A year ago there would be the right to buy one. An apartment in Het Zandkasteel, a monumental building in Amsterdam, nationally known for its distinctive architecture. The immense complex is close to a metro station and a large number of shops. Entertainment can be found at the next distance, in the Johan Cruijff Arena, a cinema and concert halls for the biggest pop acts in the world.
There was no fighting over the 160 homes in the former head office of the NMB Bank (now ING) in Southeast Amsterdam. They were put on the market as owner-occupied homes in September. More than five thousand prospective buyers were interested. in the end only a small club was willing to sign a purchase agreement.
On Tuesday they were told that the entire project was being lifted from purchase to rental. The building is once again a talking point. When it was completed in 1987, it already caused quite a stir due to the anthroposophically inspired design by architects Alberts en Van Huut. With its towers and soft shapes, the complex was popularly nicknamed the Sand Castle.
Negative market sentiment
Can the project model stand for the turnaround in the housing market, now that the owner-occupied apartments are not finished? According to Martine Gründemann, development director of co-owner Zadelhoff, buyers were discouraged by rising mortgage rates and negative market sentiment. The self-occupancy obligation, intended to let buyers, would have driven away young buyers in particular. ‘They just want to be able to deal flexibly with their home, for example if they get a new job as elders.’
Zadelhoff wants to realize a total of 262 homes in seven of the ten towers. The asking prices of the first homes ranged from 275 thousand euros for a small studio to more than half a million euros for more spacious apartments. That is well above the price that is usually paid in the district per square meter of owner-occupied home.
At the beginning of October, the NVM brokers’ association established that the average sales price in ‘Greater Amsterdam’ had fallen by about 9 percent on a quarterly basis. The number of houses for sale was, on the contrary, strongly suspected.
Lightning fast cover
If you listen to real estate agents in Amsterdam, you will hear that the houses in the Zandkasteel have been sold too late: ‘Stupid bad luck.’ Due to the war in Ukraine and the rising rent and energy bills, the outcome on the housing market has changed rapidly.
Buyers are now distinguishing themselves again for more strategic considerations, says a broker. The choice is getting wider and underbidding is possible again. The same house may be cheaper to move into.
The rental market is still in the capital doing well. There, candidates even try to outbid each other, but with a higher rent. So the sandcastle will probably fill up, although not with the potential buyers.