American investment firms snap up €15 billion of Dutch housing market
Large institutional investors, often American, have bought over 15 billion euros worth of homes in the Netherlands between 2013 and 2021, according to a study into the role of investors in the European housing market, commissioned by the Greens in the European Parliament. These pension funds and insurers buy homes from which they expect a good return. The Greens blame them for the skyrocketing house prices and rents in the free sector, Het Parool reports.
According to the researchers, investors own 1.8 trillion euros of real estate in Europe. American investment companies and pension funds have bought 579 billion euros worth of European homes. The American firm Blackstone, which also owns many homes in the Netherlands, is now one of the largest landlords in Europe with 117,000 houses. For comparison, that's twice the number of homes in Dordrecht.
The institutional investors mainly buy in the big cities. In the past ten years, investors bought 5.7 billion euros worth of homes in Amsterdam, €4.1 billion in Rotterdam, €2.4 billion in The Hague, €1.1 billion in Eindhoven, and €960 million in Utrecht. But in the Netherlands, they're also targeting homes in smaller municipalities, buying 659 million euros worth of homes in Amersfoort, €103 million in Den Bosch, and €6 million in Tilburg.
"They are playing Monopoly with our houses, and they are just getting started. Houses are seen as an investment object to make a profit instead of something to live in," said GroenLinks MEP Kim van Sparrentak. "The most shocking thing is how incredibly fast investors are getting bigger and bigger and taking over the entire housing market. This is just the beginning. It is raining announcement of new investments in the housing market."
"This is an alarm signal for us; we really need to do something to stop this," Van Sparrentak said. "People buy to make as much profit as possible while thousands of people are afraid that they won't be able to afford the rent. There are fewer and fewer social rental homes because we have acquired a general belief that the market solves everything. Housing is a fundamental right, and we must ensure it."
The GroenLinks MEP wants the European Union to make regulations to prevent big investors from taking over the housing stock. The self-occupancy obligation multiple Dutch cities are introducing is "an important first step," Van Sparrentak said. "But the self-occupancy obligation is not enough because homes continue to be built for the higher segment that investors are attracted to. We continue to offer opportunities because the money has to roll. That seems to be more important in European legislation than people's right to live."