Amsterdam houses on the Chinese market

2 October 2016

In the Guardian, London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced the launch of an investigation into the effect of foreign investment on the London housing market. In Amsterdam, concerns have been voiced over super rich Russians and Chinese buying up property, although this phenomenon is probably in its infancy compared to London. Newspaper het Parool reported that 15 expensive houses have been sold to rich Chinese and Russians in 2014 and identified a canal house, asking price 6.7 million euros, that had been sold to an ‘international investor’.[1]

The Guardian article mentions, «a website that aims to pair Chinese investors with property developers overseas». If Amsterdam property is offered for sale to Chinese buyers, it might be listed there, although houses may also be sold through less transparent channels.

It turns out the site currently contains some thirty Amsterdam houses, offered for sale by Christie’s, Sotheby’s and other agents. The median asking price is about 1.6 million euros, with a maximum of 7.9 million euros. Unsurprisingly, they tend to be located in the posh areas of town: Canal Belt, Vondelpark, Zuidas. Incidentally, the website also contains quite a few houses in affluent villages like Aerdenhout.

Juwai has published lists of most-viewed cities. In Q4 2015 Amsterdam was the 4th most popular European city among Chinese prospective buyers. In Q1 2016 it dropped to position 8, which suggests the ranking is rather volatile.

Mind you, I have no problem per se with Chinese or Russians buying Amsterdam houses. I do think it’s a problem when rich people - be they Dutch or foreign - use houses as an investment object and drive up housing prices. But this is part of a broader problem, to do with issues like wealth inequality and the social housing sell-off.

While the scale of speculation and unoccupied houses isn’t anywhere near what’s happening in London, the Amsterdam city government warns that «it cannot be ruled out that such developments will also take place in Amsterdam.» But as De Groene argued, that doesn’t depend on Chinese and Russians buying up canal houses, but on what we’re willing to do about our housing market.


A practical issue I ran into was how to search a website in Chinese. In a variation on a trick I learned from Henk van Ess, I used Google Translate to look up the Simplified Chinese translation of ‘Amsterdam’. Then I searched for 阿姆斯特丹 One of the first search results was the page NLproperty, which, as you’d expect, lists property in the Netherlands. From there it was easy to find the property in Amsterdam.

  1. Parool. According to city government data (pdf), 6 houses were sold to foreigners at a price above 1 million euros in 2014, which suggests the sources quoted by het Parool have a lower threshold for expensive housing.  ↩

2 October 2016 | Categories: amsterdam, data, maps