Blog masonry

The Netherlands needs one million new homes, or does it?

The new Dutch government plans to build 100,000 new homes a year – taking the total by 2030 to around one million. But where does the figure come from? The NRC newspaper has been finding out.

The NRC says the ‘one million’ figure was first mentioned in 2017 by a Delft research bureau which has for years analysed the housing market on behalf of the government. It was later used by the Holland Metropole group as an alarm call, to alert ministers to the growing problems on the housing market and the need to develop a coordinated approach to the problem.

Despite the warnings from developers little changed, and ABF Research said again in late 2021 that 936,000 new homes would be needed by 2030. At the moment, the Netherlands needs 279,000 new homes to meet demand, ABF said. That figure is based on waiting lists, the number of young adults sharing homes, students living at home and people who in their 30s who have been forced to move back in with their parents.

The rest of the total is made up of homes that will be needed in the future. The CBS estimates that by the end of 2040, over 19 million people will live in the Netherlands, largely due to immigration. That will require 436,000 new homes, ABF said.

Households are also getting smaller. By 2035, the average household will have 2.07 people, half the size of a household in 1950, according to CBS forecasts. That growth too will require 243,000 new homes.

In addition, 118,000 homes will need to be replaced because they have been demolished.


The one million ‘is not cast in concrete’, housing market professor Johan Conijn told the NRC. ‘It is based on expectations about the future which may not come true.’ Social geography professor Jan Latten told the paper that prognoses are crucial because of the length of time it takes to develop new residential areas in the Netherlands.

He points out that immigration has consistently been under-estimated and that construction has failed to keep up with the changes. This means, he said, that the one million estimate could well be on the low side.

Conijn said long waiting lists, first-time buyers and renters who cannot get a foot on the housing ladder, and the high rental and purchase prices are all evidence of the problems facing the housing market.

‘The shortage of housing can grow or shrink, but it is extremely dependent on demographic developments and people’s housing preferences,’ he said.

In total, permits to build 74,000 new homes were approved in the Netherlands last year, a rise of 10% on 2020 and the highest number in more than 10 years, according to the CBS.

Holland Metropole heads for MIPIM

The Holland Metropole alliance will be taking part in the MIPM real estate trade fair in Cannes from March 15 to 18, with a heavyweight delegation of top tier cities, developers and investors. Several leading Dutch architects’ bureaus and innovative start-ups are also part of the package – providing a complete cross section of the Dutch real estate sector.  

This year, the Holland Metropole focus is on climate change and timber-based construction and MIPIM visitors will be able to find out more about the cutting edge work by the 14 alliance partners at the stand (C19.E).

The Netherlands also has a new government, and MIPIM visitors can to catch up on the latest measures to boost the supply of affordable housing at a national level, and find out more about the implications of the plans for international developers and investors.


Last year’s floods in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium brought home just how important it is to tackle climate change and to deal with excess water caused by increasingly heavy rainfall. After all, with some 25% of the Netherlands below sea level, the country as a whole is vulnerable to the impact of rising sea levels and excess river water.

Across the Dutch real estate sector, climate change targets are becoming increasingly important and the themes of circular construction, carbon emission reduction and water management are at the forefront of the Holland Metropole approach, whether local authority, developer or investor.

Timber-based construction is also top of the to-do list of every climate-aware developer and real estate investor.


In the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, for example, developers, investors and local authorities have signed a new Timber Green Deal, based on a real commitment to the use of wood. 

‘Awareness has grown across everyone involved in the real estate and development sector that building with timber on a large scale is essential if we want to meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement and speed up the supply of housing,’ says Bob van der Zande, programme director Houtbouw MRA.

Timber based construction is environment friendly as well. Experts have calculated, for example, that if the one million new homes which the Netherlands will need by 2030 are made primarily from wood rather than concrete, it would save 50 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions.


You can find out more about what Dutch cities and companies are doing in both these key areas by visiting the Holland Metropole stand.

As usual, the stand (C19.E) will also have a wide range of facilities on offer, from a bar and catering to charging points for mobiles and laptops, as well as plenty of room for networking and one-to-one meetings.

Housing permits reach a record, as new minister ‘takes back control’

In total, permits to build 74,000 new homes were approved in the Netherlands last year, a rise of 10% on 2020 and the highest number in more than 10 years, according to the Dutch national statistics office CBS.

One third of the licences were given to build rental housing while the rest is made up of properties for sale – across all price ranges. Most new permits – 19,000 – were handed out in the province of Zuid Holland, which includes Holland Metropole partners Rotterdam and The Hague.

‘The number of permits is an indicator of the number of new homes which will be built in the coming years, but the average time to build after licencing is around two years,’ the CBS said. The total does not include new homes which are realised from repurposing other buildings, such as empty offices or schools.

Government plans

The figures were published just as new housing minister Hugo de Jonge outlined his plans to realise one million new homes over the next 10 years.

The minister told MPs earlier this month that he is currently working on a National Housing and Construction Agenda which will have six underlying themes: construction, housing for focus groups and the elderly, quality of life, sustainability, spatial planning and choices for the future.

‘This programmatic approach focuses more directly on concrete goals, monitoring and control so that the ministry can make sound agreements with everyone involved and to ensure everyone takes their fair share in solving public housing and planning issues,’ the minister told MPs.

Developers and investors have been calling on the government to take a more coordinating role in the provision of more residential housing for some time. De Jonge said earlier that he wants to speed up procedures and cut red tape. 


The raw plan covering how the government intends to speed up construction will be presented in mid March, while in early April, the focus will be on housing for special groups such as the elderly and students. Later, attention will switch to affordable housing – both to buy and to rent – and the government is already committed to introducing more restrictions on private landlords. 

‘I want the government to take back control again with regard to this fundamental right to housing, as well as in the field of spatial planning,’ De Jonge said in a briefing to MPs.

The government’s role in recent years has become too small and for too long people have believed that the market would automatically provide a solution, he said. ‘It is all the more important to take control now because of the enormous shortage [of housing].’

Supply continues to shrink as housing market pressures intensify

Figures from the Dutch real estate agents’ association NVM show that the supply of housing in the Netherlands continues to shrink, with 23% fewer houses changing hands in the final quarter of 2021, when compared with the year-earlier period.

At the same time, the average price of an existing home rose almost 21% to €438,000 while for new builds, the increase was 14%, to €466,000. Some 80% sold for more than the asking price.

‘Homeowners are not putting their property up for sale without the prospect of finding another suitable one,’ NVM chairman Onno Hoes said. ‘The completion and realisation of new construction is stagnating… which is why we need to increase the volume of new construction quickly.’

According to NVM figures, just 8,800 new homes were put on the market in the final quarter of 2021, down 22% on 2020 and the lowest figure since 2013. Of them, 40% cost more than €500,000 and around one thousand more than €1m.


Hoes called on new housing minister Hugo de Jonge to set up what he called a “Construction Stimulation Team” which would include a wide range of organisations from across the real estate and public sector, and which would support the minister constructively with advice and help accelerate the construction process.

The new cabinet has set a target of building 100,000 new homes every year in an effort to meet demand. ‘People have to be able to count on the security of having their own home,’ De Jonge said in a ministry video message.

Economists point out that even if the government’s plans are realized, new homes are not built overnight and there will be little impact in the short term.


Real estate agent Lana Gerssen, who heads the NVM’s residential section, said that certain groups are already being blamed for the current shortage of homes. ‘Pensioners are being told [they are a problem] because they do not want to move,’ she said. ‘But that is too easy. There are no homes on offer which are suitable for this group.’

Gerssen said there is a role for the real estate sector in solving this, by mapping supply and demand. ‘This will enable us to help local, regional and national government with their housing policy issues,’ she said.

Dutch developers’ association NEPROM has already welcomed the new government’s plans, saying the resources earmarked for housing will make it possible for the new minister to be effective, as long as he has a proper coordinating role across all the government departments involved in the process.

Dutch housing market challenge has ‘no quick fix’, says new minister

New Dutch housing minister Hugo de Jonge has described the challenge he faces to increase the number of affordable homes in the Netherlands as ‘considerable’ and says that there is no quick fix.

De Jonge, the first minister appointed to focus purely on the housing market in 10 years, told MPs during his first debate on the government’s plans that he intends to take a coordinating role in solving the problem.

‘For too long we have thought that the market can solve things,’ he said.

The new government has pledged to increase the housing stock in the Netherlands by one million units by 2030 and to take a number of other steps to boost the supply of more affordable rental and owner-occupier homes.

‘If we are convinced that the government should be more involved, then we have to have the instruments at our disposal to realise more housing,’ he said.

Red tape

First of all, the government plans to make it easier to actually build a house. It currently takes around seven years from start to finish, with planning and permissions taking an average of five. ‘We have to do something to speed up the procedures,’ De Jonge said.

Prefabrication and standardization will also have a role to play, he said. ‘It might sound boring, to have all the same sorts of houses, but that is no longer the case.’.

Research by construction sector lobby group Cobouw and the Follow The Money news platform suggests that many of the housing units scheduled to be built up to 2025 will never materialize because there is no uniform overview of which plans are realistic and which have not yet been approved.

Only 400,000 of the 1.2 million homes currently being planned are actually confirmed because of the different definitions used by local authorities, FTM said.

For example, in Noord Holland province, a project is considered to be ‘hard’ if the local authority votes in favour of the zoning plan. But in Overijssel, a project is only confirmed if the zoning plan has been declared to be final.

Coen van Rooyen, director of residential construction lobby group WoningbouwersNL told the regional paper De Stentor that all housing projects should be collected together in a single website.

‘Then you can see what plans there are, from those at the very early stage to completion,’ he said. ‘If nothing happens on a project for six months then an alarm should go off and the minister should be able to contact the local planning chief and find out what is going on.’

Hugo de Jonge to take charge of housing crisis for new Dutch government

As expected, the new Dutch government has a specialised minister for housing, who will be charged with solving the country’s residential property crisis and boosting the supply of affordable homes.

Hugo de Jonge, a Christian Democrat who was health minister in the outgoing government, is moving to the home affairs ministry in the new role of minister for housing and spatial planning.

De Jonge, who has headed up the government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, told reporters he was very much looking forward to his new role. ‘I am very pleased that I can take on this new task in such an important field,’ he said. ‘But I do have to learn the ropes.’

Complex issues

The new government – a four-party coalition made up of two Liberal and two Christian parties – has made tackling the housing crisis a key part of its strategy for the next few years and unveiled a wide range of plans in the coalition agreement.

Calls for a minister with specific responsibility for housing had come from across the real estate sector and the new government has said the current building regulations, seen as a major bottleneck to development, will be streamlined. The government will also continue to invest in specific projects via a public housing fund.

De Jonge, 44 and a primary school teacher by profession, came in for considerable criticism during the coronavirus pandemic, partly because of the slow start to the Dutch vaccination programme, but was praised for his dedication and grasp of the complex issues.


Dutch developers’ association NEPROM has welcomed the new government’s plans, saying the resources earmarked for housing will make it possible for the new minister to be effective and that the new coalition agreement is an excellent basis for cooperation in the coming years.

In particular, the decision to allocate €7.5bn to infrastructure in new residential areas will help improve the quality of living environment, NEPROM chairwoman Desirée Uitzetters said. ‘The new minister will have a coordinating role in this,’ she said.  ‘In this way, the money from various ministries can be used precisely in those places where the return is maximised.’

Residential construction sector lobby group WoningBouwersNL, which includes several Holland Metropole partners among its membership, is also positive about the appointment of a minister to oversee housing market developments.

‘If De Jonge puts the same amount of energy into the housing crisis as he did the corononavirus crisis, then we are fully confident that important advances will be made,’ chairman Piet Adema said.

Eindhoven takes action to prevent land speculation

Private owners wishing to sell property and land in the central Fellenoord region of Eindhoven will have to first offer it to the municipality, under new rules which will be introduced later this year.

The city council has set aside €50m to fund the project, which is aimed at combating property speculation in the district, which borders the main railway station. This, in turn, will make it easier for housing corporations to build social housing on the site and meet residential targets, city officials say.

‘I realise that this will anger companies which want to make money but if we leave the Fellenoord area to the market then we cannot guarantee we will meet our ambitious targets,’ Eindhoven housing chief Yasin Torunoglu told the Eindhovens Dagblad.  

‘Speculative sales and developments which don’t materialise are deadly. So we are bringing in the new rules to make sure this area remains affordable for the average resident.’

Eindhoven has plans to develop some 7,500 new homes on the Fellenoord site, alongside offices, and plenty of greenery.

The city is also planning ‘where possible’ to offer land owned by the municipality and designated for residential development to housing corporations ahead of the private sector. This too is aimed at ensuring Rotterdam has enough affordable housing, city officials say.


Part of the planned development. Illustration: Eindhoven/KCAP

New Dutch government brings back housing minister role

The Netherlands is to get a new minister for housing when the new cabinet takes office in early January. The decision was announced at the presentation of the coalition’s plans, which have now been finalised, nine months after the general election.

Calls for a minister with specific responsibility for housing have come from across the real estate sector and the job is seen as essential for ensuring that the shortage of housing is tackled. That shortfall is expected to reach one million by 2030.

The new four-party coalition – a continuation of the current government – has agreed to speed up the current building programme, from 75,000 new houses a year to 100,000 a year. Some two-thirds will be classed as affordable.


In addition, the coalition aims to create 15,000 temporary housing units and 15,000 units through the redevelopment of redundant offices on an annual basis.

The building regulations will be streamlined and the government will continue to invest in specific projects via a public housing fund.

In new housing developments, public services and transport will be crucial and the government is setting up a €7.5bn fund to ensure proper road and rail connections to the 14 areas already earmarked for intensive residential development.  

The real estate sector will be encouraged to innovate and adopt circular strategies, and the construction of prefab homes will be increased.

Rental sector

In terms of the rental sector, social housing rents will be lowered for people on low incomes and increased for high earners living in rent-controlled properties. A limited form of right to buy will also be introduced for some social housing tenants.

The extra tax which housing corporations pay on their rental income will be phased out, on the basis of performance targets, freeing up more cash for new development.

Measures will also be taken to ensure mid-market rental properties remain affordable for tenants, and profitable enough to attract institutional investors. Permanent rental contracts will become the norm again.

A registration or licensing system will be introduced for landlords, to help local authorities combat discrimination and scams.

Translate »