When Wilco Drijver bought an apartment in Amsterdam's gentrifying De Pijp neighborhood in 2008, the bank gave him a no-money-down loan of 209,000 euros ($274,000). That was 24,000 euros more than the sales price. Drijver used the extra cash to renovate the place, figuring it was a good investment.
He figured wrong. When he put the apartment up for sale five months ago, real estate agents said it would fetch only about 189,000 euros. Even at that price, he hasn't had a nibble. And because his mortgage is interest-only, he still owes the entire 209,000-euro principal to the bank. Had he known what would happen, the 32-year-old self-employed consultant says now, "I wouldn't have bought the house."