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Old 22.11.2020, 20:48
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

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..In the US, there is tremendous demand in "staging" companies which basically come in and redecorate to attract sellers.
Slightly OT but... you'd think with how detail-oriented the Swiss are they would be into staging and making a place look nice. But no, so many pictures in adverts here are appalling and not at all inviting. Part of the reason we've viewed exactly one house is nothing else has seemed remotely worth our time. I guess that's how it is in a seller's market.

Back on topic, I can't judge the OP too harshly. Depending on where you're from, you might not know how agents here work - i.e. that buyers' agents are almost non-existent. Still, I would expect the m2 to be much more accurate than what OP seems to have been told.
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Old 22.11.2020, 20:55
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

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Back on topic, I can't judge the OP too harshly. Depending on where you're from, you might not know how agents here work - i.e. that buyers' agents are almost non-existent. Still, I would expect the m2 to be much more accurate than what OP seems to have been told.

At the end of the day the agent is not there to verify the information of his client and he does not have any obligation toward the buyer to act as some kind of verification institution.
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Old 22.11.2020, 20:58
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

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At the end of the day the agent is not there to verify the information of his client and he does not have any obligation toward the buyer to act as some kind of verification institution.
That's one way of looking at it.

Of course one could also see it as false advertising by E and V - in order to make the property appear more attractive to a potential buyer.
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Old 22.11.2020, 21:03
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

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At the end of the day the agent is not there to verify the information of his client and he does not have any obligation toward the buyer to act as some kind of verification institution.
If we believe the OP, the agent is the one that published a brochure with wildly incorrect information. Surely the agent should do their homework ahead of time and publish something accurate or at least closer to accurate?

At the same time, I agree buyers should do due diligence when buying a property, but the advertised m2 shouldn't be THAT far off from the actual.
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Old 22.11.2020, 21:09
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

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That's one way of looking at it.

Of course one could also see it as false advertising by E and V - in order to make the property appear more attractive to a potential buyer.
You could, and maybe you could sue them for the time wasted to go and work that out for yourself, in the unlikely event that you could demonstrate any significant damage that a court would consider.

But after actually buying the place, after having seen it and presumably signed a bunch of documents with the correct sizes on them, the OP can't really claim the advert caused them any damage.

ps we have no real idea how far off the sizes are, it could have been a rural estate somewhere and the measurements accurate to +/- a few percent.
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Old 22.11.2020, 21:09
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

First rule of buying property for me is “can I sell it?”

Switzerland seem locked into cost per square metre. In the UK, where I bought and sold 5 properties, I couldn’t tell you the sqm of any of them from the inside. The gardens were measured in parts of acres, like ¼ acre, but I have no accurate ideas what that is.

It seems like the agent could have upped the prices based on the sqm area. But how did the OP discover this and most important will this make it either harder to sell or reduce the selling price when the time comes around??
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Old 22.11.2020, 22:13
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

First rule of buying or selling property in Switzerland is don’t trust the agents. They have neither your, nor the seller/buyers interest at heart. It is only them and their commission that counts.

They are lower than snakes bellies, and they know it but don’t actually care.
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Old 22.11.2020, 23:22
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

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Slightly OT but... you'd think with how detail-oriented the Swiss are they would be into staging and making a place look nice. But no, so many pictures in adverts here are appalling and not at all inviting. Part of the reason we've viewed exactly one house is nothing else has seemed remotely worth our time. I guess that's how it is in a seller's market.

Back on topic, I can't judge the OP too harshly. Depending on where you're from, you might not know how agents here work - i.e. that buyers' agents are almost non-existent. Still, I would expect the m2 to be much more accurate than what OP seems to have been told.
My good friend runs the Berkshire/Hathaway Realtor Group on the Main Line (outside of Philly). Berkshire/Hathaway in the US is probably commensurate with Engels/Volkers in terms of prestige and market share. In the US, the Real estate firm marketing the house is "on the hook" so to speak if their listing has errors regarding square footage.

Anyway, she told me that buyers today lack vision and millennials in particular, want "finished" homes. Those homes which are well designed and well staged, sell at a premium in today's market compared to homes which need work. That is what is happening in parts of the US but perhaps, the market differs in Switzerland?

Would like to hear feedback from those who have recently bought homes in Switzerland as I have no sense as to what drives the market here.
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  #29  
Old 23.11.2020, 00:12
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

The Swiss market is driven by a steadily growing number of people who are at least considering buying, of a social strata which could never have even aspired to ownership, a generation or two ago, yet a huge lack of properties available to be bought,

This means that such things as staging a house would be considered trivial, here. The prettyfying is necessary in market conditions in which sellers are struggling to get rid of their properties.

Also, sellers in Switzerland do not necessarily go for the highest bid. The bigger bucks on the table don't necessarily do it for them. For many, their move includes a contribution, as they go, to the fabric of the society in the neighbourhood, so they may very well choose a buyer who will be a good fit, socially, in the local sports clubs, and with the neighbours whom they've known and esteemed for decades.
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  #30  
Old 23.11.2020, 00:18
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

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My good friend runs the Berkshire/Hathaway Realtor Group on the Main Line (outside of Philly). Berkshire/Hathaway in the US is probably commensurate with Engels/Volkers in terms of prestige and market share. In the US, the Real estate firm marketing the house is "on the hook" so to speak if their listing has errors regarding square footage.
In Switzerland the whole question of being "on the hook" for anything at all is so much less than what you describe from the US.

There is an overriding notion in legal matters that each party owes it to themselves to do what is reasonable and to find out what could be clear, and is accessible. To a large extent, this precludes putting the blame on someone else and holding them responsible for what one could have done oneself.

It is caveat emptor, so it is seen as perfectly obvious that any reasonable person who was considering entering into a contract would do adequate research, and not be so foolish as to rely on a glossy broschure (which, in turn, since not part of any contract could reasonably be assumed to possibly include some errors).

The square meterage is just such a matter. The municipal authorities hold and will release the information to parties who can demonstrate a legitimate interest. And any viewer could take along a tape measure.

Last edited by doropfiz; 23.11.2020 at 20:48. Reason: typo
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Old 23.11.2020, 01:20
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

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But after actually buying the place, after having seen it and presumably signed a bunch of documents with the correct sizes on them, the OP can't really claim the advert caused them any damage.
Look, these guys lied to me, bad people. Anyway I gave them hundreds of thousands of francs presumably in exchange for a house. Next, register to EF and complain about how distrustful are those guys.

I guess the only one being defamed here is OP by OP
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  #32  
Old 23.11.2020, 02:10
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

As others have noted here, real estate valuations depend heavily on land area. Many Swiss regard older houses as worthless ("older" meaning even houses built as recently as the 1990s!); certainly, they regard houses built in the 1940s and 50s as knock-down, rebuild projects. (As far as I'm concerned, the older the house, the better; "they just don't build 'em like that anymore!")

Where I live, residential land sells for around CHF 3,000 per sq. m. So overstating the plot size by 124 sq. m. provides some (false) justification for jacking the price of the property up by nearly CHF 400,000, and no doubt more in some other areas. I'm not saying that's what Engel & Völkers did in this instance, but you can see the temptation...

That said, I find it very hard to believe that that particular real estate agent deliberately falsified the sale details. E&V is a top-tier agency with a lot to lose if they were to be found cheating in this way. I think there may be some details missing from this story.
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  #33  
Old 23.11.2020, 20:59
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

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I find it very hard to believe that that particular real estate agent deliberately falsified the sale details. E&V is a top-tier agency with a lot to lose if they were to be found cheating in this way. I think there may be some details missing from this story.
I agree with you that some details may be missing, and that it is unlikely that any agend of E&V would deliberately falsify details.

However, whether there had been such a wilful falsification, or just a typo, I don't really see how E&V would have much to lose.

E&V agent (through carelessness or malice aforethought): We've got a huge property for sale.
Potential Buyer, on or after inpection: Oh, it doesn't look that huge, to me. I thought the ad said n.
E&V agent, or the office: Oh, did the ad say n? I'm not sure. I'll pass that on and someone will get back to you.
E&V agent, or the office, calling back: Sorry, that was a typo. We've revisited the property to measure, and have also compared the plans registered at the municipality. These match. Sorry, you are right. The property is not n, but n-x. Are you still interested?

That's all it would take.
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  #34  
Old 23.11.2020, 21:27
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

E&V once showed me a parcel of land that wasn't even for sale!
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Old 23.11.2020, 21:34
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

My guess would be a simple cut-and-paste error.

Half the adverts on Homegate use the same text, which is exactly what I would do in their place since there's only so many ways you can say "nice house, good view, good neighbourhood".

Or the seller told porkies to E&V.

btw does this thread hold the record for most speculative input without any update from the OP yet?
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Old 23.11.2020, 21:38
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

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How big is the plot and house? Those differences could be 5% or 50%, even so I'm surprised you didn't notice.

124m2 on a plot sounds quite a lot, but 85m2 is the size of a two bedroom flat!
Engel & Völkers deals usually with upper-class real-estate and could be 500m2 home where OP would not notice 85m2 .... I'd not.

Same for a land - plot of 2500m2 is similar to one of 3500m2 ... as it's just 5m wider and 5m longer . So no, one won't notice that until looking at .

for the home prices - Switzerland uses m3 as unit of measure when building house - by the SIA Norm 116 .

so it's not m2 that normally you build house by - but the cubic meter of space you get ( some Villa's would have large entry with 3-store high open-space as example and much less m2 usable space than home next to it - while larger m3 speaks for the volume and price.

Last edited by hoover1; 23.11.2020 at 22:00.
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Old 25.11.2020, 18:27
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

Thank you for reading our post and for your comments. We shared our experience about buying the house advertised by E&V as a bitter lesson-learned, so other fellow expatriates don’t get into a similar situation when buying property in Switzerland. There is no intention to defame anyone.

We had very positive experiences with real estate agencies in our home country in the past. So when the E&V agent presented us with a glossy selling brochure, in all honesty, it did not occur in our minds at all to question or doubt the information in the sales brochure prepared by the agency. We did believe, as one of the posts suggested, that an agent of a top-tier agency such as E&V, ‘had done their homework ahead of time and published something accurate’. The property is relatively big and the yard is landscaped with trees, bushes and a pond so it’s not easy to gauge the square footage by eye when we came to see it. And the agent gave her best prepared pitch, pointing out the views, the location, etc.

When we later came to discuss with E&V why there were the wrong measurements in the selling brochure – the lot size being stated as 124 sq.m.larger than in the land registry records, a copy of which we obtained much later, and useful house surface of 85 sq.m larger than calculated later too, based on the same original floor plans – they never transparently admitted what exactly happened and why such grossly inaccurate information was put in the brochure. Instead, their lawyers kept pushing the line that they are not liable for errors (which is absolutely true that it’s included in the selling brochure) and that we ourselves should have checked and verified the information in their brochure.

At some point, I remember feeling how ridiculous the whole situation was: the house was advertised by a well-established agency, the reputation of which made us believe in their professionalism. But according to their lawyers’ arguments, it was basically our fault that we did not check the info they put in because we trusted the E&V agents.
The lesson learned: if we would be able to rewind the whole thing back, we would not go by the face value of the glossy sales brochure prepared by E&V – we should not have got hooked emotionally with the house when it was shown to us by the E&V agent, we should not have trusted the information given in the agency's brochure. Instead, we should have checked, verified, and requested all the information sources before even going to see the house. The reason for this post: if you are an expatriate in Switzerland like us, with a vague idea how the real estate business works here but you want to buy a property, do your homework very diligently yourself. As our case shows, the agency with a big name like E&V could put grossly inaccurate numbers in the selling brochure, without being liable for doing so. And last but not least, it is very true that the sq.m., particularly of the land is very important for the property appraisal and valuation in Switzerland.
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Old 25.11.2020, 19:34
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

I should hold on to the brochure and then when you come to sell...
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Old 25.11.2020, 21:10
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

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I should hold on to the brochure and then when you come to sell...
And keep the online advert alive in archive.org in case buyers do a search.
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Old 25.11.2020, 21:53
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Re: Awful experience: Engel & Völkers real estate agency

In my work domain, I use lawyers in two kinds of situations;

1. When I'm concerned there might be a significant legal (or reputational) risk to my organisation

or,

2. When I'm contacted by someone else's lawyers that makes me concerned that there might be a significant legal (or reputational) risk to my organisation

and,

Where the lawyer cost is a fair bit less than the estimated legal (or reputational) risk to my organisation

OP - How did it end up in a lawyer meeting? and did you bring your own lawyers to the party?
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