Amsterdam Mamas talk to Henk Jansen from Expat Mortgages to find out how his business is demystifying property buying for families new to the Netherlands.
Who are Expat Mortgages?
Securing a house mortgage when living in a foreign city can be tricky, especially when the mortgage laws are alien to you and scouring through the bank documents is a challenge. Decoding the Dutch housing market is Henk Jansen, co-founder of Expat Mortgages. He tells us that "you are one big step closer to getting the key to your dream home once you get your finances in order and understand your payment plan." And this is where Expat Mortgages comes in.
Henk Jansen Answers our Questions
What is the role of a mortgage consultant? As a mortgage consultant, we assist our clients through the various stages of buying a house, beginning with the inventory phase, where we help them understand the terms and conditions of a mortgage and their eligibility to take one. We pool our resources and network of estate agents, civil-law notaries, valuators/appraisers, structural surveyors, builders and tax consultants so that our clients have a good start when searching for a property.
Once the house is finalised, we check the preliminary purchase contract, assist them with the signing of this contract at the civil law notary and explain the additional costs (kosten koper), such as transfer tax, notary fee, and evaluation costs. As a mortgage consultant, we help them in applying for a loan through a bank or institutes like Obvion, Nationale Nederlanden or Westland Utrecht. To make this task simpler and the paperwork easy to understand, we translate and present all documents in English, including the offer from the bank. Later, we help our clients arrange the necessary insurance (house/life/content) and preliminary tax rebate (free service at Expat Mortgages for two years). And, most importantly, we stay in touch with all of our clients.
Which part of your job do you enjoy the most? This job has its perks, the biggest being able to help other people realise a dream: having your own house in a different country. I interact with new people every day; understanding their situation and following their aspirations helps me understand the social dynamics. I get to know something about their country, their culture and their habits, and a significant part of my job is to explain them the same from a Dutch perspective.
You are one big step closer to getting the key to your dream home once you get your finances in order and understand your payment plan.
How long have you been working as a mortgage consultant? It has been more that 26 years now. I started working in the mortgage business in November 1988 and I have been an independent mortgage consultant for almost 25 years now. Together with my business partner Chris van Maasdijk, I started Expat Mortgages in January 2007.
When you began your career in this field, how different was the housing market? How has it evolved during the last few years? The housing market is constantly changing: from being a seller's market, it became a buyer's market and then back to being a seller's market - all in the last 25 years. This is a very interesting market to study, but for newcomers, it can be difficult to understand. Buying a house is an expensive investment and it is advisable that people hire professionals to help them with the purchase.
What are the advantages of choosing Expat Mortgages over a bank loan officer. At Expat Mortgages, we offer our services in English and there is special personal assistance. We have expertise in our field and a big pool of resources that can assist them through every step of securing a mortgage and realising their dream of owning a house here. We work from the client's side and offer independent advice.
Tell us about some interesting mortgage queries that you've handled in the past years? The reason I started this company was because the application of one of my clients, who was from Venezuela, was refused - refused for no other reason than not being Dutch. That triggered me to start this company. I’ve helped people, arranged meetings with them at Schiphol, and they've managed to buy a house even before arriving in the city officially - moving straight into their own house in a new city! People have bought house boats and old school buildings and turned these into beautiful places to live in and we have successfully managed to arrange a suitable mortgage for them.
This job has its perks, the biggest being able to help other people realise a dream: having your own house in a different country.
You must know the Dutch housing and mortgage laws really well. Tell us what you think works in favour of expats and what doesn't. Most people are not aware of this but expats with the 30% ruling are eligible to borrow more money than their Dutch colleagues with the same gross annual income. However, some banks don’t understand the influence or effect of the 30% ruling. If they see a salary slip with the net income of a 30% eligible expat, they just don’t get it, and this can be a major disadvantage for the buyer.
You interact and work closely with expats. For them, what is the hardest part about adapting to a new city? From what I hear, socially connecting to the new environment is their biggest challenge. Every city has its own set of dynamics at play. Building a group of local friends can be quite a job sometimes.
Is there any advice you'd like to offer expatriates who are planning to make Amsterdam their home? Try not to look at Amsterdam, the most beautiful city in the world, from a touristic perspective. Instead, try and see it as your new home, explore the neighbourhoods and make new friends. Bring something from your own culture and also, accept the Dutch culture.
Yours is a world of big numbers and endless paperwork. How do you unwind? Describe your typical weekend. Weekends are family time for me. An ideal Saturday begins with breakfast with the whole family, shopping for groceries at the Albert Cuyp market and doing voluntary work at the football club. I call it a day with a dinner at one of the great restaurants in Amsterdam with my fantastic wife Ilona and maybe some friends. Sunday mornings are reserved for football with my son Roy at TOS Actief in Watergraafsmeer and afternoons for helping my daughter Larissa with her homework. I usually cook dinner on Sundays. Asian, Italian and Surinamese food are my specialities. And I squeeze in watching the AJAX game somewhere in between. This gives me all the energy I need to help my clients in the coming week.
Disclaimer: Expat Mortgages has paid to be featured on Amsterdam Mamas because they believe that their services would be of interest and benefit to our readers, and we think so too. For more information on sponsored posts and advertising on Amsterdam Mamas, please see ourAdvertising and Disclosure policy.