Sunday, February 11, 2024

Value of Amsterdam house doubled in over 350 years - What happened next?

In 1625 Pieter Fransz, a carpenter, built a house on the outskirts of Amsterdam, by the new Herengracht (Gentleman's Canal). A picture of the house can be seen above (at the left) and below.

The Eighty Years' War, (1568–1648), was initially a fight for the Netherlands' independence from Spain, which led to the separation of the northern and southern Netherlands, and the formation of the United Provinces of the Netherlands (the Dutch Republic).

The Dutch Republic was a confederation from 1579 to 1795 and in the 1600s its population was the richest in the world on a per capita basis.

The Southern Netherlands also called the Catholic Netherlands, were part of the Low Countries. They were controlled by Spain (1556–1714), Austria (1714–94) and added into France (1794–1815). This area was most of modern Belgium [at the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, Belgium (The Southern Netherlands) and the Northern Netherlands (Holland) were united to form one state (Belgium became independent in 1831)].

First Modern Economy: Myths on tulips & most valuable firm in history

Piet Eichholtz (1962), professor of Real Estate and Finance at Maastricht University, in 1997 published 'A Long-Run House Price Index: The Herengracht Index, 1628-1973.'

Prof Eichholtz had transactional details for 487 houses on the Herengracht and from 1632 to 1634 house prices fell almost 50%.

In 1636 alone 17,000 people or 14% of the Amsterdam population died during a plague.

700 years of Amsterdam was celebrated in 1975. The book 'Vier eeuwen Herengracht'(1975 'Four Centuries Herengracht') chronicled all the families that had lived on the Herengracht.

The average real price increase after World War II was about 3.2% per annum. Nevertheless, the real value of the index in 1973 was only twice as high as it was in 1628.

Prof Anne Goldgar, the author of 'Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age' (2007) wrote that the crash in 1637 was probably caused by unsustainability, and fears of oversupply. But the effect wasn't nearly as bad as the story suggests.

"I looked to try and find anybody that was made bankrupt because this is the myth of course that people were drowning themselves in canals because they were made bankrupt," she says. "Actually I couldn't find anybody that was bankrupt because of Tulip Mania."

Lodewijk Petram, author of ‘The World’s First Stock Exchange’ (2014) says “There were some 285 people actively involved in bulb trading in Haarlem, with an estimated sixty traders in Amsterdam.”

The Dutch economy primarily flourished due to its efficient textile, shipbuilding, and agricultural industries; also its development of an advanced financial system; and its establishment of monopolies on international trade such as in spices, sugar, and slaves were important. Migration to The Netherlands also helped.

Herengracht 81, Pieter Fransz's house, was registered in 1626 and his occupation was huistimmerman (house carpenter). Between the second and third floors of Herengracht 81, there's an inscription '1590.'

There had been a house on the Herengracht 81 site dating back to about 1590, and Pieter Fransz rebuilt it in 1626. It’s one of the oldest houses in Amsterdam.

Herengracht 43-45 is the oldest building by the canal. It has an inscription '1580.'

Two warehouses were turned into houses named Noah’s Ark and ‘t Fortuijn (or Fortune). The two warehouses were built in 1580.

The Dutch are meticulous in keeping records.

1588 uitgifte erven, daarna bouw eerste huizen (This relates to Herengracht 81: 1588 issue of inheritance, then construction of first houses.)

1626 Koopmanshuis, 5,90 m. breed. Trapgevel met ontlastingsbogen, sluitstukken, hijskast (1626 Merchant's House, 5.90 m wide. Stepped gable with relief arches, closing pieces, lifting box).

After the fall of Spanish-controlled Antwerp in 1585 during the Eighty Years' War, mainly Calvinist merchants and craftsmen fled the south.

The Singel Canal encircled the city of Amsterdam and was a moat from 1480 until 1585. Then Amsterdam expanded beyond the Medieval city walls.

Digs commenced after 1585 and would become part of the Herengracht Canal.

In 1612 the city council decided a new extension — the Three Canals Plan. The excavation of Herengracht began in 1613, with those of Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht commencing in 1614 and 1615 respectively.

In the 17 years after Pieter Fransz built his house, he was rich enough to buy the one next door, into which his daughter and her husband moved. In 1683 he was still listed as the owner of both properties.

When the house changed hands in the 1980s, its real value, after inflation, had only doubled in about 350 years –– offering a very modest rate of return on the investment.

In 2008 the price was slightly above the 1973 level.

Statistics Netherlands (CBS) has reported that for existing homes in Amsterdam, the index in 2015 was 100 and it has risen to 190.1 in 2023.

Matthijs Korevaar, a professor at Erasmus School of Economics produced the chart below, Real (inflation-adjusted) House Prices (below).

Jan Nieuwenhuijs of the Gold Observer puts the Real Index (1700=100) at 700.

According to a recent study, The Netherlands, one of Europe's most densely populated countries with 17.8mn people, is short of about 390,000 homes. Asylum and immigration were major themes in the November 2023, Dutch elections, particularly among right-wing parties which blamed refugees for the housing shortage.

Barron's, an American publication, said the average house price in the Netherlands was €430,000 ($470,000), quoting a report from last December.

Statistics Netherlands (CBS) has reported that for existing homes in Amsterdam, had an index of 100 and it has risen to 190.1 in 2023.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) was born in Leiden, South Holland, and moved permanently to Amsterdam in 1631.

He bought a house in 1639 at the height of his fame, for the very high amount of 13,000 guilders, with two-thirds financed by a mortgage. He finally went bankrupt in 1656, which is to say he voluntarily surrendered his goods – cessio bonorum.

Half the payments on his house had been made and his creditors began to chase him for money. He was buried in a pauper's grave.

According to scholarly research, in the 1650s, painters in The Netherlands belonging to the Guild of Saint Luke numbered about 650–700. The leading painters of the Golden Age Dutch Republic are here. The leading painters of the Golden Age were here.

Jan de Vries, University of California, Berkeley and Ad van der Woude, Landbouw-Economisch Instituut, The Netherlands, in their book 'The First Modern Economy,' wrote:

"With its relatively high standard of living, strong demand for labour, and religious toleration, the republic long attracted immigrants from the rest of Europe. This well-known fact had profound implications for the republic’s culture, economy, and demographic characteristics...In all of Europe no less than in the republic, large cities usually experienced an excess of deaths over births, so that the maintenance of their populations depended on in-migration."

There were very high rates of urbanization (45% vs 3% in most Agrarian societies); Agriculture made up only 40% of the jobs and a much lower percentage of the economy.

The population of the Dutch Republic was about 1.420mn in 1600 and 1.825mn in 1650. Amsterdam had a population of about 59,560 in 1600 and 192,7670 in 1650.

In July 1650, Amsterdam was under attack as part of a planned coup d'état by the 24-year-old William II, of the House of Orange. He died after contracting smallpox and a child was born posthumously.

William III (1650–1702) became King of England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1689 and was known as William II. Protestants in Ireland called him William of Orange.

Oliver Cromwell who became Lord Protector for life at the end of 1653, had already started a war with the Republic. The blockade of Dutch ports damaged trade and the Dutch economy. Besides ships captured by the English navy, over a hundred other Dutch ships were captured by English privateers between October 1651 and July 1652.

During the seventeenth century, some 400,000 seaworthy vessels were built in the Dutch Republic, and it is estimated that by 1670 the Dutch-owned ships had nearly half the total tonnage of European shipping.

What was called the Golden Age from 1588 to 1672, came to a bloody end.

In the 'Disaster Year' (Rampjaar) of 1672, the armies of France and England with the support of the bishops of two German cities, Cologne and Münster, almost toppled the Republic.

Johann de Witt (1625-1672), was the de facto Prime Minister for almost 20 years, and a skilful leader.

In August 1672, he and his brother were lynched by a royalist mob in The Hague. It is said that some of the rioters burned the bodies and engaged in cannibalism.

While the Golden Age promoted arts, paid high wages and promoted migration, the Dutch conquered communities in America, Africa and Asia and were heavily involved in both slavery and the slave trade on the three continents.

I wrote this in 2018: "A statue of Jan Pieterszoon Coen (1587-1629), the VOC (Dutch East India Company) governor-general for Asia, was erected in his native Dutch town of Hoorn in 1893. In 1621 Coen had organised the genocide of about 14,000 inhabitants of the Banda Islands, a group of small volcanic islands within the Moluccas archipelago, Eastern Indonesia. In past centuries the Bandas were called the Spice Islands in Europe and elsewhere. Nutmeg was native to the Banda Islands."


2020 "Data-crunching by The Economist suggests that the number of new houses constructed per person in the rich world has fallen by half since the 1960s. Because supply is constrained and the system is skewed towards ownership, most people feel they risk being left behind if they rent. As a result politicians focus on subsidising marginal buyers, as Britain has done in recent years. That channels cash to the middle classes and further boosts prices. And it fuels the build-up of mortgage debt that makes crises more likely."

In the last century's closing decades, the UK and Ireland sold off most of their social housing to tenants at steep discounts.

About a third of the housing stock in The Netherlands is social and funded by the government. The administration is performed by not-for-profit private organisations that operate at the local level.

The average cost of delivering a new 3-bed semi in Ireland ranges from €354,000 in the Northwest of Ireland, to €461,000 in the Greater Dublin Area.

Data published in 2023 by the CSO (Central Statistics Office) to mark Ireland’s 50 years of EU membership show that although the Irish economy is 10 times the size it was when we joined the bloc in 1973, housing is less affordable for the average worker.

The average industrial worker needs more than seven times their salary to buy a house today, compared to four-and-a-half times their salary in 1973.

That means the gap has grown by almost two-thirds in 50 years, before taxes, interest rates and inflation are considered. Mortgage rates were well into the double digits in the 1970s.

However, the Central Bank now restricts the amount of money a homebuyer can borrow to a maximum of four times their gross income.

According to McKinsey, management consultants, we "live in an urban world. Half of the world’s population already lives in cities, generating more than 80% of global GDP today. But, the urban economic story is even more concentrated than this suggests. Only 600 urban centres, with a fifth of the world’s population, generate 60% of global GDP."

In the digital age capitals or big commercial cities attract tech firms and educated workers.

European Union data show that the number of single-person households without children in the EU increased by 30.7 % from 2009 to 2022–– this is also raising the demand for housing.

The most numerous type of household in the EU in 2022 were single adult households without children, amounting to 71.9mn, followed by couples without children representing 48.2mn, and couples with children numbering 30.6mn. A separate category has 30.1mn. The grand total of households was 198,462,600.

In 2000-2023 both The Netherlands and Denmark had gains in overall populations of 11%.

However the population of North Holland where Amsterdam is located, the population grew by 17% while in Greater Copenhagen gained 29%. In 2002-2222 in Dublin and its contiguous counties: Kildare; Meath; Louth and Wicklow had a gain in population of 34%.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It is dominated by advanced countries:

"The number of dwellings per thousand inhabitants is around 468, on average, among OECD countries, below the EU average of 495 in 2020. There are considerable differences across countries. The number of dwellings in relation to the population is highest in Greece, France, Italy, Portugal, Bulgaria, Finland, Spain and Latvia (with over 550 dwellings per thousand inhabitants). In contrast, the number of dwellings reported is the lowest in South Africa (283), Colombia (294), Korea (310) and Costa Rica (310). The number of dwellings per thousand inhabitants increased between 2011 and 2020 in all but six countries: Croatia, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Iceland, New Zealand and Luxembourg.

Chile, Lithuania and Türkiye reported the biggest increase in the number of dwellings per thousand inhabitants over this period."

Based on house completions to the end of 2023 and the 2022 Census, the Irish Housing Stock was 2,168,820 while the estimated population was 5,330,000.

The dwellings per 1,000 inhabitants level is 407. If 67,000-holiday properties without owners on Census night were ignored, the rate would be 394.

To attain France's 570 dwellings per 1,000 inhabitants, Ireland would have to produce an additional 853,700 housing units.

Internal report: LDA pays more to build affordable homes than EU neighbours Confidential Land Development Agency comparison report seen by the Business Post


The state is paying up to €138,000

more to build a home than other European countries building similar affordable housing, a confidential Land Development Agency (LDA) report has shown.

The 40-page research document obtained by the Business Post, which has not been shared with the Department of Housing, was labelled by the agency as “private & confidential – not to be shared outside LDA”. It was completed in April 2021.

A spokesman for the Department of Housing said it was not aware of the report’s existence. He said that the LDA and the department frequently share other information about increasing the delivery of cost-effective affordable housing.

The LDA, which has €3.5 billion in available capital, was established in September 2018 to expedite the construction of 150,000 homes on state lands over 20 years.

Four years ago, the government said sites had already been earmarked for 10,000 homes by the LDA. Late last year, it emerged that the agency will not deliver the first of these homes until at least 2024.

The confidential report compared how much the LDA will spend to build housing on a site in Naas with similar housing projects in comparable areas of France, Belgium and Germany. The report found that the agency’s construction and development costs are significantly higher than state builders in those countries.

“When looking at all-in development costs there is a range of differences from the LDA development being €274 (9.2%) more expensive per square metre than the German maximum to €1,545 (90.3%) more expensive than Brussels,” it found.

The findings of the report suggest it would cost the LDA between €155,000 and €200,000 to build 70 and 90-square-metre apartments on state lands in Naas, Co Kildare. The cost of the two-bed 90-square-metre apartment in Naas is between €42,000 and €81,000 more than the cost of units in similar public housing projects in comparable areas of France, Belgium and Germany.

The all-in development cost, which would include utilities, land work such as footpaths, local taxes and architect and designer fees, for a two-bed apartment in the Naas scheme would be €292,000. The results of the LDA’s research showed this was between €23,000 and €138,000 more expensive per unit.

The report added that the cost of utilities in Ireland is broadly in line with Belgium, but almost double France’s figures. In Ireland, land works such as footpaths and roads cost €438 per square metre compared to €33 to €101 per square metre in France and €68 per square metre in a Belgium scheme.

“Similar local taxes and fees for Ireland are more than double France. However, for professional fees, Ireland is one of the lowest,” the private report said.

Further parts of the study examined if Irish taxes on construction are driving higher development costs.

”The evidence suggests that Vat is more than likely not the issue on any potential cost discrepancy with delivering apartments in Ireland compared to other EU countries. In fact, Ireland is lower than most member countries when it comes to Vat levied on the building sector,” the LDA report said.

The government has considered cutting Vat in order to stimulate development but the LDA’s internal report indicated the tax rate was not a factor in higher costs here compared to other EU countries.

The report added that hourly labour costs in Ireland, when compared to the other countries, are also not the main driver in the disparity in construction costs with Ireland having one of the lowest from surveyed countries.

New York Times: "Thanks to soaring housing prices, the era of the 400-square-foot subdivision house is upon us." Many small houses sit side by side in the Elm Trails subdivision in San Antonio, Texas.

“Of course, this is heavily contingent on the magnitude of people working on a development. There is evidence in recent years the wage costs in the sector are growing at a faster rate than the comparator country average,” it noted.

Sources with knowledge of the LDA said that no further analysis was conducted as to why the agency’s costs are significantly higher or what could be done to reduce these costs.

The LDA’s overview of building costs was completed six months before the Department of Housing commissioned its own research project into construction costs in September 2021.

A spokesman for the LDA, responding to queries from the Business Post, said the report was an exercise to gain greater insights into the costs of residential construction in Ireland as compared to other European jurisdictions.

“The LDA continually researches ways to reduce costs and to design its schemes to result in quality affordable homes and value for money for the state,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said the report was marked “not to be shared outside” as it contained potential pricing information regarding a specific project which is currently in a tender process. This may be deemed confidential, market-sensitive information that may result in loss to the LDA if released and could not be released by law, he said.

The LDA spokesman said that report, which includes 40 pages of information and a complete set of conclusions, was a “draft.”"

Breakdown Of The Cost Of A Three-Bed Semi - Why Houses Are Costing €460,000?

The cost of land for houses remains "prohibitively expensive," according to the Society of Chartered Surveyors in Ireland (SCSI) in 2020.

The group, representing estate agents and surveyors, said the price of land for a three-bed semi-detached house is about €60,000 on average or 20%t of the total cost of the property.

Irish Times Feb 2024: "South Dublin residents take High Court action against 600-plus housing project in Milltown."

"An Bord Pleanála (Planning Board) approved the 636-apartment scheme following a previous court challenge to 661-home, mainly ‘build to rent’ plan."

"The High Court is for the second time being asked to quash permission for hundreds of homes on former Jesuit Order lands in Milltown, south Dublin."

Census 2022 Housing in Ireland

  • In 2022, 679,718 dwellings were owner-occupied without a mortgage or loan, up 11% from 2016;

  • In 2022, 531,207 dwellings were owner-occupied with a mortgage or loan, down 1% from 2016;

  • In 2022, the number of rented occupied dwellings was 513,704, up 9% since 2016;

  • The average weekly rent for occupied dwellings rented from a private landlord in Census 2022 was €273, up 37% since 2016;

  • The lowest average weekly rent in 2022 was in Donegal, €134, up 29% since 2016;

  • The highest average weekly rent in 2022 was in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, €442, up 32% since 2016;

  • In 2022, there were 119,300 homes in the State using solar panels, 6% of all occupied dwellings;

  • In Meath, the use of solar panels was reported by 7,629 homes, 11% of all occupied dwellings in the county and the highest proportion at the State level;

  • In Dublin City, the use of solar panels was reported by 6,197 homes, 3% of all occupied dwellings in the county and the lowest proportion at the State level.

  • The foreign-born population was at 19.7% in Census 2022. In December 2023 the foreign-born population was likely at 1,130,000 while the estimated population was 5,330,000 (The CSO estimated the population at 5,281,600 in April 2023).

    The ratio for the foreign-born in December 2023 was 21%

The land

Teagasc, the State agricultural agency, said in 2020, the share of agricultural land that is transacted for sale annually is approximately 0.5% (CSO, 2020), a main reason for a strong agricultural land letting market.

Savills' Irish unit said in 2007, that in France, each field changes hands at least once every 70 years, but in Ireland, on average a field changes hands every 555 years! Total annual turnover in Ireland was less than 0.2% of the total acreage.

"Countries with sales restrictions, such as France, are the cheapest. The land is about €6,000 a hectare, compared with almost €60,000 in Ireland, as French land must be offered first to young local farmers.'"

In 2022 a hectare (ha: 2.471 acres) of arable French land was priced at €6,130 and in Île-de-France (Greater Paris) €7,690. The Dutch who are the second-biggest agri-food exporter in the world had a value of 85,431.

Ireland's value was €38,013.

In 1971 the Irish government appointed a committee to investigate the escalating price of land for building. Mr Justice John Kenny (1917-1987) of the High Court (he was later appointed to the Supreme Court) was appointed the chairman.

In 1973 the ‘Report of the Committee on the Price of Building Land’ noted that the price of County Dublin serviced development land on average rocketed by 530% in 1963-1971 compared with a rise in consumer prices of 64% in the period. The committee recommended that the price of development land should be based on the agricultural use value plus 25%.

Politicians had a lame excuse for doing nothing: the 1937 Constitution.

In 2018, the then taoiseach (prime minister), Micheál Martin, said: “I think implementing Kenny is morally the right thing to do – I don’t think there should be windfall profits once land is rezoned but it would also undoubtedly reduce the cost of housing because the price of land at the moment is a significant factor in increasing the price of houses.”

Ulick and Des McEvaddy are aviation entrepreneurs who in 1996 bought land at Dublin Airport to build a private passenger terminal.

The strip between the two runways at the airport has 123 acres and along with other land owners, Seán Fox, and Brendan and Orla O'Donoghue, the total acreage is 260 acres.

In 1996 an acre of land in Ireland was valued at €1,509 and the Dublin Airport Authority (DDA) recently bought a car park for €1.7mn per acre.

"The Dublin Airport operator is absolutely delusional in thinking it will be the only bidder for a plot of land in the centre of its grounds that has been put up for sale," Ulick McEvaddy" has said.

The sellers are seeking more than €200mn.

The DAA has bid in the region of €75mn for the plots, which was called “derisory” by Ulick McEvaddy.

The 260 acres at an agricultural price would be €400,000 and applying the 1973 Kenny formula of an additional 25%, the sum would be €500,000.

In December 2OO6, it was reported that up to €4.6bn of the €18.5bn of Irish taxpayers' money that would be spent on new main roads over the following decade, would go into the pockets of landowners.

Fred Barry, the then chief executive of the National Roads Authority was reported as saying that the increases in the cost of land for major road projects as "disturbing".

Barry said that acquisition accounted for 23% of the cost of road projects in Ireland, but just 12% in England, 10% in Denmark, 9.4% in Greece and 1% in Iceland.;

Also in 2006, Dublin's sprawl was cited by the European Environment Agency (EEA) as a "worst-case scenario" of urban planning so that newer EU member states such as Poland might avoid making the same mistakes.

In 1991-2010, the amount of Irish agricultural land within the county fell by 22.9%. In 2020 the CSO reported 699 farms in County Dublin and 10,113 agricultural ha.;

The Irish generally have an aversion to high rise and apartments.

Looking at the results at a county level, Census 2022 shows that the population of County Dublin (922 km²) grew by 8% to 1,458,154, which means the number of people in the county rose by 110,795 between April 2016 and April 2022.

Dublin City, the core, has 592,713 (2022 Census) in 117.8 km² compared with Paris with a population of 2,138,551 and an area of 105 km².

In the 19th century, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann (1809-1891), a Parisian official with no architectural background, revamped the city at the request of Emperor Napoleon III. Buildings in his style were required to be between 12 and 20 metres (about 39 to 65 feet) high and consist of no more than six stories. Initially, stairs were the only means of reaching different floors.

In Dublin in the past anti-high rise advocates have cited Haussmann but to emulate him, there would be need for extensive demolitions.

During the seventeenth century, some 400,000 seaworthy vessels were built in the Dutch Republic, and it is estimated that by 1670 the Dutch owned nearly half the total tonnage of European shipping.

In July 1909, Winston Churchill, the 34-year-old Liberal MP and member of the British cabinet as President of the Board of Trade, gave a speech in Edinburgh in defence of the 'People's Budget' of David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Welfare measures were to be financed by taxes including a land capital gains tax and an annual valuation tax. Only £0.5m was to be raised in the ensuing fiscal year from land taxes but the landowners in the House of Lords rejected the budget. Churchill told his Edinburgh audience that:

"Roads are made, streets are made, railway services are improved, electric light turns night into day, electric trams glide swiftly to and fro, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains – and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labour and at the cost of other people. Many of the most important are effected at the cost of the municipality and of the ratepayers.

To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist as a land monopolist contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is sensibly enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare he contributes nothing even to the process from which his own enrichment is derived."

In 1920 when David Lloyd George was prime minister of a coalition government dominated by the Tories, the land taxes were repealed.

April 1909: Winston Churchill listens attentively to David Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, while walking in Central London with him, his wife and his parliamentary aide on Budget Day. Left to right: Margaret Lloyd George, David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and the Private Secretary to Lloyd George.

In the past decade, German economists tracked annual house prices for 14 advanced economies since 1870. "Based on extensive data collection, we show that real house prices stayed constant from the 19th to the mid-20th century, but rose strongly during the second half of the 20th century. Land prices, not replacement costs, are the key to understanding the trajectory of house prices. Rising land prices explain about 80% of the global house price boom that has taken place since World War II. Higher land values have pushed up wealth-to-income ratios in recent decades."

Australia; Belgium; Canada; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Japan; The Netherlands; Norway; Sweden; Switzerland; The United Kindom and The United States.

In 2015 Jason Furman, President Obama's chief economic adviser, in a speech cited zoning restrictions that add as much as 50% to the cost of a house. Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist, has said that “this is an issue on which you don’t have to be a conservative to believe that we have too much regulation.”