Half of Homeowners Expect Housing Prices to Fall; Self-Employed Fear Mortgage Defaults

Buyers wait at a safe distance outside an Amsterdam Oost open house
Buyers wait at a safe distance outside an Amsterdam Oost open house. March 25, 2020NL TimesNL Times

Approximately half of all homeowners in the Netherlands believe the value of Dutch real estate is set to decrease as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, a new survey by the consumer protection group Vereniging Eigen Huis reveals.

Released on Wednesday, the survey further suggests that the pandemic has also caused significant financial angst among self-employed workers in the Netherlands, with 14 percent foreseeing a possible delay in mortgage payments or even a default. Of these, three quarters (78 percent) cite a declining income as their reason for potentially defaulting.

The results shed light on consumer sentiment toward the real estate market in the Netherlands, as well as toward the broader economy, in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

While homeowner sentiment suggests that the pandemic has indeed thrown the real estate market into a period of deep uncertainty, disagreement nevertheless remains among homeowners as to the extent of this uncertainty. Slightly under half (45 percent) of the 1,176 people surveyed anticipate that the housing market will come to a “complete standstill” in the short-term as a result of the viral outbreak. However, a majority (78 percent) of homeowners expect that the consequences of Covid-19 on the real estate market will ultimately be only temporary.

Additionally, a slight majority (58 percent) of those surveyed believe that the adverse effects of the pandemic on the real estate market will last for between two and six months, while about a third (31 percent) expect the situation to last for longer than six months.

At present, financial assistance is available for individuals whose livelihoods have been particularly affected by Covid-19. Nibud, the national institute for budgetary information, for example, lays out the types of financial support that are available to self-employed workers. These include temporary wage allowances, and deferrals on tax payments.

In spite of this, however, Eigen Huis believes that the results of their survey suggest that the authorities should take even greater action to protect consumers—specifically with regards to evictions. According to the group, it is “irresponsible” for people to face eviction from their homes due to payment arrears, and that homeowners “must be protected from the consequences of the coronavirus crisis.”

The government has since announced that no evictions will occur for renters who have lost their income due to financial struggles caused by the pandemic.