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A Comprehensive Guide to Buying Property in Switzerland

Louise Villalobos

ByLouise Villalobos

Dec 13, 2023

The process of buying property in Switzerland can seem complicated for foreigners. Lucky for you, this guide explains in detail the Swiss real estate market and the property-buying process. Are you planning to move to Switzerland? Find out how you can secure your first Swiss home in this guide.

Homeownership in Switzerland

The homeownership rate in Switzerland is among the lowest worldwide. As of June 2023, only 37% of the country’s adult population owned houses. Cities like Geneva and Basel have the lowest homeownership levels. Data from Statistica shows that Swiss residents aged above 60 are more likely to live in their own homes than people aged below 40. The reason for this trend is because of the rising house prices.

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Should One Buy or Rent a House in Switzerland?

Given the slow property-buying process, most foreigners in Switzerland initially opt to rent rather than buy houses. However, due to the growing demand for rentals, securing such units can be challenging. Still, renting is a good option as it gives you time to understand the complicated process of buying property in Switzerland.

The Swiss Real Estate market

As mentioned earlier, house prices have been rising in Switzerland. According to CEIC data, property prices have been growing by 2.2% every year since 2019. Notably, house prices surged 80% between 2001 and 2016. Recent data from real estate platform NUMBEO shows that buying an apartment in Zurich, Geneva, and Lausanne will cost you CHF 12,900, CHF 13,400, AND CHF 13,900, respectively.

Are Foreigners Allowed to Buy Houses in Switzerland?

There are several restrictions put on foreigners when it comes to purchasing property in Switzerland. Those allowed to buy houses must have a Swiss C Permit or come from a European Union member country.

Any foreigner with a seasonal or short-term work permit is not allowed to buy property in Switzerland.

Costs of Purchasing Property in Switzerland

Although house prices are high in Switzerland, the country offers the cheapest transaction costs when compared to other European nations. Global Property Guide data shows that costs associated with buying a Swiss property account for about 2% of the total house price. Some of the expenses incurred by the buyer include a notary fee of 0.1%, a 0.15% registration fee, and a Real Estate Transfer Tax of 2.5%.

How to Find Properties in Switzerland

Like in most countries, Swiss properties can be found through online property marketplaces and real estate agents. Some of the marketplaces include UMS Temporary Housing, Homegate, ImmoStreet, and ImmoScout24. In terms of real estate agents, be sure to check out the Swiss Real Estate Association, Wincasa, Privera, Naef, Moser Vernet & CIE, and the Swiss Union of Real Estate Professionals.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Buying Property in Switzerland

Before showing you how to buy property in Switzerland, it is worth mentioning that the buying process in this country is relatively slow. It may take three months to complete. Here is how you can purchase a Swiss property:

Select Property

Although you can find properties via an online marketplace, as a foreigner, we advise you to hire a Switzerland-based real estate agent to help you find the right property. There are various types of properties available for purchase. Ensure the property you buy is Minergie-certified.

Secure Mortgage

If you cannot afford to buy a Swiss property using your own money, find a bank that offers mortgages to foreigners. You will be required to make a 20% deposit of the total house value.

Make an Offer and Sign an Agreement

How much a bank provides you as a mortgage determines the offer you make on a particular property. After sending your offer and the seller accepts it, they will require you to pay a deposit and sign a sale contract. We recommend getting a lawyer to guide you through this process.

Complete Your Purchase

After signing a sale agreement and making the agreed deposit, the lawyer will handle the ownership transfer. Once they notify you that a title deed with your name has been generated, you can ask the bank to transfer the remaining balance to the property seller, who will then give you access to your new Swiss home upon confirming receipt of funds. And this is how you own a property in Switzerland.

Louise Villalobos

Louise Villalobos

Louise Villalobos is an adept writer, renowned for her compelling articles that illuminate and engage. Her prowess in breaking down intricate subjects provides readers with clarity and nuance. With a vast and varied portfolio, Louise has solidified her standing as a distinguished voice in contemporary journalism.