Campaign to address real estate market issues

Student unions launch a campaign on issues in the real estate market.
Student unions call for focus on the real estate market issues. Image: Shutterstock.

The campaign Je bent een rund als je met huizenprijzen stunt’ (links to Dutch content) aims to raise awareness amongst youths, scientists, policymakers and politicians on the significant issues that affect the housing market. Thus states a press release from the Student Alliance Wageningen.

Steven Snijders of the Student Alliance Wageningen (SAW) is the spokesperson for the campaign. He claims the housing prices have increased three-fold over the last three decades. ‘This explosion of prices is not okay: housing is becoming unaffordable, for the younger generation in particular. Stable and lower prices benefit ordinary people who need houses.’

Higher price for the same house

The campaign title refers to a Dutch government campaign warning about the dangers of irresponsible usage of fireworks. According to Snijders, there are similarities between reckless behaviour with fireworks and the exploding housing market in the Netherlands. ‘The exploding prices result from decades of short-term politics, with no underlying vision. The damage is significant.’

International agencies such as the IMF (links to Dutch content) regularly criticise the Dutch housing policy. ‘The result is that we end up paying increasing sums for the same house. In addition to being a basic need, housing takes the largest chunk out of household budgets. We need to do more to fundamentally repair the housing market.’

Steven Snijders, SAW. Photo: Steven Snijders.

‘Increased debt is not a solution’

According to Snijder, the solution is often sought in increasing the mortgage options, while this is one of the main reasons for increasing prices. ‘A parliamentary committee reached this conclusion in 2013 but was ignored by politicians. More debt is not a solution.’

While the current debate on the housing market focuses on the increasing shortage of housing, the student unions call for a broader debate. ‘By informing ourselves and taking part in the public debate, we exert pressure on politicians to do justice to the immense problems the housing market faces.’

As a student, if you want to change something about the housing market of the future, the time to act is now

Steven Snijders

Wageningen

As far as student housing goes, Wageningen is doing well, says Snijders. ‘Idealis has a majority share in the market, and although they may not do everything right, they are a decent landlord. The Housing Desk also posts private rooms on their website, but if there is something amiss or the price is not right, they do not share the room online. Thus, a big part of the market is regulated. This is why the SAW leads this campaign. Student unions in other cities are often occupied with supporting students in a ‘game of hide and seek’ with landlords who attempt to circumvent the rules. In Wageningen, we don’t have these issues as much, allowing us to observe the market from a distance.’

Nevertheless, the initiative is relevant for students in Wageningen, Snijders stresses. ‘They too will have to find housing. Finding a student room is not so much of a problem, but buying a home is a different issue, the real estate prices have increased everywhere, including Wageningen. This makes it hard for young people to buy or rent a home after they graduate. As a student, if you want to change something about the housing market of the future, the time to act is now.’

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