The Day After the Dutch Grand Prix – A Real Estate Story

The Dutch Grand Prix was held this year from September 2-4, 2022 at Circuit Zandvoort in Zandvoort, Netherlands.  The Dutch hero, Max Verstappen, won the race. 

But this is not a recap on the Dutch Grand Prix.  Frankly, I couldn’t help much as I am not a car race enthusiast – not Formula 1 or Nascar.  I’ve just never been into it, and candidly, I didn’t even realize how large Formula 1 is until I move to the Netherlands. 

What the Dutch Grand Prix did for me was to dwell on real estate.  I went for a ride on my mountain bike the day after the Dutch Grand Prix through Zuid-Kennemerland Dunes near the North Sea.  This happens to be the same location where Circuit Zandvoort is located.

To give you a sense of why this may be interesting is Zandvoort and its proximity.  The town is home to only 16,000 people.  And the Circuit Zandvoort was regularly used between 1958 and 1985 as the primary Dutch Circuit for Formula 1. 

Plans for the Zandvoort Circuit started in 1930, but the first races didn’t occur until 1947.  And it wasn’t until 1952 that the Circuit would be part of the Formula 1 World Championship. 

The history is interesting, but it got me thinking about what the Dutch do right with real estate and real estate planning. 

The piece of real estate that houses this historically famous Formula 1 Circuit seems to be in a random location that is not in a high density area that people would visit.  However, the setting for the real estate is in fact quite the opposite. Circuit Zandvoort is close to the North Sea.  It is also equidistant between two beautiful seaside town – Zandvoort and Bloemendaal aan Zee – that are both heavily touristed by both locals and non-locals.  Furthermore, Circuit Zandvoort is situated amidst a National Park, which gives the environment a relaxed feeling even when the Formula 1 engines are roaring on the circuit.

There are three things that I see that the Dutch do well – arguably better – than a lot of other countries related to real estate and resource conservation.

The first thing that the Dutch do right is that they try to protect the water.  The Netherlands is part of the World known as the Low Countries.  Effectively, many parts of the Netherlands are below sea level.  As such, the Dutch has to become masters of the water and masters of their own terrain, so that they could not only improve upon their landscape, but also on their quality of life.  It is said that the Dutch have built waterworks since 500 BC.

The second thing the Dutch have done is work to protect their nature reserves and their landscapes.  With 17,000,000 people and a population density of 488 people per km2, the Netherlands is the most densely populated country in the European Union and one of the most densely populated countries in the World.  I will say that I do not feel it at all.  I have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, Honolulu, and Tokyo, and all of those places felt much more densely populated.  People do live very close to each other in the Netherlands, but there is also a lot of green space and waterways, which makes it seem like there is more space.  Another thing that makes the Netherlands feel less densely populated is that the Dutch have lots of different modes of transportation.  So generally speaking, the roadways don’t feel packed.  The Dutch have efficient train systems, bus routes, taxi services, and bike paths throughout the entire country all of which are clean and safe. 

The third thing that the Dutch do is that the cities do a very good job of planning.  The cities create strict zoning areas for different types of real estate.  And while many of the cities do not make development challenging like many places in the US, the Dutch are conservative in their approach.  The Dutch governments are thoughtful and, for the most part, I believe that the governments are really trying to plan for the future.  The Dutch need housing and that’s probably one area where the Dutch have not allowed enough building outside of Amsterdam, but they also don’t want to get too far out on the supply side of things.  They’ve seen downturns and just like their waterways, they try to protect against disaster.

This ride got me thinking about how amazing it is to be able to be involved in real estate, and that I am able to make a living from real estate investing and real estate investment banking.  But it also got me thinking about our environment and how too many developers and governments are willing to destroy nature for a new building.  It would be nice to see more countries balance real estate development with nature thereby mixing both profit and conservation.  It would also be good to see different government bodies require some true greenery in the development process by thinking to the future.  We need parks, gardens, nature, and organics to be part of the development process and likely to be part of the building in the future.  This will help reduce the carbon footprint since real estate generates approximately 40% of carbon emissions in the world.  As an industry, we should find ways to protect the environment. 

Until next time, let’s keep growing our passive cash flow and net worth together,


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