Buying property in Geneva

Buying property in Geneva
Updated 2019-07-31 15:12

Finding a place to buy in Geneva can a nightmare. Despite the fact that thousands of new homes have been built in Geneva in the last decade, there is a big housing crisis in Geneva - so many people buy homes in the neighbouring canton Vaud or in France. Today, only 18.5% of residents own property in Geneva compared to the national average of 38.2%. 

Where to look for property in Geneva

There are several big realtor agencies in Geneva, such as Knight Frank and Savills, who manage available listings in the city and surrounding areas. Most of them also list their available properties through a third-party online aggregator such as Zoopla or RightMove. You can also find notifications on announcement boards at the supermarket.

Property prices in Geneva

Property is expensive in Geneva, and naturally, some areas are more expensive than others.

Eaux Vives is particularly costly. For example, a four room flat in the Old Town is currently on the market for CHF 3.4 million, whereas a 10-room house with an outdoor pool near the United Nations has a guide price of just CHF 4.4 million.

Procedures for buying a house in Geneva

It is usually a slow process. After you have chosen a house or flat you like, you need to make an offer, find a mortgage, agree on the sale and sign a contract. Commonly, this process typically lasts three months or more.
It is recommended that you budget an additional 5% on the purchase price of the house for fees and charges.

You should be aware that the seller is not required to tell you about any issues to the property, so having an independent survey - though not common - is also recommended.

Regulation for foreign buyers

There are strict regulations on foreigners buying property in Geneva.
If you are an EU or EFTA national with a Swiss residence permit who resides in Switzerland, or you hold a Swiss C Permit, you have the same rights as a Swiss citizen to purchase a property.

If you hold a Swiss B Permit, you can only purchase a property if you plan to live in it.

Employees at international organisations and permanent missions fall under different rules in Geneva. People with a residency card or carte de legitimation who have lived in Switzerland for less than 5 or 10 years (according to nationality) - will need to adhere to strict restrictions: the property must be the primary residence, it cannot exceed 3,000 square meters and must be purchased by a named person. If you have lived in Switzerland for more than 5 or 10 years (depending on your nationality), you have the same freedom as a Swiss C Permit holder.

Good to know:

According to Swiss regulation, anyone who falls outside of these categories cannot purchase property or will need to apply for a license to do so.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.