Expat Experience: Buying an Apartment in Amsterdam With Makelaar Mie-Lan Kok
After interviewing two makelaars, I decided to go with Mie-Lan Kok. I found an apartment in only two visits! Two of my friends also used Mie-Lan Kok and were very happy with them.
The Full Experience:
Within the first year of living in Amsterdam, my husband and I noticed a very strong pattern among our expat friends and colleagues. Most of them had either bought a place or were in the process of buying one. I caught an adult case of “well, everyone else is doing it” and started thinking about buying a house too.
However, once I started asking around about buying a house here, I kept hearing the typical Amsterdam buyer’s horror story, which is that people over paying a minimum of €15,000 over the asking price! I’ve even heard that some people even paid €70,000 over the asking price for an apartment in the Noord. Bidding above the asking price and still getting rejected isn’t how the real estate market works in the US so I thought this was strange, but since this is something I wanted to do, thought it’d be worth a shot to try.
After meeting with two makelaars and looking at only two places, we found a place within our budget that had exactly what we wanted. Best of all, we barely went above the asking price. Here’s my personal experience of using a makelaar to buy a house in Amsterdam.
Meeting With Makelaar #1
Knowing that my friend John had just bought a place in Jordaan and had a fairly easy process, I asked him to recommend his makelaar to me. I got in touch with a makelaar, set up a meeting, and began the process of looking for my place in Amsterdam!
On the way to the meeting with Makelaar #1, I was a bit anxious. I couldn’t believe that I was even thinking about buying a place. I had always been in that New York state of mind where renting your whole entire life was acceptable, or more often than not, done out of necessity. But then, there I was at the meeting talking with Makelaar #1 and about to lock in a part of my future.
The meeting with Makelaar #1 lasted 15 minutes, and I left with a head full of questions so it’s pretty safe to say that it was unhelpful. We covered how much his fee would be, what my price range was, and what neighborhoods I wanted to look at. I had specific questions about how getting a loan for expats would work, which resulted in more questions for myself to research online later.
Overall, this 15 minute meeting didn’t do much for my house searching process, and it was kind of awkward. After sharing the news with my husband, he asked his friend for his makelaar’s name, and although I didn’t feel like meeting with someone else since my friend had a good experience with Makelaar #1, I reluctantly listened to my logical self that said, “Hey, you should shop around”, and I set up an appointment with Marieke of Mie-Lan Kok.
Meeting With Makelaar #2, Marieke of Mie-Lan Kok
Going into my second meeting with a makelaar, I felt pretty apathetic since the last meeting didn’t go so well. Again, I didn’t care to meet with someone else and was happy to settle with Makelaar #1 since my friend had used to him, but wow, five minutes in, I was so happy I decided to meet with Mie-Lan Kok. Here’s what I liked about Marieke and Mie-Lan Kok and why I decided to go with them initially:
- Unlike Makelaar #1, Marieke did not assume that I knew how the buying process in Amsterdam worked. She detailed every step that we would take together to find a place and buy one, which included the timeline. Along the way, I’d stop her and ask questions, which she would promptly answer or write down to e-mail me back. Despite having read online what the process was like, having her explain it to me in person, and apply it to my personal situation and timeline was much more relevant, and in turn, helpful.
- When I told Marieke what my price range was and what neighborhoods I wanted to look at, she added her input as to how viable that would be and other neighborhoods I should be open to looking at. I could tell that my fee towards her expertise in the housing market would not go to waste.
- Marieke is one of the three (women) makelaars that make up Mie-Lan Kok, which meant if Marieke for some reason could not be a showing with me then one of her colleagues could come out in her place. Makelaar #1 is a one man show so if he was busy with another client or on holiday, then I’d be on my own, and with a market that moves so quickly, I didn’t want to take my chances of not being able to jump on an offer because of outstanding questions or negotiations only my makelaar could ask about.
- I asked Marieke the same questions about mortgage loans for expats that I had asked Makelaar #1, and she immediately responded that Mie-Lan Kok works largely with expats and closely with a tax company geared towards expats and a couple of notaries with translators for the legal process. She wrote my questions down and let me know she’d get back to me with answers, which is exactly what I wanted to hear— that I didn’t’ have to figure it out on my own.
Besides being informative, thoughtful, and thorough, what really attracted me towards Mie-Lan Kok was the fee! Their fee was half the price of Makelaar #1, and with three times the number of people and more resources to reach out to, this was a no-brainer. I signed Mie-Lan Kok as my makelaar. Now the house hunting process was really happening!
House Hunting Process
Mie-Lan Kok searched for houses within my parameters and sent me listings daily via e-mail daily. I also looked on Funda and Pararius on my own just in case. When I saw some I was interested in, I’d e-mail back, and they’d set up an appointment to view the apartment.
Marieke went with me to each viewing and asked questions to the selling makelaar about things I wasn’t aware of such as if the apartment owned the land it was on or if it’s a municipal lease. Even better though, she would ask me to sit down on the couch or look at something in further detail so I could get the feel of what it would be like to live there. It’s true– standing up while looking around is very different from sitting down.
After we looked at each place, I’d ask Marieke her opinion, and she was very honest with me. It even felt like her list of negatives were longer than her list of positives. I thought, “She should be selling this place to me, not making me shy away from it.” It was clear that she wasn’t only trying to make money but really cared about my future place I’d potentially be settling down for a long time in.
Most of the time, Marieke was available to chat or meet up, but when there was a possibility she wouldn’t be available, she made sure one of her colleagues would be– a huge benefit in working with a company and not just one person.
Legal & Tax Questions
Being an expat from the United State, I, of course, had a ton of questions about the law and taxes. Mie-Lan Kok works closely with a couple of notary offices and a tax office that specializes in expats so whenever I had a question, instead of doing my usual Googling, I would ask Marieke who would ask specialists for me.
Closing the Deal
My housing search ended after only two house listings! To be realistic, this is rare and may not happen to you, but nonetheless, I owe a lot of it to Marieke and her attentive team.
At the house signing, Marieke added a womanly touch by taking photos of my husband and me signing the photos. She also gave us a housewarming gift!
Overall, house hunting in Amsterdam with Marieke of Mie-Lan Kok Agency was quite effortless considering that I’m an expat from the United States. Right after I signed on my new home, my friend also signed on a new apartment with Mie-Lan Kok. It took her only 12 house listing visits to find her home within a month!
Because of my experience as well as two of my friends’ experiences, I can wholeheartedly recommend using Mie-Lan Kok as your makelaar when buying a place in Amsterdam! Please let them know that I referred them to you. They love knowing where their new clients come from.