Accepted Paper:

A fairytale: buying a house in Amsterdam during the crisis  


Nikkie Buskermolen (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

Debt is a social phenomenon that is embedded in social relations. How do people who bought a house during the crisis understand their debt? Can we understand the foreclosure better if we explore how people frame their housing purchase as an investment and sign of personal success?

Paper long abstract:

During the financial crisis the housing market in the Netherlands was heavily affected. There was a gigantic credit crisis, banks collapsed, unemployment rates rose and people were losing their homes. The expectations about the recovery of the economy were pessimistic; fewer houses were sold, for less money than before the crisis and the regulations around tax benefit and other stimulating efforts were decreased. Banks were reluctant to give loans, because they needed to enlarge their liquidities.

Housing brings together the intimate, private space and financial products. Through the case of housing, moralities about debt, success and expectations of the future become particularly visible. I researched people in their late twenties and investigated why they obtained large loans in times of crisis. They were still willing and able to obtain a loan to buy a house in Amsterdam during the crisis and considered themselves highly successful. They turned their debt into a discourse of investment, rather than in terms of risks and liability. What is striking, is that even though the reality had shown that housing prices could go down, they still considered buying a house an investment. Buying a house was the logical, almost unavoidable next step in their lives, something - in their view - everyone wants and dreams of. How do personal and structured expectations of the future play a role in the purchase of a house?

Panel P035
Home loss: house-ownership and credit in the austerity regime