Buying holiday property in Switzerland

If you want as a foreigner to buy a holiday property in Switzerland, you must comply with the terms of the law “Bundesgesetz über den Erwerb von Grundstücken durch Personen im Ausland (BewG)” also called “Lex Friedrich”.

For a long time, the Swiss people have protected their country against foreign investors and wealthy people. Arguments like “selling the family silver” has often been mentioned in the press, but this has proved to be greatly exaggerated. Recently it has been proven that only 5% of what is built in Switzerland belongs to foreigners. Hereof, only one-fifth, i.e. approximately 1%, has gone to foreign hands in the last 30 years. This, together with the Swiss rapprochement with the EU, have been the reasons for a sharp revision of the law on foreigner’s purchase of real estate in Switzerland.

Buying holiday property in Switzerland
Since 01 July 2007, when major changes in the law occurred, it has again become possible for foreigners to buy holiday houses in the lovely Switzerland. They include areas around Lake of Geneva, Crans Montana or for that sake Gstaad.

The acquisition of a holiday accommodation for foreigners was for years blocked through the constitution (“Lex Friedrich”), however now it has become possible for Swedes residing in Sweden to buy without needing a residence permit in Switzerland. For many foreigners and long-term investors, this legislative amendment has made Switzerland even more interesting.

Restrictions on purchase of holiday property
However, one should keep in mind that in the last revision of the law there are some limitations. For example, one limitation is that the state assigns the cantons a quota of holiday homes that can be sold. The consequence of this may be that in some areas there is a lot of offers for sale, and in some areas there is nothing. In tourist areas the offers for sale are plenty, whereas in cities like Zurich, Geneva and Bern it is mainly impossible to buy an apartment.

The quota system is known in the following cantons: BE, FR, GL, GR, JU, LU, NE, NW, OW, SG, SH, SZ, TI, UR, VD, VS.

The size of the holiday property
The particular holiday property must as guidance have a maximum size of 200 m2 living space and 1000 m2 land. The total share of plots belonging to foreigners must not exceed 1/3 on a given location.

Minimum Price
The property must as guidance have an official valuation of at least CHF 300,000 and a residential area of at least 65 m2 in order for the acquisition to be approved by the authorities.

Just as varied the supply of holiday apartments is, just as different is the price level. In the touristy area of Graubünden it’s probably the most expensive in Switzerland. For example, the price of an average apartment with three rooms CHF 600,000 and in Davos approximately CHF 475,000. The prices certainly depend on the layout, the design and last but not least the location.

Whether you are looking for an authentic location in Tessin, an idyllic chalet in Wallis or views of the many beautiful mountain lakes; possibilities are endless. Holiday properties on offer in Switzerland is very large and in the most coveted cantons like Valais, Graubünden and Ticino, the proportion of secondary residences is over 50%. Examples of these are Savognin, Laax, Celerina and Arosa in Graubünden, Nendaz, Leukerbad, Montana and Sass fee in Vallis well as small areas of Locarno/Ascona in Ticino.

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