Fewer homes sold in NL; big increase in mortgages

People waiting to view a home for sale in Amsterdam Oost, keeping their distance from each other due to coronavirus restrictions. 25 March 2020
People waiting to view a home for sale in Amsterdam Oost, keeping their distance from each other due to coronavirus restrictions. 25 March 2020NL TimesNL Times

Home sales in the Netherlands decreased by 12 percent in March compared to the same month last year, and the number of homes put up for sale decreased by 9 percent, according to figures from realtors association NVM. The number of mortgage applications, on the other hand, increased by almost a third in March compared to February, according to figures from De Hypotheker, NOS reports.

Given the coronavirus crisis, the decrease in home sales is not as bad as it could have been, NVM chairman Lana Gerssen said to NOS. "People may wait a little longer than before the corona crisis, but it may also pick up again in a few weeks," she said. The realtors also noticed a decrease on the number of potential buyers per house. But according to Gerssen, the bids on average are still above asking price.

"For the longer term, it is impossible to say, but for the time being the market is just going ahead," Gerssen said to the broadcaster.

While home sales are decreasing, the number of mortgage applications are on the rise. The number of mortgages increased by nearly a third in March compared to February, and by 54 percent compared to January. The mortgage advisor called the increase striking and contrary to expectations.

The increase was mainly due to homeowners deciding to transfer their mortgage to take advantage of the currently still low interest rates. "Everything indicates that mortgage interest rates will rise again for the first time in a long time. Fifteen mortgage lenders have already seen an interest rise," De Hypotheker said, according to NOS. People are also refinancing their homes to renovate or make them more sustainable. 

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