have significant experience and consider all your wishes. But do you also get along? What questions can you ask during the first meeting, and how do you determine if the agent is suitable for you?
5 - CHOOSE AN AGENT
Are you ready to choose a Dutch real estate agent? Then make clear agreements. How do you approach this, and what aspects must not be overlooked? Are there unexpected costs, and how are they determined?
6 - SIGN A SERVICE AGREEMENT
To officially start the sale, you and the real estate agent sign a service agreement. What conditions can you agree upon, and what happens exactly after the signing?
7 - PREPARE THE HOUSE FOR SALE
What do you need to do to make your house ready for sale? What minor or major tasks should you perform, and how can you make your house as attractive as possible to potential buyers?
8 - PHOTOGRAPHY OF THE PROPERTY
How do you take the best photos of the property? What mistakes are often made, and how can you do better?
9 - PROMOTION OF THE PROPERTY
To find the right buyer, you need to focus on promoting the property. How do you create an eye-catching advertisement? What channels can you use, and how can you utilize them optimally?
10 - PREPARING THE PROPERTY FOR VIEWINGS
Potential buyers notice every detail. During viewings, you need to ensure that your house looks its best. How do you prepare each room and what should you not forget?
11 - NEGOTIATING THE SELLING PRICE
As a seller, you want the highest price for your house, but you also don't want to scare away potential buyers. How do you best proceed during negotiations to ensure the buyer meets your wishes as much as possible?
12 - SIGNING THE SALES AGREEMENT AND COMPLETING ADMINISTRATION
You've found a buyer, and you're ready to finalize the sale. What does a sales agreement in The Netherlands entail, and are there any conditional clauses?
First, we begin with the super short version. When selling your house in The Netherlands, the most important things to consider are:
The usual way of selling is through a real estate agent
The common way is to invite multiple real estate agents to your home for a house valuation and a quotation. This gives you all the information you need to understand the differences and to make a solid choice.
Real estate agents are very diverse: be mindful
When comparing real estate agents, you will find that all agents differ: on the basis of costs, house validation and strategy of sales. Unlike in some other countries: in The Netherlands, your choice for a real estate agent has a big impact on the outcome of the sale.
A valid energy label is mandatory
Since 2021, a valid energy label (in Dutch: energielabel) for your house is mandatory when selling or renting out a property. This is required before even starting the promotion of the property on housing websites.
DEFINE YOUR OWN PREFERENCES FOR THE SALE
How do you want the sale of the house to proceed?
Once you've made the decision to sell your house in The Netherlands, it's important to carefully list all your preferences. Why do you want to sell your house? What's your goal? How will you approach this? What selling price do you have in mind?
Carefully consider the price, timeline, and process
When you decide to sell the property, there are three key points: the selling price of the property, the timeline within which the house needs to be sold, and the way you want the sales process to unfold.
In this chapter, we address these three issues, particularly the choices available and their respective pros and cons. Utilize this information to create a plan, giving you a clear understanding of what needs to happen, and enabling you to initiate the sales process as effectively as possible.
Issue 1: The Selling Timeline
The most important question to consider is the desired selling timeline. Do you want to sell your house as quickly as possible, or does this not matter to you? The answer to this question actually influences all further decisions in the sales process.
First, think about what you find comfortable. Do you prefer to first purchase another property (or transition to renting) and have that transition fully settled before beginning the sale of your current property? Or would you rather initiate the sales process first before looking for a new home? If you have decided to leave The Netherlands, you essentially only need to think about the time of the actual sale and the moment you would want to leave the property.
Looking for another property in The Netherlands
In case you are staying in The Netherlands and are looking for another property, the following applies to you (if not, you can skip ahead to issue 2).
Some people feel most comfortable first delving into the purchase of another property. The sales process for the current property is initiated only after it's clear which property will be acquired. The mortgage often presents a challenge in this scenario: after all, you wouldn't want to end up with two properties (and thus two mortgages).
Other people first sell their current house and then look for a new property. This is not inherently wrong because it prevents you from having two properties and two mortgages at the same time. An important consideration here is the gap between selling the old property and finding the new one. When you sell your current property now, an agreement with the buyer is made regarding the transfer date (for example, in three or four months).
This date cannot be too far in the future, as buyers often aren't interested in a property they can only move into in half a year. That might cause the buyer to back out.
There are several dates you need to think about beforehand: when do I want/can I leave this property, when does this property need to be sold, when can I move into my new property, and how much time will it take to move from the current property to the new one? The answers to these questions provide a clear timeline for what needs to happen according to you in the upcoming period.
Issue 2: Involvement in the Sales Process
The second question to consider is what role you want to take on during the sales process. In a nutshell, there are two types of real estate agents:
Full-service real estate agent - you show the property to the agent once, and then the agent takes care of the entire process (determining pricing strategy, listing the property for sale, scheduling and conducting viewings, determining negotiation strategy, conducting negotiations, completing administrative tasks).
Online real estate agent - you handle all the important aspects of the sales process and only have the agent list the property online on housing websites.
The choice of a real estate agent is significant. A good, local real estate agent provides convenience and almost always delivers a better sales result (quicker sales, higher yield). With a full-service agent, the time you need to invest in the sales process is minimal, and you can rely on the agent's experience in selling similar properties locally. Additionally, the agent already has a network of interested buyers at their fingertips.
On the flip side, an online real estate agent is cheaper because you handle the most time-consuming tasks yourself. However, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll be better off in the end.
Avoid 'Cheap is Expensive'
While an online real estate agent might initially seem affordable, the risk of a prolonged sales process is often a concern. A lengthy sales process can result in a situation where you have two properties (and thus two mortgages), or a situation where you simply can't purchase a new home because your current one hasn't been sold yet.
So, take the time to determine what you feel comfortable with and whether you're up for fully managing the sale yourself. In practice, 97% of homes in the Netherlands are still sold through a local full-service real estate agent, partially because it can be disadvantageous (especially outside the largest cities) to do otherwise.
When selecting a real estate agent, many people use a comparison tool to be matched with agents based on their preferences and to get in touch with them. This process also involves answering preference questions about how much you want to do during the sales process. It's an effective way to find out which type of agent suits you best.
Issue 3: The Asking Price
A house sells quickly if you ask for the right price. Is your asking price too high? Then your property might stay on the market for months. But if you set the price too low, you'll incur a loss.
If you want an idea of your property's price, it can be useful to take a look at the prices of similar homes in your region. You can request this information from the Land Registry for just a few euros per postal code or per property. However, there are also more effective, free methods.
A free property valuation provides the best insight into the property's value
If you want to know what your property is worth at the moment, a free property valuation by a real estate agent is an effective method in the Netherlands. The agent visits your home and determines the property's value for free and with no obligation. Because the agent hopes to sell your property afterward, the property valuation is free of charge.
Be aware: always get multiple free property valuations
If you contact one agent and request a free property valuation, the following will happen. The agent will come to view your property, inform you of its current value, suggest a realistic sales timeline, and provide the best sales strategy according to that agent. Additionally, the agent will inform you of the rates they would use for selling the property. However, there's a drawback to this approach.
In such cases, the agent will almost always present a standard rate to you. A standard rate is usually the highest rate. The result is that one agent has assessed the property's value, but you've been offered the highest possible agent fee.
Request multiple free property valuations only
The most sensible thing to do is to compare quotes through a comparison site for selling agents. Why? The agents responding to your request will already include a free property valuation in their quotes. As they are aware that they're being compared by you, they will lower their fee (sometimes significantly) to secure the contract.
The result is that you'll receive multiple property valuations (providing you with a very accurate picture of the current property value), and the agents will present a sharper price than usual, without you needing to negotiate. This way, you'll be presented with various competitive agent fees.
Of course, getting multiple property valuations takes time. On average, an agent will spend about 20 to 30 minutes on a free property valuation and informing you, as a potential client, about the likely sales timeline and sales strategy. This means that obtaining optimal information about the property value and receiving the lowest prices will take about 1.5 to 2 hours of your time (with a total of three to four agents).
Most home sellers schedule these three to four property valuations on the same day, so they can be fully informed about the entire sales process within two hours and make a well-informed choice of agent. For most home sellers, this is the smartest approach, as it guarantees the highest sales revenue and the lowest agent costs.
Determining the Asking Price
Experienced agents can advise you on what asking price is realistic and achievable. Naturally, there's a bottom price that you want to achieve at the very least. Usually, this is the amount you purchased the property for or the amount for which the mortgage was taken out.
Local, experienced agents have the best answer to whether a specific asking price is attainable or not. As explained in issue 1 "The Selling Timeline", the asking price of your property can make a significant difference. A lower asking price guarantees a quicker buyer. A higher asking price may also attract a buyer, but with the risk of a longer sales process.
Difference between Asking Price and Final Yield
The Dutch housing market has been changing direction for several years. In some years, it was common to always have a bidding war, while in other periods, it was customary to offer the asking price or even bid below it. A local agent can therefore best advise you on (A) what asking price is realistic and (B) what the effect of that asking price will be.
Smart Approaches to Determining the Asking Price
When determining the asking price, put yourself in the shoes of the buyer. Would you respond to your own property with the asking price you're proposing? Or would you rather check out a comparable house in the same neighborhood that has a lower asking price?
Also, ensure that you're in the right price range. A property listed at €299,000 is more often found than one listed at €302,500. This is because Dutch property websites such as Funda and JAAP work with price categories. A lower price category will consequently attract more attention to your property. More attention means more viewers, and more viewers increase the likelihood of finding a buyer.
REQUEST QUOTES FROM REAL ESTATE AGENTS
Gain insight into rates, services and options
Once you've made the decision to sell your house in The Netherlands, it's important to carefully list all your preferences. Why do you want to sell your house? What's your goal? How will you approach this? What selling price do you have in mind?
For many home sellers in the Netherlands, requesting quotes is the starting point of the sales process. What are the costs of real estate agents and what services do they provide for that price? We explain what to consider when comparing quotes.
Request quotes directly
The importance of making a good choice
You probably don't sell a house often in your life. So, you want to be sure that you find a good real estate agent to help you with this. An agent who listens to you, respects your wishes, and is a true expert in developments in the real estate market. Additionally, you want an agent who will do their utmost to achieve the best selling price for you.
A good agent knows the local market, advises on the asking price, guides potential buyers, negotiates, and draws up the purchase contract. By relying on a good agent, you can delegate a lot of work. Comparing quotes is a safe and sensible way to find that good agent.Request quotes from agents
Real estate agent associations
The Homeowners Association (in Dutch: Vereniging Eigen Huis) recommends choosing members of the Nederlandse Vereniging van Makelaars (NVM), the Vereniging Bemiddeling Onroerend (VBO), or VastgoedPro.
NVM - This is the largest association. The NVM was founded in 1898 and has over 4,000 members. This association is active in various market sectors and provides support to its members.
VBO - This industry organization has more than 1,000 members and was founded in 1985. Affiliated members are supported in building sustainable relationships with clients.
VastgoedPro - This is the smallest association with around 700 members, all of whom work in the real estate sector. VastgoedPro focuses on both real estate agents and appraisers.
The advantage of working with an agent from these associations is that they have a dispute resolution committee. This means that if you have a conflict with your agent, this dispute can be brought before the Real Estate Disputes Committee (in Dutch: Geschillencommissie Makelaardij). This is a procedure that is relatively simple and inexpensive.
Additionally, the associations have quality and education requirements for their agents and have improved general terms and conditions developed in collaboration with the Homeowners Association. Therefore, it's advisable for your agent to be a member of one of the industry associations. This way, you avoid risks and surprises later on.
Finding the right agent
Choosing the right agent is an important decision. Each agent has a different approach, a different fee, and different ideas about the asking price. Therefore, it's advisable to always make a good comparison of different agents in your area.
Do you want an active, experienced agent or a more passive one? This can make the difference between selling your house in a month or within a year. Additionally, the selling price of your house can also vary significantly from agent to agent. There are enthusiastic, driven agents who want to get the best deal, but there are also less motivated agents who don't put in as much effort.
Looking for a suitable agent is done by requesting quotes from different agents. This way, you gain insight into the approach and rates of each agent in your area. A good agent will customize the rates in a quote, provide a clear picture of the current value of your home, and explain the sales strategy they intend to use to achieve a maximum selling price.
It's important to determine in advance which services you want from an agent. Do you want to hand over the entire sales process or are there tasks you'd rather handle yourself? The latter option is naturally somewhat cheaper. Once you have a clear idea of what the agent can do for you, you can start requesting quotes.
When requesting quotes from agents, make sure they provide clear answers to all your questions:
- Are the amounts provided inclusive or exclusive of VAT?
- Which tasks are and aren't covered by the commission and startup costs?
- What achievable asking price does this agent suggest?
- What quality assurances does the agent provide? (NVM, VBO, VastgoedPro)
As a consumer, it's not always clear where certain costs come from, as not every agent provides a standard overview of all the work involved. So, always make sure this is clear before you proceed with anyone.
At HuisVerkopen.nl, we make it easy to request quotes from agents. You fill in your address and preferences once. We match you with the agents that best suit your needs. Subsequently, these agents will inform you, allowing you to compare and make an informed decision.Request quotes from real estate agents
The benefit of requesting quotes is that it's free and provides a clear view of the price and services of the agent. Moreover, the quote gives insight into the current value of your house according to the agent and what a realistic selling price would be. Additionally, the agent explains the promotional methods they will use and how they will proceed.
A quote is always non-binding. This means you're completely free to accept or decline the proposal. So, if you want to know where you stand, it's wise to request and compare quotes in advance.
COMPARE REAL ESTATE AGENTS
What should you pay attention to when comparing?
Real estate agents can be compared based on quality, price, and services. Which agent should you choose and why? How do you compare real estate agent costs, and how do you get the lowest price?
Compare real estate agents directly
The key to the lowest price
Prices in the Dutch real estate industry are customarily determined. If you request a standard rate from an agent, you'll often be presented with the highest rate.
You can derive many benefits by requesting multiple quotes and comparing them. If you approach only one selling agent, there's a high chance you'll pay the full price. In this case, the agent will quote a standard rate, resulting in potentially maximal real estate agent costs.
When you request multiple quotes, the agents you contact will be aware that they are being compared. This prompts them to explore opportunities to make the price as competitive as possible. Another advantage is that you can easily compare the different rates side by side. This allows you to immediately see which agents offer equivalent services but differ in price.
What real estate agent costs are there?
A logical way to compare agents is by looking at the costs of selling a house per agent. Naturally, you don't want to overpay. So, it's important to have each agent determine a price separately. An agent charges different costs for their services. But what's the average rate of a selling agent, and what costs are involved?
Regarding the price of an agent, you need to consider two types of costs. You pay startup costs. These costs are meant to list the house for sale (including photography, creating a brochure, and listing on house websites like Funda). Another cost is the commission; the compensation the agent receives after the house is sold. Agent costs vary per agent. A thorough comparison is therefore crucial.Request rates from real estate agents
When you engage a real estate agent for selling your house, you should be aware of startup costs. Even if the sale doesn't ultimately proceed with this agent, they have expenses that you need to reimburse. It's crucial to understand how an agent's rates are structured. Which services exactly fall under startup costs and which don't? This prevents surprises when you receive the bill later on.
Startup costs are an initial fee that gets the process of selling your property started. Think of activities such as photographing the property, creating a brochure, floor plans, and placing the Funda advertisement. These are all actions that cost the agent money. These costs are passed on to new clients at the start of the sales process.
An agent usually has around 10 to 50 properties listed for sale. By charging startup costs at the beginning of a new collaboration, the agent avoids having to pre-finance costs for a photographer, for example.
The average startup costs range from 250 euros to 550 euros. However, each agent is free to decide which actions they include in startup costs. This greatly depends on the services covered by these costs. Additionally, agents are also free to determine the amount they charge for it. So, startup costs vary per agent. Make sure to inquire about the precise services and startup costs when comparing quotes.
Startup costs refunded after sale
Startup costs don't always have to be seen as extra costs because many agents deduct the paid startup costs from the final invoice. This means that you pay an amount at the start of the sales process, but after the actual sale of the property, you'll receive this amount back. However, this doesn't apply to all agents. For some agents, startup costs are indeed additional costs and are not refunded afterward. This is another reason to compare the mentioned amounts and conditions of each agent beforehand.
The commission or agent's fee is a cost that depends on various factors, such as the state of the housing market at the time and the agent's experience. In the Netherlands, there's no legislation specifying how high the commission can be. So, you need to establish clear agreements with your agent. The commission can be a percentage of the sale price or a fixed fee. A percentage-based compensation is common as it offers benefits for both you and the agent.
If you work with a fixed fee, the advantage is that you know the costs upfront and won't face surprises. The downside is that with a fixed fee, there's less motivation for the agent to sell your house for the highest possible price. Whether the final sale price is 10,000 euros more or less, the agent earns the same amount with a fixed fee, removing the incentive for striving for the highest price.
With a percentage-based fee, the agent might be more motivated to sell your house for the highest possible price. After all, the higher the price, the more they'll earn. This form is the most common way of compensating agents in the Netherlands, as it benefits both you and the agent.
The usual commission can range from 0.8% to 1.5%, depending on the agent's rates. However, don't solely focus on this. Ultimately, the important thing is to find an agent you can trust and who considers all your preferences.
You pay the commission amount after the sale is completed. The commission is settled through the notary. So, you don't pay these costs directly to the agent. The commission is deducted from the sale proceeds you receive through the notary.
Most agents work with a commission excluding VAT (although the law actually stipulates that consumers should always receive a price including VAT). Therefore, it's important to carefully check if the rates in the quotes are inclusive or exclusive of VAT.
Most agents provide a comprehensive proposal. This means that the only costs are startup costs and commission, and there are no additional costs.
With some agents, there might be additional costs. These are extra costs that the agent incurs on top of startup costs. Think of marketing costs such as additional advertising or a different type of photos (e.g., aerial photos). But also legal research, property styling, or rearranging an empty property might fall under these costs. Note that these costs don't come out of nowhere. Such costs are determined in consultation with you. An agent won't undertake such actions independently.
In addition, some agents also charge subscription fees. This is a fixed amount, for example, 50 euros, that you pay monthly, regardless of whether the agent has performed any work that month. You pay subscription fees in addition to the commission or as an advance on the commission. However, subscription fees are not very common. As a client, this fee structure isn't beneficial, so it's advisable to avoid agents with this type of cost calculation.
Most selling agents don't provide insight into their rates on their own websites. So, if you want to thoroughly compare agent costs, it's best to do this by requesting different quotes.
INVITE REAL ESTATE AGENTS
Who has a good strategy, and with whom is there a connection?
Inviting agents to your home provides you with valuable information and an immediate impression of the agent, rates, property value, and expected sale price. The sharpest agent rates are provided at home.
A good tip is to be open about inviting multiple agents. This lets agents know they're not the only option and encourages them to provide you with an appealing offer. The most suitable agent can only be determined after several agents have visited.
How do I invite multiple agents?
It's not effective to randomly invite arbitrary agents. We offer a free comparison tool that allows you to easily select agents that match your preferences and property. Subsequently, these agents will inform you, so you can make an informed decision.Invite real estate agents
This way, you achieve two goals at once: you invite only agents who genuinely align with your sales process preferences, and you ensure that agents know they are being compared, prompting them to offer a more competitive rate than usual.
Questions to ask a real estate agent
When you invite various agents to sell your house, you can discuss the intended sales strategy, expected sale price, and sales strategy with each of them individually. Talking to multiple agents about this provides a complete and realistic picture of the possibilities.
At this point, your preferences from Step 1 (Define your own preferences for the sale) come into play again: do you want to sell the property as quickly as possible, or do you prefer to achieve the maximum sale price? What role do you want to play in the sales process yourself? When should the property be sold at the latest? Be transparent with the agent, so they can think along with you during the introduction. Your preferences determine the sales strategy. Examine how the agent handles your wishes and expectations during the conversation.
With each agent, you'll learn during the introduction which promotion channels they use and within what timeframe they'll do this. Do they have a clear (possibly even creative) promotion strategy in mind, or does the plan not go beyond "we'll list the property on Funda"?
Get a clear picture of property value and expected sale price
Ask each agent during the introduction to determine the current property value and provide an estimate of the expected sale price. Most agents will do this as standard. It's interesting to hear what the agents say independently. Do the agents provide a professional explanation? Why do they consider that sale price realistic within the current market? This way, you get a clear picture of the property's value and the probable sale price. Moreover, you'll discover which agents see opportunities that others might miss.
It might be tempting to choose an agent who expects to sell your property for a much higher price than other agents, but also carefully consider if the plan is realistic. A realistic agent who provides a well-founded story (even with lower sale price expectations) is a better collaborator than an agent who sets sky-high expectations without explaining the basis for those higher price expectations.
Ask yourself questions after an introduction
After meeting the agents, ask yourself a few questions. What impression did the agent give you? Are they knowledgeable and approachable? Was the agent punctual and well-prepared? Do you expect to work well with this person to sell the house? Does the agent have a clear vision regarding how the property should be promoted and sold?
Above all: do you have confidence that the agent will do their utmost to sell your property, or do you feel you'll be 'just a customer' to them? Motivation is essential in the real estate industry. Agents who work harder for their clients sell properties more quickly (due to their dedication) than other agents and put more effort into negotiating with potential buyers to get the best deal for you.
CHOOSING A REAL ESTATE AGENT
Pay Attention to Price and Terms Per Agent
Quotes have been requested, agents have visited, and proposals have been compared: time to make a choice. Which real estate agent will you choose for selling your house in The Netherlands, and what will you base your decision on? How do you ensure a good start of the collaboration with the agent?
Make Clear Agreements
If you want to collaborate with a real estate agent, it's advisable to first explore what exactly the services of this agent entail. Ask what the agent can do for you. It's often not enough to only ask about the cost of the procedure, but also about what you'll receive in return.
Does the listing agent take property photos, or do you take care of this yourself? Who arranges property viewings, and to whom can a potential buyer address their questions? The price of the agent partially depends on your preferences. Do you want the agent to assist you from start to finish, or do you choose to perform certain tasks yourself? In the latter case, you can save on agent fees. Perhaps you want the agent to help you sell your house but can handle the transfer at the notary yourself perfectly fine.
It's very wise to then put the made agreements about the sale and the corresponding price in writing. The agent will also suggest this. This document is called a "Opdracht tot Dienstverlening" (Service Agreement). Always read this confirmation carefully before signing it, and also carefully review the general terms and conditions. If there are uncertainties or if you disagree with certain matters, you can discuss this with the agent first.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Even though we already discussed this in the past chapter, due to its importance we will repeat the following: if you have spoken with different agents and want to make a choice, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did the agent prepare well for the conversation? Did they have information about the most recent sales in the neighborhood?
- On what points does the agent differentiate themselves from other agents?
- How about the personal connection? Do you have a sense of trust?
- How realistic is the advised asking price and the potential sale price?
- How high are the costs, and are they proportionate to the performance?
Price Including or Excluding VAT
Always inquire beforehand whether all prices are inclusive or exclusive of VAT (in Dutch: BTW). The agent must charge 21% VAT. A real estate agent is legally required to communicate their rates including VAT, but despite being legally required, it's not always done. If the price is exclusive of VAT and you're not aware of this, it can be quite disappointing afterwards when an additional 21% VAT is added to the agreed price.
What if the Sale Doesn't Go Through?
Furthermore, you should also clearly agree on the consequences if the sale doesn't go through. For example, the buyer might not secure financing for some reason. In most cases, you won't pay a commission in such situations. The law states that you don't have to pay the commission if the sale doesn't go through. However, there are agents who don't take this into account.
If you decide not to sell your house anymore and want to terminate the collaboration with the agent, you might have to pay withdrawal costs. This is usually a small fixed amount or sometimes a certain percentage of the asking price. How and when this needs to be paid depends on the listing agent.
The withdrawal costs are additional costs you have to pay on top of the usual startup costs. If the collaboration is terminated prematurely, it's often because you as the client are dissatisfied with the agent's services. It's not very pleasant to still have to pay extra costs to the agent in this case. Therefore, always discuss such matters thoroughly during the initial conversations.
What is the Commission Based On?
The commission is based on how quickly the listing agent expects to sell your house at a good price. If the agent expects a quick and smooth sale, the commission will be low. After all, a property that sells quickly will require the agent to do less work. If your property is more difficult to sell, the listing agent will calculate a higher commission. In this case, the sales process will be slower and more challenging.
A lower commission is not only cheaper for you as a client, but it's also an indication that the agent has confidence in a swift and successful sales process.
Negotiating the Agent's Commission
It's usually possible to negotiate the commission. When choosing an agent, you can mention that you're also in talks with other listing agents. If the agent is a skilled negotiator, this is their chance to prove it.
The commission is just a proposal from the agent. You are completely free to negotiate about it. Keep in mind that not all agents are open to this, for example, if they have already proposed a competitive price.
If you have only contacted one agent, you will often be proposed a commission of 1.5%. In this case, you don't have any comparison material yet, and it's not clear if the proposed commission is acceptable and to what extent there is room for negotiation. Do you want a better negotiation position? Then compare different listing agents and have a personal conversation with each of them.
This way, you'll already have a much better overview. If different agents propose commissions between 0.8% and 1.7%, for example, you can negotiate much better and convince a slightly more expensive listing agent to lower the commission a bit.
If you don't want to pay unnecessarily high commission, ask different agents to propose a non-binding commission tailored to you. The more prices you have on the table, the better your negotiation position will be, and the greater the chance of obtaining a lower commission from an agent who is your personal preference.
Keep in mind that each agent has their bottom price, and not every agent is willing to lower the price.
Switching to Another Agent is Possible
If you've ultimately made the decision to collaborate with an agent, but they end up disappointing you, pay the extra costs and switch to another listing agent. The frustrations of sticking with an agent you're not satisfied with can ultimately cost you even more.
In the Netherlands, you're allowed to switch agents. Make good agreements in advance about an amount you'll pay if you want to terminate the collaboration. It probably won't be completely free, because the listing agent always incurs costs for you. By discussing these kinds of matters in advance, you can avoid high costs afterwards.
SIGNING A SERVICE PROVIDING AGREEMENT
The official start of the collaboration with a real estate agent
You have chosen a real estate agent and you want to start selling your house in The Netherlands. To actually start the collaboration, you sign a document called the Service Providing Agreement (in Dutch: Opdracht tot Dienstverlening (OTD)). In this chapter, we explain what that is.
What is a Service Providing Agreement?
To initiate the sale, the real estate agent has you sign a document called the Service Providing Agreement. You give the agent the task to provide the agreed-upon services. This document also contains all the terms and final rates you have agreed upon with the agent.
Once this document is signed, the collaboration begins, and it's then up to the agent to place the property for sale in cooperation with you.
What conditions can you agree upon with the agent?
In principle, the form and content of a sales agreement are free. If you have specific questions or requests, you can communicate them to the agent. All agreements are then put in writing in the service providing agreement. Since the agent provides the agreement, they often have a number of standard agreements as proposals.
What is an obligation to make an effort?
An obligation to make an effort means that the agent is obliged to perform their tasks as well as possible and to respect all agreements. The agent guarantees that they will make the necessary efforts to sell the property but that the sale itself is not guaranteed. However, this is difficult to measure.
Therefore, it is very important to make clear agreements and to document them in writing. So, you're not paying the selling agent for the end result but for the efforts they provide.
What happens after signing the Service Providing Agreement?
After signing the Service Providing Agreement, the selling agent will conduct further investigations regarding the structural condition of your house. This includes the zoning plan, the Land Registry (in Dutch: Kadaster), granted permits, and soil conditions. All this information is kept in your file.
Important documents such as access to the ownership certificate, cadastral rights, costs and charges of your property, any drawings, appraisal reports, and other legal correspondence are documents the agent needs to properly inform potential buyers.
How can I terminate the Service Providing Agreement?
If you have a conflict with your agent and they are a member of NVM, VBO, or VastgoedPro, you can submit the dispute to the Real Estate Mediation Committee (in Dutch: Geschillencommissie Makelaardij). This is a straightforward and affordable procedure.
In principle, you can terminate or dissolve the service providing agreement. Terminating the agreement is possible but specific rules apply to dissolution.
Terminating the agreement
Terminating an agreement with the selling agent is always possible and doesn't need to be done under a specific notice period. In principle, you also don't have to provide a 'real' reason.
If you terminate the agreement, you may need to pay withdrawal costs to the selling agent. Most selling agents base these costs on the general terms and conditions stated in the Service Providing Agreement. These conditions allow the selling agent to ask for withdrawal costs if agreed upon in the agreement. Additionally, the agent is entitled to compensation for costs already incurred.
The conditions for dissolution vary from one agent to another, so this is also a point to consider when choosing an agent. If you anticipate that the sales process might be canceled, it's wise to clarify what an agent does in that situation. By negotiating this, you can have modified conditions included in the Service Providing Agreement, so you incur minimal to no costs upon canceling the agreement.
Dissolving the agreement
If you want to dissolve the agreement, you must be able to prove that the selling agent has fallen short. Perhaps they didn't put in enough effort to sell your property. This is usually difficult to prove since the selling agent is bound by an obligation to make an effort, not by an obligation to achieve results.
As a client, you need to compile a dossier in which you gather correspondence and demonstrate that the selling agent did not fulfill their tasks properly. Then, you can formally notify the selling agent of their breach through a registered letter. In this letter, you give them a final chance to fulfill their obligations within a specified period. If they fail to do so, you can terminate the contract after the given period.
After you've raised a complaint with the agent in writing, you can escalate your complaint to the Real Estate Mediation Committee (in Dutch: Geschillencommissie Makelaardij). If the selling agent is not registered with the committee, you can rely on your legal expense insurance. If you don't have that either, you can seek help from the Consumer Association (in Dutch: Consumentenbond).
Dissolving an agreement involves more steps. The advantage is that you usually only have to pay the costs that the agent has already incurred. You can avoid withdrawal costs and commissions if your claim is successful.
PREPARING THE HOUSE FOR SALE
Making the property attractive and increasing its value
If you want to sell your property quickly, it's important to make it as appealing as possible to potential buyers. Often, there are things that need to be done. In this chapter, we'll tell you how to prepare the house for sale. The real estate agent you choose will also guide you through this process.
Preparing a house for sale means that the house is ready to go on the market. From that moment on, the property's photography can be arranged, the property can be promoted, and the first viewers are actually welcome. A house that is prepared for sale is a house that is fully presentable and in optimal condition for being sold.
The foundation of a sale-ready house
It's important to present your house as light, clean, and spacious as possible. A sale-ready house stands out in a positive way among the competition and minimizes reasons for negotiating the price. A viewer is more likely to become a buyer, resulting in a smoother sale and higher returns.
The following tips can help you make your house sale-ready. A good real estate agent will also point out these aspects, as the house needs to be in the best possible condition to achieve a successful sale.
Perform a thorough cleaning and tackle tasks in and around the house:
Exterior of your house
A good first impression is very important. So, take a critical look at the exterior of your house. Stand in front of your house and assess what could be improved. How does your house compare to others in your neighborhood? Is your front door still in good condition, and does your garden look well-maintained? Trim the hedge, remove weeds, and mow the lawn. Ensure your terrace looks neat or plant a few flowering plants in a pot.
Interior of your house
It's crucial for potential buyers to see a house that is neat and tidy. A meticulously cared-for house instills confidence in potential buyers about the overall condition of the property.
Keep all furniture free of dust and ensure proper ventilation. Thoroughly clean the floors, windows, and remove cobwebs from the ceiling. This benefits not only visitors but also you. Empty all trash cans and dispose of excess items. Clear countertops, and consider removing appliances from the kitchen that you don't use daily. Items like toothbrushes and hair gel are better stored in a cabinet than in plain sight. Also, be mindful of managing certain odors (such as dishwasher or pet odors) within limits.
Not only can dirt and clutter distract buyers, but personal collections as well. Otherwise, attention might be drawn to them instead of your house. Also, keep in mind that potential buyers don't just look at your house as a whole but also pay attention to details. People might be put off by a piece of peeling wallpaper, a loose baseboard, or a slightly crooked kitchen door. Check the house for squeaky doors, loose wiring, dripping faucets, water rings, or mold spots.
Most people prefer a finished home that requires as little maintenance as possible. Houses that are less well-maintained are also less likely to sell quickly. Therefore, try to complete as many tasks as possible in and around your house. You can plaster walls to conceal cracks and damage. You can repaint chipped window frames.
A fresh kitchen is very important for a viewer. Does your kitchen look a bit worn? A fresh coat of paint or new doors can make a big difference. This also applies to the bathroom. It's crucial for everything to be as clean and free of mold as possible. If necessary, install a new toilet seat on the toilet or a large mirror in the bathroom. This way, visitors get a good first impression of your property.
Create as much space as possible in your property
A space that is overcrowded with furniture immediately appears smaller. So, try to make all rooms as large as possible by removing furniture and decorations. Smaller items should be put out of sight so that the property looks more spacious.
You can also consider storing some of your belongings externally. Are you not planning a winter vacation anytime soon? Take those suitcases and winter items out of the house and store them somewhere else. This also applies to clothing, old toys, photo albums, gardening tools, books, and more. This way, you might be able to remove an extra cabinet, creating more space.
The fact is that potential buyers can't always see through personal items. Photos, coats, children's crafts, religious symbols, and shoes in the hallway are best removed. Viewers shouldn't feel like they are walking around your house but rather their future home.
Ensure a good layout
Sometimes it may be necessary to rearrange certain pieces of furniture. This can help highlight the positive aspects of the property. You wouldn't want to hide a beautiful floor under a thick carpet. Also, it's better to arrange furniture in a way that the corners of the room are visible. Large pieces of furniture are best placed against the wall. If you enter a room and you're looking at the back of a couch or cupboard, it creates a less spacious effect. Do you have pets? Then check if their bowls and beds are in a logical location.
Empty spaces are not attractive, and buyers may not always be able to gauge the potential of an empty room accurately. Showcase the room's potential by placing a bed, desk, or cabinet.
Ensure a neutral appearance
You may love colorful paintings and bright colors, but this may not be the style of the viewer. Everyone has their own taste and ideas about a cozy home. No matter how much you've decorated your house with love, a viewer usually doesn't take this into account. Bold colors are usually a nuisance for most people during a property viewing. People who come to view your house want to easily imagine their own furniture and decorations in your house. This is much easier in a neutral home than in a house dominated by a distinct style. White walls work best. So, consider painting brightly colored or dark walls in a neutral or white color and store away personal items.
Maximize natural light
Light in a home can work wonders. So, clean your windows, open the window coverings, and remove furniture and plants that block light. A room looks much larger when there's plenty of light flowing in.
Provide floor plans
An extra bonus you can offer potential buyers is floor plans. These drawings display all the options of the house. The viewer then immediately gets insight into whether the house meets the size and number of rooms they need. Furthermore, as the seller, you demonstrate complete transparency.
PHOTOGRAPHY OF THE PROPERTY
Essential for Attracting Viewers
Is your house ready for sale? Your real estate agent will undoubtedly want to advertise with various property photos on the internet. Good photos make a difference in attracting as many interested parties as possible. We'll explain what to be alert to.
Note: if you have chosen a good real estate agent, the topics we discuss in this chapter are not relevant. A good Dutch real estate agent takes care of all this.
If you're selling your house through a good full-service real estate agent, property photography is almost always included in the service (and falls under the real estate agent's initial costs). Most agents have contacts with good property photographers or have a photographer on staff. In that case, you don't need to handle a camera yourself; your role is to ensure that the property is ready for photography.
Why Quality Matters So Much
People searching for a new home primarily do so online nowadays. You have only one chance to make a good impression. The quality of sales photos is therefore very important. When looking for a house, potential buyers quickly make a preliminary choice based on the photos.
Often, a potential buyer decides within just 5 seconds whether they're interested or not. If the photos don't catch their eye, it often doesn't lead to a viewing. This is why strong photos are so important. It's not about taking many photos, but about taking the right ones.
Common mistakes made in property photography:
When a viewer comes to see your house, you'll undoubtedly do your best to tidy up all rooms. This should also be the case for people who visit your house online by viewing photos. It would be a shame if a large space looks smaller in the photo because there are unnecessary items lying around.
Viewers don't want to see the same image twenty times. So, provide enough variation in your photos. About 10 photos in total are sufficient. More is also acceptable, but don't overdo it.
Not Enough Light
If you want to take photos of your house, wait for a sunny day. Beautiful lighting can make a big difference. Always take photos during the day when there's sufficient light. Also, take photos of the garden. If sunshine isn't forecasted soon, you can use certain filters to transform the sky from gray to radiant blue.
People in the Photo
The intention is not to have people in the frame of your photo. Viewers want to see the property, not be distracted by, for example, the owner appearing in the picture. If you're taking photos of a room with a mirror, ensure you're not included in the photo. Also, it's best to keep pets out of the picture. It might seem cute, but it can evoke a sense of discomfort in people.
Be cautious when using markings on photos. It's not wise to edit photos with text or markings to clarify something. For instance, if you want to photograph the facade of your apartment, avoid using conspicuous markings to indicate your apartment. If you choose to do so, opt for a very light color or slightly blur the other apartments.
Ambient Images of the Surroundings
There's no need to take photos of the area around your property. Potential buyers want to see the house; they can explore the immediate surroundings on their own. Posting landscape photos or pictures of a local playground is unnecessary and can even discourage viewers. Your real estate agent can perfectly answer the questions of these buyers and outline the pros and cons of the neighborhood if necessary.
Photos should provide a clear image of your house, but this doesn't mean you should show everything. Photos of the storage space or the toilet can be omitted. Focus mainly on the photos that are important and provide a good representation of the house. You want potential buyers to be interested, not click away after one photo. Always consult your selling real estate agent about this; if the agent isn't handling property photography for you.
Some agents have their own photographer on staff or hire a professional photographer. This naturally costs money, but this investment is usually worthwhile if it leads to a quicker sale of your property.
Tips for Taking Good Property Photos
Use a Quality Camera
Sometimes your smartphone's camera can produce a nice photo, but usually, the quality of such photos isn't optimal. A better camera yields better results.
Work with Proper Lighting
Photographing on a clear day can be advantageous, but be cautious that too much sunlight can create backlighting, often resulting in a large white area. Additionally, you can place extra lighting in dark corners or spaces. Opt for spotlights or white light rather than ordinary yellow lamps.
Real estate photographers use flashes to supplement or balance light. If you have the equipment and know how to use it, this is a great way to capture your house in the most appealing way.
Green Is Always a Good Idea
Plants, herbs, or a bowl of green apples give a fresh look to the space. They can even lend a modern atmosphere to an old kitchen.
Create a Sense of Space
Always make the room look as spacious as possible. You can achieve this not only by tidying up but also by showing as much of the floors as possible. Showing floor space introduces a sense of space in the photo. This means you might sometimes need to crouch down to get a good shot.
Keep the Camera Horizontal
Use a wide lens or keep the camera horizontal to capture wide shots of the rooms. Horizontal photos convey a spacious feel compared to vertical ones.
Showcase the Advantages of Your Property
If your house is surrounded by greenery, ensure that greenery is visible in the photos taken from within the house. If your house has beautiful authentic details like a fireplace or decorated ceiling, highlight these. Start with good overview photos and then take detail shots of the positive aspects of your house. After all, it's those details that can set your house apart from the rest.
Keep the Camera Straight
Sloping lines aren't aesthetically pleasing. If you don't hold your camera straight, you might end up with curved lines in a photo. These curved lines distract the viewer from the image you intended to capture.
Take Many Photos - Select Later
Take different photos of each room, each time from a different angle or with different lighting. Afterwards, you can select the one photo you'll publish.
Use a Photo Editing Program
Small adjustments often leave a better impression. Free programs offer plenty of good options to correct your photos. However, don't go overboard with editing. Special effects aren't necessary and distort reality.
Arrange Your Photos in the Right Order
Your first image is the most important. It determines whether people will click further on your ad (or not). So, never choose a floor plan for your first photo; opt for a real eye-catching image or a facade shot instead. For a residential house, it's customary to choose a photo of the front of the house as the first photo. For an apartment, the first photo is often an interior shot or an exterior shot of the building (if appealing).
Prepare Yourself Thoroughly
Want your property to stand out? Thorough preparation is essential. Good lighting, your camera settings, and a tidy house are absolute prerequisites. Are you taking all the photos yourself? Don't hesitate to ask your real estate agent for extra tips.
PROMOTING THE PROPERTY
Getting the Property Noticed by the Target Audience
There are many ways to bring your house to the attention of potential buyers. A good real estate agent utilizes as many channels as possible. In this chapter, we'll highlight the most effective channels for promoting a property.
Note: if you've chosen a good real estate agent, you don't need to worry about the topics we discuss in this chapter.
Placing an Advertisement
Today, the internet is a very important channel. Therefore, it's essential to present your house on relevant websites and social media. By now, you already have beautiful photos. So, it's time to place an attractive advertisement.
The text about your house should be unique. There are so many houses for sale on the internet that standing out is crucial. You need to convince the reader to buy your house. Create an ad text that is clear and appealing. Make sure to mention the following:
- The location of the house
- Special features of the house
- Why you bought the house
- Why the house is for sale
- New developments in the neighborhood
Funda is the most visited property website in the Netherlands. It's accessible to everyone, and thanks to its filtering options, users can easily search for houses that fit their desired criteria. Due to Funda's popularity, placing an ad is a must for maximizing exposure.
Note: only real estate agents can list a property on Funda. Consumers cannot.
When your house first appears online on Funda, it receives a tremendous number of views. Therefore, it's important that you not only have beautiful photos of your property but also provide a compelling ad text and accurate descriptions. A good real estate agent takes care of these texts for you in the most effective way.
Make the most out of Funda by creating a property video and activating the Top Position feature. Adding a property video gives visitors an extra opportunity to get to know your house better. Furthermore, an ad with a property video also ranks higher in Funda's search results, automatically leading to more online viewings.
With Funda's 'Top Position' feature, you can have your ad appear at the top of search results for a week or a month. During this period, your ad gains much more visibility, increasing the chance of finding a buyer.
Place Your Property on Different Property Websites
By placing your property on Funda, you can attract a lot of attention from potential buyers. However, don't limit your ad to just one website; place it on other property websites to gain even more visibility.
Keep in mind that if you make changes to your ad, you should do so on all property websites where your house is listed. Naturally, you don't want readers to see incorrect information. On Funda.nl, you can't make changes yourself; only your real estate agent can do this for you. A good real estate agent takes care of placing the online ad on as many channels as possible.
Naturally, you can also place an ad in the local newspaper to reach that audience as well. An experienced local real estate agent often has connections with the local newspaper to buy advertising space at a favorable rate and bring attention to the property. However, not every property requires this. Therefore, follow the advice of your real estate agent to decide whether to do this or not.
In addition to property websites, it's also recommended to utilize social media channels to showcase your property to potential buyers.
Share Your Ad on Your Personal Page
Share the link to your Funda profile on your personal Facebook page. Write a catchy text and mention a few unique points of your property, like stained glass windows. This is more inviting than just sharing a link.
If you want to reach more people than just your friends, ensure that your post can be viewed by everyone in your post settings. This way, many more people can see and share your post.
Use the Real Estate Agent's Social Media Channels
Many real estate agents have automatic features that automatically post properties on social media. By sharing the property on social media yourself while the real estate agent also does it, more reach is generated. Therefore, when choosing a real estate agent, inquire about what they do with social media for property promotion.
Place a For Sale Sign
Place a noticeable sign in your yard or hang a poster on your window. This way, you can also attract passersby. Want to be more original? Create a sign inviting interested parties to come in for a cup of coffee. This is welcoming and approachable.
After engaging a real estate agent, the agent can provide you with a For Sale sign and will place it in consultation with you. The For Sale sign includes the real estate agency's name, the real estate agency's logo, and the phrase 'For Sale'. Some real estate agents get creative with this, but most real estate agents stick to the typical For Sale signs you see in the street.
Note: placing a For Sale sign is not obligatory. You're free to choose whether to promote the property solely through online channels and offline media.
Open House Day
An Open House Day (in Dutch: Open Huizen Dag) is an ideal moment to present your property to interested parties. The NVM (Dutch Association of Real Estate Brokers and Real Estate Experts) organizes an Open House Day twice a year. About 50,000 sellers participate in this event. This day is widely announced through Funda and the media to maximize the number of viewers.
For potential buyers, this is very attractive, as they can view multiple houses in succession without needing to make an appointment. The Open House Day always takes place on a Saturday when most people are off work. It's just as advantageous for house sellers, as a large number of viewers can come, potentially speeding up the selling process.
So, stay well-informed about when these days are organized and make sure your property is ready to receive potential buyers then.
Take the time to show people around and provide honest answers to all their questions. If in doubt, you can always involve your real estate agent. Always be friendly, show interest, and have enough brochures about your property ready to give to visitors.
You can also organize an open day yourself, separate from regular viewings. However, you should clearly communicate this in advance, for example, in the online property ad texts.
Ask Friends and Family to Help
To further increase the exposure of your property, you can ask acquaintances, friends, family, and colleagues for help. Everyone in your network can contribute to reaching potential buyers. Start a conversation and mention that your property is for sale. You can also ask them to share a link on Facebook or send an email or WhatsApp message to people in your network. The more people are aware of the sale of your property, the greater the chance of finding the right buyer quickly.
Utilize the Real Estate Agent's Experience
In this chapter, we've mentioned the most effective ways to promote a property. If you're using the services of an experienced local real estate agent, it's advisable to follow the additional methods that this agent has developed in your region to bring a property to the attention of potential buyers.
Not every real estate agent has extra channels. Some real estate agents don't even look beyond Funda. That's why choosing a real estate agent with a clear and effective sales strategy is important.
PREPARING YOUR HOME FOR VIEWINGS
Doing What's Necessary to Turn Viewers into Buyers
During a viewing, your home should look its best both inside and outside. Before welcoming a viewer, it's a good idea to go through a checklist to ensure that everything is in order.
Note: If you've chosen a good real estate agent, they will guide you through this process and make clear arrangements. You can skip this section unless you're opting for an online real estate agent where you need to handle everything yourself.
Warm and Inviting
It's important for potential buyers to feel warm and at home without feeling like they are visiting YOUR home. Create a sense of calm by removing unnecessary clutter and working with symmetry. Before viewings, give the house a final check to straighten things up and tidy up any remaining mess. Try to make the house look just like it does in the photos. Familiarity breeds a positive feeling.
Naturally, viewers don't like an empty house either. So, be sure to leave some neutral accessories like plants and candles. You can even use photos of hotel rooms and spas for inspiration.
Below are some tips that will help you present your home optimally.
Prepare Each Room:
Start at the front door. Make sure it's spotless. A welcoming doormat and perhaps a plant will create a good first impression. Ensure that there are no cars or bicycles in front of the door and clear the coat rack so viewers can hang their coats and not feel like they're intruding.
Also, tidy up all toys and items from any pets. Put away photos, mail, and papers as well. Otherwise, viewers might feel like they're invading someone's privacy.
Place your dining table equidistant from both sides of the wall and arrange all chairs evenly. If there are areas you want to highlight or dark corners, make sure to have a lamp on.
A fresh bouquet of flowers on the table or a few fresh indoor plants create a pleasant atmosphere at home. Buyers want to know if they can feel at home, and greenery indoors can easily achieve that. However, don't overcrowd the house with too many plants; a couple of larger indoor plants are better. You can also decorate the dining table by placing a nice set of dishes on it.
You can remove scratches and stains from furniture using oil or varnish.
The kitchen must be spotless. Don't skip anything during cleaning. Think about the refrigerator, range hood, dishwasher, cabinets, and the countertop. Keep the countertop as empty as possible and place a bowl of fresh fruit on the table for a fresh look. Also, have clean hand and dish towels, empty the trash bin, and clean it to avoid unpleasant odors.
Make your bed with clean and neutral bedding. Also, remove laundry baskets from the bedrooms and ensure that all excess clutter is out of sight. Rooms should have a clear purpose. So, don't have an ironing board or similar things in your bedroom.
Don't forget the garage. It should look neat and well-kept as well. Clear everything and move your car out of the garage so viewers can see how spacious it is. Park it elsewhere, or turn it into an advantage by using the car to temporarily leave the house.
Also, take care of the garden by removing unnecessary items. Clean the garden furniture or store it away. Repair broken fences, remove weeds, and mow the lawn. You can reseed bare spots on the lawn if needed.
- Ensure sufficient ventilation before showing your house to potential buyers
- Keep all interior doors open
- Roll up or adjust window coverings, and make sure the windows are clean
- Complete all minor tasks, both indoors and outdoors (painting, loose baseboards, etc.)
- Provide furniture if the house is empty (rent or arrange through the agent)
- Fine-tune the presentation with professional help. A home stylist is trained to highlight a property's strong points
- Keep your house tidy
- If the sale of your house takes longer than expected, avoid letting clutter build up again.
It might not always be easy, especially with small children, but try to keep everything as tidy as possible. People see photos of your house and expect it to look the same in reality. While living is allowed, don't let household clutter accumulate too much. So, tidy up immediately. Make sure the laundry doesn't pile up, and put clean clothes away promptly. Also, put fresh sheets on the beds on time to make them look and smell nice during viewings.
Keep Your Pets Outside
If you have a dog or cat, it's best to keep them outside during viewings. Taking them to a place where you're also temporarily staying is also an option (and is often recommended by most agents). This keeps the house quieter and avoids disturbing viewers. Additionally, it prevents unpleasant smells, stains, and pet hair.
Make a Good Impression
Not only your home but also yourself needs to make a good impression (if you're conducting the viewings instead of the agent). No one likes to buy a house from someone who looks unkempt. The impression you leave is just as important as the impression of your house. You don't need to go overboard, but ensure you're dressed neatly and smell fresh. Greet your buyers with a smile and be prepared for potential questions. A good sales agent will usually handle viewings themselves, so in that case, it's important for you to be absent during viewings.
Bake an Apple Pie When Hosting Viewers
A Dutch cliché: bake an apple pie in the morning. Its aroma creates a pleasant and homely atmosphere that your guests will surely appreciate. If you're not interested in baking or don't have an oven, and you don't have time to go to the bakery, you can use an interior spray with the scent of apple pie. Scents like lime and orange also work well. If you find apple pie a bit cliché, you can certainly opt for offering cookies or other small treats along with coffee.
Have a Friend or Family Member Take a Test Walk
In addition to the agent's help, it's wise to have a friend or family member take a walk-through of the house. Are there details they notice that you might have overlooked? Two pairs of eyes are better than one, and this final feedback will prepare the house for the initial viewings.
Make Your Home More Attractive
If you've had a number of visitors but no offers have come forth, there might be some deterrent factors. A good agent usually contacts viewers afterward to ask for their thoughts on the property. The agent then finds out what prevented the buyer from making an offer. The feedback collected here is quite valuable.
It's advisable to adjust the house description and photos in online advertisements based on viewer feedback. If several visitors mentioned that the space in the house was disappointing compared to their expectations from the photos, this is something to improve in the online presentation. The goal is to attract viewers to your house, but showing an unrealistic depiction isn't helpful.
Other issues, such as deferred maintenance, can also be addressed after negative viewer feedback. An outdated bathroom might not deter potential buyers who enjoy renovations, but for many other interested parties, it could be a major turn-off. The same can apply to an outdated kitchen, flooring, or other dated elements of the house.
Large-scale renovations, of course, come with a cost. So, be practical and consider the possibilities within the property. What can you improve with relatively little effort and money to make the house as appealing as possible?
NEGOTIATING THE SALES PRICE
Achieving the Maximum Selling Price
If you've managed to pique the interest of a potential buyer, you can start negotiating the selling price of the property. Your sales agent can make a significant difference during this part of the sales process.
Naturally, you want the sale of your house to go smoothly. An important key moment in the sale is reaching an agreement with the buyer on the price. The prospective buyer often seems to have all the advantages, but with the tips below, you as the seller will also stand strong.
Ask for a Reasonable Price
You can expect a buyer to always negotiate about the asking price. It's better to set the price a bit higher than the actual value of the house. However, don't overdo it, as this can scare potential buyers away. A price that's too high can also indicate that you're not being realistic, leading buyers to doubt your reliability.
Treat the Potential Buyer with Respect
Both the buyer and you need each other. Treating each other respectfully is essential. When selling a house, it's also important to consider the buyer's wishes. If you approach things in a friendly and open-hearted manner, the potential buyer will be more inclined to negotiate with you.
If the buyer makes an opening offer significantly lower than your asking price, don't feel immediately offended. Offering 10% or more below the asking price is not uncommon. Assume that you will meet somewhere in the middle. So, don't just think about the profit you want to make; try to come to a good agreement together.
Determine Your Negotiation Room
Decide beforehand where your negotiation room lies before you start negotiating. What is the minimum price for the house for you? Can you make concessions in some areas? Think carefully about what you have in mind and where your limits are. This makes negotiations with the buyer much easier. Moreover, it also leaves an impression on the prospective buyer, as if they notice you have doubts, they will try to take advantage of that.
Know the Advantages of Your House
List out the positive aspects of your house. What features make your property attractive? The large garden, the nice finishing, the location, or the price? This is crucial, especially when there are other similar houses for sale in your area. Why should a buyer choose your property over the house across the street? Make sure you are well aware of all the advantages and highlight them during the negotiations. Consider offering alternatives and solutions for potential concerns.
It's not just the asking price that you can negotiate with the buyer. You can also weigh other things in the negotiations, such as the transfer date or movable items that aren't necessarily part of the property. Examples of movable items include curtains in the bedroom, a separate refrigerator in the shed, a playground in the garden, or even the entire interior. It's customary for the seller to indicate which movable items can potentially be taken over.
Try to Understand the Prospective Buyer's Perspective
Selling your house is often an emotional event, just like buying a house. The prospective buyer is already envisioning the layout and might even see their future children playing in the garden. Be aware of these emotions so you can respond accordingly. You can do this by asking questions and finding out why the potential buyer is interested in your house.
Don't Indicate that Every Offer is Your Last
If you receive an offer but don't expect the buyer to accept your counteroffer right away, avoid using phrases like "my initial counteroffer" or "to start with." The buyer might interpret this as an opportunity to lower their offer.
Avoid Putting Too Much Pressure on the Prospective Buyer
A little bit of pressure is fine, but if you have multiple interested parties, avoid forcing decisions. A buyer who feels pressured to make a decision before they are ready is likely to have a negative experience. This could lead to them withdrawing from the deal.
Utilize Your Sales Agent's Skills
If you enlist the services of a local full-service real estate agent, it's common for your sales agent to play a strong role during the negotiation process. This means your sales agent handles the negotiations and advises you on what is realistic and sensible. Ultimately, you decide on an acceptable price, but the sales agent can take care of the negotiation process.
It's often the good agents who distinguish themselves during negotiations. If you pay the agent a percentage-based commission, both you and the agent benefit from achieving the best possible result. This means you can trust that maximum effort will be put into obtaining the highest possible sales price.
Can You Negotiate with Multiple Interested Parties Simultaneously?
It's not allowed to play multiple bidding parties against each other. As a seller, you cannot negotiate with multiple interested parties at the same time.
If multiple parties want to make offers, that's allowed. You can ask both parties to provide their best offer without revealing each other's bids. As a buyer, you can compare the two offers and make a choice based on that. Also, consider whether the offers include a financing contingency. If you want to sell the house quickly and have as much certainty as possible, it might be more attractive to choose the party that can offer you the most certainty (even if their price is lower than the other party's).
Granting an Option to the Buyer
A potential buyer might want to take an option on your property. This means they have priority to buy your house at the agreed selling price within a specified period. This can be useful for the buyer if they are interested in purchasing your house but don't want to make a decision immediately.
However, it's not legally required to grant an option. If you do provide an option, make sure to have clear agreements about the option period and document this in writing. Once the option period expires, you are free to sell the property to another bidder.
Of course, it's best for you to sell the property to someone who is ready to come to an agreement immediately. Granting an option typically happens in situations where there are very few interested parties.
SIGNING THE SALES CONTRACT AND COMPLETING ADMINISTRATION
The Official Conclusion of the Sales Process
A sales contract or purchase agreement seals the deal for the sale of your house. All agreements between the buyer and the seller are documented in this contract. To avoid issues later on, it's important for the sales contract to be as comprehensive as possible.
Official Agreement between Buyer and Seller
Once the sales contract has been signed by both parties, the agreement cannot be revoked. However, the agreement can be dissolved by mutual consent. The sales contract is proof that the sale has been finalized and will later serve as the basis for the notarial deed.
The sales contract is prepared by the sales agent or the notary. An oral agreement is not legally valid. To finalize the sale, a written agreement must always be created and signed by both the buyer and the seller.
What's Included in the Sales Contract?
The purchase agreement includes the following points:
Details of Both Parties. If a company is buying or selling a private property, it should be clear which individual is authorized to sign the agreement.
Accurate Real Estate Property. For certain properties, there might be an option to sell the garage or parking space separately. This is mentioned in the purchase agreement.
Purchase Price of the Property. This is the price agreed upon between the buyer and the seller.
A security deposit or bank guarantee. This ensures the seller that the buyer is able to afford the transaction.
Movable Items. This is a list describing which items will remain in the house and at what price they will be transferred to the buyer. This could include furniture, curtains, or garden furniture, among other things. The list is attached to the agreement.
Conditions. All conditions related to the sale of the property are described. A common condition is financing contingency.
Condition of the Property. This describes the current state of the property. Does it contain asbestos? Is there a monument or a protected view?
The purchase agreement is sometimes also referred to as the preliminary purchase agreement. However, this is misleading, as a preliminary purchase contract is not binding. Once this document is signed by both parties, they must adhere to the agreements made in the purchase agreement.
Three-Day Cooling-off Period
After signing the purchase agreement, the buyer in the Netherlands has a three-day legal cooling-off period. During this time, they can back out of the purchase without having to explain why. The cooling-off period starts on the day the buyer receives a copy of the signed agreement.
Conditions for Dissolution
Dissolution conditions can be included in the purchase agreement. These are conditions that are usually discussed during the bidding process. The buyer can include certain conditions in the purchase agreement, giving them the opportunity to cancel the purchase if the agreed conditions are not met.
A common dissolution condition is when a structural inspection reveals that repairing a defect will cost more than initially agreed. If these costs turn out to be too high for the buyer, they can withdraw from the purchase without any cost.
Other dissolution conditions include:
- The results of the technical inspection don't meet the agreed conditions.
- The buyer doesn't qualify for the National Mortgage Guarantee (in Dutch: Nationale Hypotheek Garantie).
- Financing for the house falls through.
After signing the purchase agreement, the house is not yet owned by the buyer. The agreement specifies the exact delivery date when the keys will be handed over. On that day, the seller must hand over the property. This happens at the notary's office where both the buyer and the seller must be present. The notary then handles the transfer process.
Don't Forget: Energy Label is Mandatory
Through an energy label, the buyer can determine whether your house is energy-efficient or not. This is useful, as an energy-efficient home means lower energy bills and more comfort.
Since 2021, when selling your property in the Netherlands, you're legally required to have an energy label for your property. If you don't comply, you may be fined up to €450. When the property changes ownership, which happens on the delivery date, you, as the seller, are obliged to transfer the energy label to the new owner.
As soon as your house is put up for sale, it should already have an energy label. This is a legal requirement. In other words, your house can only be listed for sale once you have a valid energy label. You can check here whether your house currently has a valid energy label.
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