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A romp through the Dutch polders in my klompen … wonder if my grandparents’ farm homes are still there?

Kevin Boer, Broker Owner, 3 Oceans Real Estate, Inc. ()

December 4th, 2006 · 3 Comments

klompen.jpgTrulia’s interview of Marque Joosten, CEO of the Dutch online property site Funda.nl, got me pretty excited for at least two reasons: Wicked cool technology, and a burst of patriotic curiosity. You see, Dutch blood runs thick in my veins: “Boer” simply means “farmer”, which pretty accurately describes my ancestors’ way of life on both sides of the family tree…until one grandfather became a barber, and his son — my father — went to University and got himself a PhD! Somehow I ended up selling real estate in Silicon Valley. But we digress…

Funda.nl apparently has 3.5M unique visitors per month from the Netherlands alone, which gives them a reach of some 20%. Joosten says Internet penetration in the Netherlands is around 85%, of which 90% is broadband, and as a result traditional print media real estate advertising has all but disappeared. He considers the newspaper advertising we have here in the US to be “probably worthless,” and he advises a simple trick to convince sellers that there’s no need to advertise in newspapers: “You can show them how many leads they get from a newspaper ad…zero…and then how many leads they get from the Internet…and that’s tens or hundreds.”

I thought I’d give the site a spin, and thankfully the cobwebs in my brain cleared sufficiently for the 50-odd words of Dutch I still know to come in useful: “Verkoop = “For sale”; “Welkom bij Funda” = “Welcome to Funda”; “Zoeken” = “Search”; “Plaats” = “City”.

A neat little integration with Google Earth pops up some very slick maps.

This is my dad’s home town of Lutjegast (”Little Higher Sandy Ridge” says Wikipedia), whose claim to fame is being the birth place of Abel Tasman, the Dutch seafarer who was the first European to stumble upon the island of Tasmania.


My mom’s home town was Hantemhuizen, which even Google Earth can’t locate. The nearest town was Dokkum, which looks like practically a bustling metropolis!


Image of “klompen” — wooden shoes — courtesy of cloggieshop.com Yes, I do have a pair…somewhere. No, I never wear them.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mom // Dec 5, 2006 at 6:22 am

    I know my home town is small; I have a hard time finding it when I visit and always need a cousin to come along to once again show me the way!
    However, one correction. The spelling is Hantumhuizen. Can Google Earth find that?

  • 2 Mom // Dec 5, 2006 at 7:44 am

    Dad Says:

    Meaning of “Lutjegast:” Leave out the “higher” and you’ve got it. That component is already included in “ridge.”

    The town has both grown and diminished. Grown in that a few blocks of houses have been added. Diminished in that the common family size has reduced from 8-10 kids to its “modern” diminutive. From a grand population in 1950 of 1100 to a mere 1000.

    The town used to support 1.5 barbers, 3 churches with only one resident preacher who baptized all of the 9 kids in our family, 3 bakeries, 2 shoe repairs, 1 gas pump and garage, 1 electrician, 3 complete grocers, 2 electrictians, 1 blacksmith, 1 trucker, 2 carpenters, 2 painters, at least one masonry, 1 clothing/textile store and 2 mixed-goods places ranging from toys to household and other tools. 2 home milk deliveries and 1 kerosene home delivery. Also one non-profit volunteer undertaker–my uncle, who was also the village musician, or so he thought! And lots of farms.

    The church community provided the finer culture. A choir and a brass orchestra, the latter directed by my grade-5 teacher, Meester Vander Zee, who sported an unheard of brushcut nursed along by my father-barber and whose chin I know like the back of my hand from the many times that I applied the lather for shaving! He was one of my tippers–5 cents per lathering session. Not bad, when the shave itself cost 20 cents. A 25% tip!

    Almost all are gone, with some exceptions. Many of the farms are still there as are the 3 church buildings, but 2 congregations have merged into one. For your real estate types, there could be a historic church for sale any time soon, graveyard and all. Keep your eyes open–pun intended.

    Also 1 grocer left–with very reasonable prices, something that attracts not only the Dutch. The garage is still functioning but changed hands. An antique/previously-owned shop has been added. For the rest, the people have to shop either in Grootegast, the county seat 3 km down the pike, or to Groningen, the ancient provincial capital and university town 25 km east.

    The process is called “globilization–” you now have to go to the other end of the globe to have your needs cared for.

    With apologies for any forgotten businesses and services.

    But it’s still a great village to live! A veritable foreportal for the great future that awaits us all. It can help you acclimatize before you move on. For real estaters: so popular that you cannot find a rental. (Fact is, no one ever built rentals there, except subsidized housing from before WW II.)

    To the outsider such a village seems dead and dull. Yet one could write an exciting tome about the history of each family. It would be a very interesting human read. Heh, when you have people hanging themselves or shooting themselves, you know there’s a story to tell. An aside: such dramas are not daily occurrences in Lutjegast, but they have happened.

  • 3 Barbara M // Feb 1, 2007 at 2:12 am

    Loved your article about Funda.nl!! I am a Dutchophile (just invented that word!) and am now in Amsterdam visiting my daughter and Dutch son-in-law. No offense, Kevin, but your parents’ comments were even more enjoyable than your article! Thanks to all of you for some pleasant reading!

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