Buying property in Switzerland


can a foreigner buy property in Switzerland?

If so, is it complicated? What is the process of purchasing a property in Switzerland?

Any tips for buying property, such as a check-list of items to verify ?

Thanks in advance for participating!


It is important to distinguish between holiday flats/houses and property that serves as permanent accomodation.

For holiday accomodation, there are not so many limitations as to being a foreigher or not. On the other hand, in many areas there are maximum quotas for holiday accomodation sales. This sounds strange at first sight, but is understandable when you realise that permanent residents in a village don't want too many holiday flats - as that may turn the village into a ghost town outside holiday seasons.

When buying property in which you want to live permanently, you usually have to show your permit to stay in Switzerland, in particular if you are not holder of an EU/EFTA passport. This may turn into a vicious circle, as one of the conditions for obtaining this permit is that you have a place to live in Switzerland. Finding temporary accomodation with friends may be a solution here.

As anywhere in the world, the location of the property will determine the price. Accomodation in the big cities is much more expensive than in the countryside. In this country with many lakes, mountains and stunning views, you'll be expected to pay (much) more for property with a great lake/mountain view. Always check out the amount of sunshine that your property will get. If it's at the north hang of a mountain, you'll be automatically in the shadow of that mountain. Particularly during winter, you may get hardly any sunshine or even no sunshine at all. This will influence the value of the property.

Property location is double important as the property market is relatively small. The Swiss are "renters" not "buyers". Therefore, it may take some time to sell your property if you need or want to. A good location may considerably speed up the process of getting your house sold.

As income and property tax rates differ considerably from town to town and from canton to canton, it is well worth to inform about them. You'll quickly find out that the canton of Zug has one of the lowest tax rates of Switzerland - and then you'll understand why property prices are sky high in this canton.

When coming with children to Switzerland, it may be worthwile to check the school in the town/quarter where you want to buy property. The Swiss education system is ok, but you cannot choose between schools. Your children will usually go to the school that is nearby, even if you would prefer a different school.
If, for whatever reason, you don't want to send your children to the school nearby, the only option is finding a private school. Take in mind that private education will cost you at least 25,000 francs per child per year.

Financially: the good news is that interest rates in Switzerland are low.
Banks usually grant a mortgage for a maximum of 80% of the property value. The other 20% you'll have to finance yourself. Preferably, try to finance about 65% yourself, as mortgage conditions for the next 15% tend to be worse.
Of course, banks will look at your income when deciding to give you a mortgage or not.

Hope this helps,

Hi Twan!

Thanks a lot for your help ;)