Buying? Selling? Renting? 27 House Real Estate has helped numerous Amsterdam Mamas to feel at home. Deborah Nicholls-Lee pays them a visit to find out why this agency is so popular.
27 House Real Estate is a certified* buying, selling, and rental agency situated in a charming monumental building, a stone’s throw from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam Centrum. It’s a sunny day and it’s a lovely location to be talking interest rates, scams, and tax.
As the Westerkerk bell sounds loudly, I arrive at the agency at precisely the same time as Charles Grayson, its founder, who – like me – has come straight from the school run and has that slightly flustered school-gates expression that parents wear at this time in the morning.
Inside the office though, he is all knowledge, reassurance, and ease, and I have the feeling that working with this agency is like having a friendly arm around your shoulder. And in the bun fight that is the housing market right now, it’s much in need.
So, I get to work picking his brain and finding out what makes 27 House so special.
Tell us a bit about the current housing market in Amsterdam
It’s very busy, active and competitive. The market dropped around 22% during the  crisis and now we’re finally back to the height of 2007. The rest of the country hasn’t caught up. It’s a perfect storm because interest rates are very low, so you are paying lower monthly rates for your mortgage, and the euro is fairly weak so a lot of international buyers are buying. After so many bad years, the confidence is up again.
What are the biggest challenges for expatriate buyers and how can 27 House help?
A couple of things: Finding a house before everybody else and getting one of the first viewings because things are often selling during the first viewing. If you have an agent, we can show you properties before they go on Funda [main property search engine for the public]. We also share properties before they go on the database, and other people do that with us as well.
We have a great network of notaries, lawyers, surveyors, movers, and mortgage brokers who speak English and are used to working with expats.
The other advantage of having an agent is when there are lots of people bidding on a property. Selling agents prefer to work with another agent. Once you have a deal and you go to the notary and send the purchase contract, by law you’re given a three day cooling off period…and people without an agent are more likely to back out of a deal because they didn’t know what they were doing, or they change their mind, or they couldn’t get their mortgage. Buying agents make sure that everything is in order with the financing and that all the right questions have been asked.
We also have a great network of notaries, lawyers, surveyors, movers, and mortgage brokers who speak English and are used to working with expats. We can put you in touch with our tax advisor who will arrange (at no cost to you) to have your paperwork filed so that you receive the appropriate tax refund on your mortgage deductions.
And for expatriates looking to rent, what services does 27 House offer?
The rental market is also very active and busy. There was an article not long ago saying that it’s actually peaked more than the buying market. We share our rental properties and other rental companies share their rental listings with us before they get out. A lot of times those properties don’t even go on the rental sites. So it’s also a big advantage to have a rental agent.
We help with the negotiations; we can look on the database and see what’s on the market and what’s been rented lately so we know what the values are so that you are not paying too much.
We can help clients expand their market knowledge and familiarity with the neighbourhoods, schools, and transport. We take them in the car, we drive them around. Since some of our team are expats, we know what it’s like coming here from abroad. We know how it feels to try to understand the differences. We can anticipate and answer a lot of their questions.
We are native English and Dutch speakers and we can provide language support as the contracts are all officially in Dutch. We do everything in both languages for our clients. We translate property listings and all the paperwork. We also make sure that everything is in order with inventory checks and deposits and we help you with negotiation.
If we’re representing the owner, we make sure that the tenant does not have any credit issues and that the owner actually owns the house and it’s not an illegal rental because there are a lot of scams out there. We’re experts in contract law so we know what questions to ask and what to put in the contract to make sure there’s no risk to our renters or our owners.
We have a great network of builders, architects, and people that do point-counts because there’s rent control in this country so, if you are going to rent out a property, you need to make sure that it’s actually in the free sector. Connecting up with utilities, internet and cable can also be a pain. We can help with that.
What makes 27 House exceptional?
Many agencies are strictly 9-5 but we will work evenings and weekends for our clients when necessary and go the extra mile. We are a smaller office, which means you get a more personalised service from our seasoned agents and are not stuck working with inexperienced or unmotivated junior agents.
We’ve done about a dozen episodes of House Hunters International and other real estate TV shows like the Canadian show, Live Here Buy This. A lot of our clients have been featured in the show or their house has been featured. It’s a lot of fun.
We work ‘no cure, no pay’, and we answer follow-up questions and issues even after completion. We do not forget about you once the deal has been done.
What is behind your philosophy?
When I bought my first house in Washington DC, I had a realtor and everything I saw he said, ‘it’s great, it’s fantastic’. He never listened to me and I ended up dropping him. I got another agent and she was so honest; she told me, ‘you don’t want to buy this house because of this...,’ and ‘This is what’s good, this is what’s not…’ So I built up a lot of trust and I ended up buying five houses from her in eight years and told all my friends about her.
Our whole philosophy is doing what’s best for our client, even if it takes a lot longer.
A lot of agents are just looking short-term for a quick deal and then they’re shooting themselves in the foot. Most of our business comes via word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied clients. Our whole philosophy is doing what’s best for our client, even if it takes a lot longer.
*Uncertified specialists are not insured for liability issues and are not bound by rules, regulations and ethical standards.
Disclaimer: 27 House Real Estate 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 our Advertising and Disclosure policy.
Deborah Nicholls-Lee is a British national who moved to the Netherlands in 2009. A former French and English teacher, she now works as a freelance writer and editor while raising her two children. See her website to find out more about her work.
photo credit: 27 House Real Estate