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How Dutch estate agents double their revenue

Ratty’s a bit late this week as I spent Easter in sunny Amsterdam. Whilst Amsterdam may conjure up certain red light district images for some, my wife Charlotte and I, along with our four children, found it to be the perfect family destination, and a beautiful town basking in spring sunshine, with tulips, windmills and bicycles everywhere! Highly recommended!

I can also recommend a home exchange for a recession-busting break. We took the plunge and swapped with a Dutch family and it worked out very well and totally cost-free. Ok, so they accidentally let our cat eat the hamsters, but they were good enough to get our local pet shop owner to open up on Easter Sunday so they could replace our furry friends in time for our return. But apart from that, we’d do it again.

As you might expect, one of the things I did was to check out how estate agency works in Holland. Apart from the fact that about 70% of property in Amsterdam is owned by housing associations and collective landlords, the sales system is as close to the UK model than any other I have seen. They do not have multi-listing (i.e. like us agents generally only have access to their own instructions, so some are a little lean at the moment) and, like us, they only charge between 1% and 2%, although there is a 6% property transfer tax.

However, one striking difference is that about 70% of buyers in Amsterdam employ an estate agent to represent them in their purchase, paying about 1.5% for the service. As you may know, I believe Buyer Representation to be the next chapter in British estate agency, especially when sales are thin on the ground. This was borne out recently by the astounding results of a 2000-respondent survey commissioned by the Association of Property Finders and Buyers Agents (APFBA). If you have any doubts about the opportunity to represent buyers, may I suggest you take a look at the survey yourself, here. It blew my mind!

Steven R Covey said, “Live out of your imagination, not your history”. Perhaps it’s going to take this market to challenge us to focus less on our history, and more on identifying, investigating and harnessing today’s opportunities, if we are going to enjoy a more secure and exciting future!