To furnish or not to furnish, this is the question

When it comes to renting out your property there are a million things to consider, not least of all whether or not to offer the property as furnished or unfurnished. Do you want to spend a good chunk of money on furniture which may end up unwanted by the perfect tenant? Do you risk showing your flat as an empty vessel? There’s no obvious answer, but we can give you some food for thought and some practical suggestions to help you decide.

What are the other landlords up to?

Roughly half of properties in Amsterdam are rented unfurnished*. Based on a study this month we’ve found that for properties asking rent of 1500-3000EUR per month in Amsterdam 56% are furnished.  In the higher bracket, 3000-6000EUR per month rent, the number of unfurnished offerings are greater, with 49% of properties offered being furnished.

So statistically it’s a toss up.

So what is the best option for you?  You will want a reliable paying, responsible tenant because… don’t we all.  To attract the right person here are some thing to consider:

  • Executive level expat professionals are often given the option to bring their own belongings, furniture and all, at the expense of their company and many often do.
  • However, many expats who do not intend to stay in the Netherlands long term are unlikely to want to bring a full household of furniture along for the temporary ride and will therefore be more interested in furnished properties.
  • Younger professionals and students do not often list furniture among their worldly possessions so furnishings are an absolute must.
  • In our experience showing totally empty flats can be a bit challenging for potential tenants (and buyers) to envision how to bring the property to life.
  • On the flipside, if you have terrible taste and/or way too much clutter, your risk devaluing the property’s potential.

What we suggest is: offer both options to the right tenants:  Furnish the flat minimally but tastefully as you market the flat, with the option to have the furnishings removed should the right tenant require the property to be unfurnished.

Here is a quick and dirty guide to getting this right.

Step one: 

Remove all personal items that can’t be stored out of sight in a drawer.  No one wants to see your vast collection of novelty shot glasses in what could be their kitchen.  Rent a storage unit if you need to but ‘killing the clutter’ is absolutely essential.  Read a short version of Marie Kondo and get on with it.

Step two: 

Consider a paint job.  Are the walls looking tired? Consider giving the property a re-paint before you start to show it.  Note that painting the walls in a single neutral tone throughout will give the feeling of space.  De Ru is a great paint shop on the van Woustraat in de Pijp which will be able to help you choose something subtle and inspiring.

Step three: 

Assess your furniture.  You’ll want to have these basics and not much more.

  • Bed (with basic linen dressings)
  • Chest of drawers
  • Couch
  • Dining table and chairs
  • A simple living room rug to pull the room together
  • Tasteful minimal wall decorations such as mirrors or framed artwork

Remember everything needs to look good, but doesn’t need to be new.  Consider using Marktplaats (Dutch second hand online market similar to Ebay) to do this on the cheap.

If you are going for a very upmarket demographic you can also consider renting furnishings which can be offered to the tenant via the rental company.   These companies offer the option to rent everything from beds and couches to soft furnishing like cushions and even plants: Moving In, Home Inspirations and Canoof

Step four:

Get the lighting right.  Ensure the flat is well lit internally and add some lamps if needed to brighten the space.  Consider some viewings may be in the evening after the sun goes down.  Consider unique lighting options such as string lights (lichtsnoer in Dutch) which are affordable and easy to move or remove.

Step five:

Get some fresh eyes on the space.  Ask a trusted friend to give you some tough love and look at the space objectively.  No friends with trustworthy taste? We are of course happy to come by and assess what could help stage the flat for the ideal audience.  Consider us your friends with great taste who aren’t scared to tell you you have too many coffee mugs on display.

Some tough-to-translate Dutch

You will see the following words in numerous listings.  Here’s a quick explanation of the three classifications of furnishing in the Netherlands which google can’t tell you:

  • Unfurnished – empty even down to the lightbulbs (seriously).
  • Semi-furnished (Gestoffeerd) – curtains / blinds, lightbulbs and basic fixtures remain.
  • Furnished (Gemeubileerd) – couch, bed, blinds, lamps, washer/dryer, the works.

The up$hot of furnishing

Here’s some enticing news. When you rent a property furnished it is customary in the Netherlands to charge for the use of these items as part and parcel of the lease.  You can estimate being able to add an additional 10-20% to the rental rate for full furnishings.  This will cover use of the items and normal wear and tear can be expected.  Look out Ikea.

So lets get started

When the time comes to rent out your flat we at Nieuw Amsterdams Huys can help you get a great tenant, keep the rent coming in, manage the property when things need repair, be on hand to help when someone gets locked out, and of course make sure you have an iron clad Dutch lease to give you peace of mind while you get on with your own stuff.

* We did our research.  Using the two largest property rental sites in Amsterdam, Funda and Pararius, we pulled data on properties in two ranges; 1500-3000EUR rent per month and 3000-6000EUR rent per month.  We tallied the results from both sites and averaged them to give you the percentages you’ve read above.  This study was done in April 2018. 

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