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  #21  
Old 06.01.2011, 14:31
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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<edit> but what you can't do in Switzerland is not be a property owner and not provide for your retirement...
Can you say that again without the triple negative? (can't-not-not) It confused me
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Old 06.01.2011, 14:52
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

Another attitude difference...

Coming from small town midwestern America, the land of apple pie, picket fences and 30 year fixed mortages, I grew up thinking of renting as a transitory condition. A necessary first step on the road to independence, but nonetheless one that should be dispensed with as soon as possible. Property ownership was a mark of stable adulthood, it was the first and probably most important sign of establishing roots.

This was reinforced by the tax system. Esto, you mentioned involvement in the community; where I come from a renter does not pay any (or not much) tax to the local community - revenues to support the schools, firemen, police, local library come from property taxes, paid by property owners. In a sense, it is often felt that a renter does not have the same stake in the fate of the community that a property owner does. Because of that view, society encourages home ownership, and sets policy along those lines. Home ownership is seen as something in the public interest.

(Obviously a renter indirectly pays these things in the form of rent to the owner... but we are talking about a state of mind here.)

But Switzerland is different - we cannot make the same assumptions as to what home ownership means within the society.

With the Swiss tax system, it is income tax that provides the local community with the needed revenue. This means that everyone - renter or owner - contributes. We all support the community, we all belong, we all have the same stake in the future of our neighborhoods. And, unlike where I grew up, renting is not a transitory state. I am a home owner yet think nothing of upping sticks, selling and buying somewhere else as my life changes. Despite my entrance into the Grundbuch, my ties to the community are weaker than my neighbors who have been renting their place for the last 40 years.

The 'Swiss Housing System' has not been seen by most as a problem, at least it wasn't until the latest rise in both housing prices and rents. (But that is the fault of all those danged furriners...) and therefore there hasn't been much of a call for change. But it's the price of housing - renting and owning - not the lack of opportunity to own a home, that is getting people upset.

Home ownership is simply not seen as an intrinsic value as it is in other places. Just a cultural difference.

I own a home because I'm too much of an American - I need my very own plot of ground for emotional reasons as much as practical and financial. YMMV.


Point of interest: Eigenmietwert was introduced as a way to level the playing field. Home owners can deduct mortgage interest and suchlike, renters cannot. Eigenmietwert was designed to eliminate what was seen as an unfair advantage.

Right now interest rates are very low so the Eigenmietwert is sometimes not offset by the deduction - but once rates rise (as it is predicted they will) most homeowners will see a balancing out. But even with the out-trade I have today, ownership is still far cheaper than the exorbitant rent I had to pay when I moved here as a clueless expat with no German and too many dogs.

Last edited by meloncollie; 06.01.2011 at 15:07.
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  #23  
Old 06.01.2011, 15:03
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

Just my two cents.

Having recently bought a house, I was a bit confused by all the strange laws and conditions, and the fact that you are not encouraged to own more than 34% of your house, with the bank owning the other 66%.
If you look a bit deeper, it kind of makes sense in a Swiss kind of way. The money that would normally be paid towards the principle of your loan can be put into an interest bearing offset account, of which all the payments are tax deductable. So in a roundabout sort of way, you can pay off your principle, but into a different account, I know its strange, but it kind of makes sense. About as much sense as not being able to vacuum your car on a Sunday, but hey, this is Switzerland.

I come from a country (Aus) which has home ownership as the holy grail, and unfortunately, in the last few years, the dream has become a total nightmare for those wanting to enter the market, and there is no way I would be able to afford the same house, my payments would nearly be 4 times as much. As well as the negative gearing tax breaks in Australia which do nothing but fuel debt ridden speculation, and a culture obsessed with selling ever more expensive real estate to each other has created some of the most over inflated real estate prices in the world. Some of the prices being asked for clapped out workers cottages would even make a Zürich banker a shiver in his shoes.

Add to that every time the country seems to be a risk of inflation, the RBA jacks up the interest rates, people are paying close to 8% on their loans, over half of their before tax income on just providing a roof over their heads and next to no renters rights so your overstretched landlord can (and does) jack up the rent whenever the interest rates rise......that seems even more crazy

Switzerland has a very sound retirement system in which people can afford to pay their mortage/rent once they have retired. Property speculation is not encouraged and hence the prices here are (for now) pretty stable, expensive, but stable.


Just my two cents.

Last edited by simonminissale; 06.01.2011 at 15:18.
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  #24  
Old 06.01.2011, 15:08
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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but 1 million CHF for an average house 30 min outside BERN??
Not sure where you're finding these 1 million CHF houses, but we're only 20 minutes out of Bern and I'd be happy to sell you ours for 60% of that when we move (the going rate).

Land costs are also huge, which is tied in with land availability. Rezoning is a slow and painful process here. Right now, while we're looking for a place, I wish they were a bit liberal with rezoning. But when I fly back to Canada and look out the plane window as we descend towards Toronto, I think maybe it's not such a bad idea to keep the strings tight...

By the way, house prices in most major Canadian cities are now approaching Swiss levels, the salaries are not equivalent, and the taxes are eye-watering, so I feel fortunate compared to my old friends back home.
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Old 06.01.2011, 19:12
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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.

By the way, house prices in most major Canadian cities are now approaching Swiss levels, the salaries are not equivalent, and the taxes are eye-watering, so I feel fortunate compared to my old friends back home.
not sure if the house prices are approaching Swiss levels but that topic is for another day.
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  #26  
Old 06.01.2011, 19:36
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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If you want to buy a house in Switzerland, prices are starting in the 1 million CHF range and upwards. 60 to 70% of the populatuion here rents.
I live in a market town about a half an hour from Bern and can count at least several houses on sale for well under 400K..... When we bought our home a few year ago it came for a little under that and the next door house was recently sold for 380K, so I don't understand where you get the idea that the starting figure is around the 1m mark...

When thinking of house prices in Switzerland it is important to remember that many Swiss pension funds are required to hold a high percentage of their investments in Swiss property and of course this has a big impact on house prices.

Good luck with that,

Jim.
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Old 06.01.2011, 19:43
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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Not sure where you're finding these 1 million CHF houses, but we're only 20 minutes out of Bern and I'd be happy to sell you ours for 60% of that when we move (the going rate).
I've been looking for something new/rennovated, 130 sq m or larger, and near a train-line. I can't find anything under 800k that fits that bill. If you move off a train-line or buy something older/not-rennovated, then yes, you can find a starter-type house in the 600k range. If your house is new and on a train-line and you're willing to sell it for 600k, PM me, seriously
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I live in a market town about a half an hour from Bern and can count at least several houses on sale for well under 400K..... When we bought our home a few year ago it came for a little under that and the next door house was recently sold for 380K, so I don't understand where you get the idea that the starting figure is around the 1m mark...
What town is that? Am I missing something?


As for prices in Canada/Australia, I can't speak for them, but where I grew up on Long Island, about 30 minutes outside of NYC, average house prices are about between $300-500k. If you took that same house and put it 30min outside Bern it would cost about 1 Million CHF. If you put it near Geneva or Zürich, God knows what it would cost...
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Old 06.01.2011, 19:59
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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If you took that same house
Are you really sure that it's the same house in the US as in Switzerland, or do you compare one of these shit cheap wooden US cottages with a properly built Swiss house?
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  #29  
Old 06.01.2011, 20:22
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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Are you really sure that it's the same house in the US as in Switzerland, or do you compare one of these shit cheap wooden US cottages with a properly built Swiss house?
Not sure what you got against wooden houses, but I lived in one for 20-odd years and they keep you warm and dry. No complaints. Plenty of wooden houses in EU as well. But yea, if they are built by Europeans and not Americans, then yea, they must be better
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Old 06.01.2011, 21:18
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

Is this what you are looking for?
http://www.homegate.ch/kaufen/103474243
It is a 15 minute drive or 28 minutes with public transport to Bern.

Wangenhubelstrasse 33
3173 Oberwangen b. Bern
ländlich
Row house
Number of rooms: 5.5
No. of floors: 3
Living space: 166 m2
Floorspace: 127 m2
Land area: 150 m2
Room height: 2.43 m
Year built : 2011
Volume: 619 m3
Available: 01.10.2011
Selling price: CHF 628,000.--
Mortgages from CHF 1,386.- / month
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  #31  
Old 06.01.2011, 22:13
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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If you want to buy a house in Switzerland, prices are starting in the 1 million CHF range and upwards.
The vast majority of properties on the market are under 1m. Ok, maybe not the vast majority. But a whole bunch of them. Slightly less than half of the properties on sale in Vaud for example are under 1m. That % is probably higher in many parts of Switzerland. (I'll have to search more). Most people live in apartments anyway. So your idea of living in a house is not the norm here and not the norm is many other places in Europe.

It's not always financial beneficial to own your house outright.

If you take the slow rise in prices over time (about 5%) and the low mortgages rates, then you could make more money in other types of investments. I think someone else also mention that you are indirectly paying off your house by putting the funds into your retirement account.

Also, remember that owning houses outright give people less mobility. Recently I read an article that about the countries with higher % of out right ownership historically always had higher unemployment rates. If you biggest asset is a property, you can't really move to find a job as easily.
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  #32  
Old 06.01.2011, 22:59
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

Basically Swiss houses are built better. You notice that you never (or hardly) hear about house fires in Switzerland? Or very few have or need central air conditioning? The concrete used to built Swiss houses helps in preventing outright disastrous fires, and keeps them cooler in the summer. You can find a Swiss apartment that will look better and function better than a high-end American home any day.

They don't have the flexibility in the American market and that is why the economy is so largely focused on "home ownership". They don't see any other way for people to be so-called secure for their retirement years. Well seeing that millions of homes are in foreclosure now, and the economy has gone bust this idea is seemingly coming to a close. A disaster Switzerland was able to avoid. Material ownership in Switzerland is not an obsession like that the Americans have. Like having the biggest car, or 3 cars in the driveway etc...Not saying some Swiss don't have these things but basically if you see someone in Switzerland with these things they can afford them. You won't have someone who works at McDonalds buying a home, or working 2 andf 3 jobs in order to pay the mortgage. In Europe people normally buy when they can afford it-most of the time.
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  #33  
Old 06.01.2011, 23:13
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

We bought our rock-solid Swiss house complete with bomb shelter (aka wine cellar) just 20 minutes outside of Zurich for a bit over 650K. Moved in a year and a half ago, and happy as pigs in mud. Look and ye shall find. Now stop moaning.
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  #34  
Old 06.01.2011, 23:34
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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I've been looking for something new/rennovated, 130 sq m or larger, and near a train-line. I can't find anything under 800k that fits that bill. If you move off a train-line or buy something older/not-rennovated, then yes, you can find a starter-type house in the 600k range. If your house is new and on a train-line and you're willing to sell it for 600k, PM me, seriously
600k is not the same as "under 1m"....
Here are some, 35 mins away in Biel:
http://www.homegate.ch/acheter/10348...ault&l=default
http://www.homegate.ch/acheter/10348...ault&l=default
http://www.homegate.ch/acheter/10348...ault&l=default


http://www.homegate.ch/acheter/10350...ault&l=default
http://www.homegate.ch/acheter/10351...ault&l=default

There are more. So, go have a look on homegate.

ETA: I <3 this one! It's more than your budget and further away... but personally, I <3 it. So you should consider it!
http://www.homegate.ch/acheter/10348...ault&l=default
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  #35  
Old 07.01.2011, 00:29
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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What town is that? Am I missing something?
Here is one in Langenthal, about 5 mins walk from the station, then a direct train to Bern.....

Another one, again about 5 or 10 minutes from the station in Langenthal

Or what about Wynau........

This is a nice one in Holderbank, but you'd need to use the Bus....

Or this one at Aarwangen

These are all within easy each of Bern and even after pumping some cash into them to bring them in to line with your wishes, you'd still be along way short of 1M....

Jim
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  #36  
Old 07.01.2011, 01:39
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

I guess it's a cultural thing.

Brits and Americans are obsessed with owning a property as in those countries renting has the stigma of failure, much the same as travelling by bus has the stigma of failure which is why everybody over 30 owns a house and has a car if they possibly can and the whole system has grown around that belief and expectation and hence perpetuates it.

In Switzerland, that is not the norm and you aren't considered a failure if you don't fit in that category. Hardly any of my friends here own a property (even the ones who make good money), but they invest heir money in other ways.

In the UK, the government would never dare go after home owners in a big way because they would insantly alienate the majority of the population. There is safety in numbers and if you put your money into a house there it's pretty safe.

In Switzerland home owners are a minority and the tenants are the majority which is why the government is careful not to step on the toes of tenants but doesn't mind being rough on owners. Again there is safety in numbers. Hence my advice, forget what they told you back home and do as the majority does no matter where you are.
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Old 07.01.2011, 01:47
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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Keep in mind a significant amount of the rental property is the banks, insurance companies, pension plans, and similar large organisations owning these. Add in the relatively small percent of homeowners, who necessarily have a significant mortgage, again owned by bank or financial co., due to the tax structure, inheritance laws, and also the cost. Thus nearly all controlled directly or indirectly by such big guys noted above.
Actually, at least in the larger towns such as Zurich, a significant portion of houses are owned by cooperative housing associations (Baugenossenschaften) which means the residents get to elect management and all profits are ploughed back into the system. The private landlords have to price their places competitively to keep up which is why renting is so comparatively cheap.
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Old 07.01.2011, 08:45
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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Basically Swiss houses are built better. You notice that you never (or hardly) hear about house fires in Switzerland? Or very few have or need central air conditioning? The concrete used to built Swiss houses helps in preventing outright disastrous fires, and keeps them cooler in the summer. You can find a Swiss apartment that will look better and function better than a high-end American home any day.
I have to agree. It starts with the differences in the building code and just gets better from there. Every time my family visits, they can't stop opening and closing doors, playing with windows, tapping on walls etc. I think the original post wasn't saying that wood construction was the problem, but rather the quality of wood construction in Canada and the US. Much as I would like to say my fellow Canadians can build a good house, it's all about show rather than function. I'm sure they won't fall down, but it's the detail work that lets them down. Go to a construction site in Canada and check the quality of framing. It's pressure-treated 2x4s, 2x6s and 2x10s (which are not the nominal dimensions), nail-gunned together. Now check a wood-framed house in CH. Solid, dried, laminated beams, massive cross section, through-bolted. Our outer walls have a 35 cm cross section and are truly an engineered structure. Nothing in modern Canadian construction comes close to it. Doors here weigh about twice as much, swing on complex hinges, are 360° gasket-sealed and are shut with a latch of watchmaker's precision. Windows are inert-gas-filled, rubber-gasketed, multi-articulating marvels. "Modern" windows in Canada may meet the R-Whatever norm, but they look like they were made in China from photo-copied plans. Roofing in Canada is asphalt shingles nail-gunned to plywood. Here it's kiln-fired tiles which fit together perfectly like a 3D puzzle. I could go on and on. My engineering eye tells me that every apartment and house here is just built to a completely different standard. Now, you could spec similar equipment in Canada, and then your house build would be over 1 million.

For comparison, 30 minutes outside Toronto (without a rapid transit connection), plywood-and-drywall new builds or 1960s wood-frame houses on 50'x125' lots are selling in the 500'000 - 600'000 CAD range, and you can literally blow a candle out on the drafts through the wall seams and windows. Traditional 1300 square foot brick row houses near the University of Toronto are over a million.
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  #39  
Old 07.01.2011, 08:49
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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We bought our rock-solid Swiss house complete with bomb shelter (aka wine cellar) just 20 minutes outside of Zurich for a bit over 650K. Moved in a year and a half ago, and happy as pigs in mud. Look and ye shall find. Now stop moaning.
Which area? (genuinely curious, as these are my requirements for my move). 20 minutes driving or 20 minutes public transit? Did you find it via the normal web sites, or through other contacts?
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Old 07.01.2011, 09:07
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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Doors here weigh about twice as much, swing on complex hinges, are 360° gasket-sealed and are shut with a latch of watchmaker's precision.
And, quite importantly, have to be able to hold off a roaring fire on the other side for at least 30 minutes. At least in new houses that's the case.
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