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  #61  
Old 07.01.2011, 23:40
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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Thanks guys, yes, I have access to HomeGate too Obviously theres houses in the 500-900k range, but there's plenty in the 1 Mill range too that are really nothing spectaular, for ex. a 850k house in Schalunen, 20-30 min outside Bern:

http://www.immoscout24.ch/IS24Web/_V...003331&index=5

Put that house in any other country, ouside of a major city and no way would it sell for that price.
....
Anyway, my main point was that the system here makes owning unattractive compared to renting, and that the ones who do own their homes, basically never pay off the loan. And this system goes contrary to most of the rest of the civilized world.
...

By other members you've been given other examples of countries with a similar system with loans you never pay off - you can add Sweden to that list too (and probably quite a few other European countries also). And nowadays, since the vikings are long gone, Sweden is usually seen as part of the civilized world. So maybe stop repeatingly making sweeping generalizations and rather compare with the actual reference you have - the US.

Also, the house in the link (nice house) - for sure you need to cough up about 850KCHF, if not more, if placed outside a major city elsewhere in Europe - at least outside any of the Scandinavian capitals - even with todays economy. So again, please use the appropriate reference i.e. you are comparing with the market you know = US.
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Old 08.01.2011, 05:54
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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Gotcha...but I don't think anyplace will be as bad off as USA. I am in the USA temporarily working on an assignment till next year (my main residence is in Switzerland) and the building here is not up-to-standard. Sorry...Even so called "luxury homes" are not up to standard with some of the best apartments in Switzerland. Unless you want to pay 12 million for a home in USA I wouldn't invest in the market. Plus owning a home shouldn't been seen largely as an investment, you buy because you love it and want to live there. Switzerland has been able to avoid a lot of the pitfalls because the people are more reasonable and won't try and buy a home while working on a wage from Burger King. The mentatility is different. Maybe you will see that once you are in Switzerland...
Is that directed at me? I've been to Switzerland many times and heard all about our terrible wooden houses over and over (not from the Swiss so much as from Germans). "Up to standard" is a completely different meaning in every country. No one buys a house intending to pass it on to his/her children or to live in it, honestly, beyond an average of 7 years. Land is cheap, lumber is cheap, there are fewer regulations, there is less connection to a certain place. Many reasons for the way housing is in the U.S. Maybe the tide will turn and people will "build to last", but I wouldn't hold my breath. Neighborhoods decline and lose value, and there's so much space that it's easier to just move on and put the next houses up. You can't justify the expensive building (except in places like Manhattan) because the land is so much cheaper and people will simply move.

Historically, people from modest backgrounds were able to afford houses. The past 10 years have been an aberration. I recommend reading "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis to understand what has happened. Mortgages to people who couldn't afford it had much more to do with the banking industry than the "reasonableness" of the people. Human nature dictates that if someone is giving you free money, you will take it. Interestingly, UBS was a major player in the housing debacle and made lots of terrible loans during the bubble years. I wonder why their ethics/analyses are different in the two countries?

Sigh ... I think there should be a corollary to Godwin's law stating that every (international) internet discussion that doesn't wind up with Hitler ends up discussing the obviously sub-par Americans.
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Old 08.01.2011, 07:36
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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Mortgages to people who couldn't afford it had much more to do with the banking industry than the "reasonableness" of the people. Human nature dictates that if someone is giving you free money, you will take it. Interestingly, UBS was a major player in the housing debacle and made lots of terrible loans during the bubble years. I wonder why their ethics/analyses are different in the two countries?
As an American who sold his house just before the bubble burst, I'd really like to jump in on that one. First, the obvious reason for the different ethics/analyses is that companies don't have ethics, people do; and the people who work at UBS in the US are mostly - go figure - Americans.

Second, I'm sure this has been discussed ad nauseum on the forum elsewhere, but the sub-prime crisis was contributed to by a number of factors, including pretty piss-poor HUD policies and pressure under Clinton that the Bush administration didn't get around to (i.e. had no political stomach for) fixing. In fact, a series of poor government policies in that area stretches back 70 years. But in short, that was the result of unqualified people receiving mortgages at teaser rates.

Here you won't have unqualified people receiving mortgages, because you can't buy a house until you've saved 20% of its value. If you've had a salary for years that has enabled you to save 200k, you're unlikely to be in a situation where the interest on 1'000'000 CHF (currently less than a thousand bucks a month) is likely to be a problem for you.

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Historically, people from modest backgrounds were able to afford houses.
Not so much. In the "distant" past by American standards, people simply moved into some open space, built a house and called it their own. Land was essentially free. In the recent past, a variety of subsidies backed by the government have enabled a greater range of people to own houses (of course, what comes from the gov't comes from the people, but that leads to a separate discussion on taxes). America has always had large amounts of land, but most of it's in places where people don't want to / can't live. Moving out to the Great Plains when your job is in Manhattan, for example, doesn't work.

I remember my father lecturing me on home ownership, telling me how important it was and how much money it would make, and I'm pretty sure every American child gets something similar, but too many of us just take that as gospel rather than understanding and reacting intelligently to market conditions. There's no such thing as the free money you referenced, and everybody knew that long before the bubble - it was individual's fault as much as the big faceless companies everyone loves to blame. Here in Switzerland, people actually seem to do the math and make reasonably smart decisions about it.
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Old 08.01.2011, 08:28
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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There already WAS a big bubble in Switzerland in the 80s. Many people are only now going into profit. This bubble is what made the banks enforce a 20% or more down payment. It's a big joke that they then went against their own better judgement and got into the market in the US. They really should have known better.
Additionally capital gains tax (Grundstuckgeweinsteuer (literally 'piece of land profit tax)) starting at about 40%, but reducing with the years, was also introduced. This really stopped speculation.

My brother-in-law bought a huge old 4-storey house on the Züriberg at auction in 1989 when the ZKB were selling 50 properties they had on their hands as a result of loans they made to a property speculator who went bust. Unlike the US these sold, not for $10, but for about 20% below the market value...
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Old 08.01.2011, 09:07
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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A property owner is charged rental tax ( Imputed rental value ). Eigenmietwert in DE.
Interesting article from Swissinfo.
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My explanation is to keep providing an income to the bank.

I would say 100% of houses have a mortgage in Switzerland, and if you are an owner of a house without a mortgage, you pay much more taxes because of it.
We know a number of people who own their homes who will pay off their mortgages. Our first set of mortgages expire this year, and we will reduce the bank's share by about 10 %. We will repeat the process every 5 or 6 years until the mortgage is paid off or we retire, whichever comes first. I'm not so concerned about owning our home outright, but I don't like that 70 % belongs to the bank.

Tax money at least goes to the local government, and theoretically the home owner gets something back. Mortgage interest does not bring any improvements to the home owner, except a tax deduction.
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  #66  
Old 08.01.2011, 09:48
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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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?
20 minutes drive to Zurich, 30 minutes to the mainstation with S Bahn (station is 6 minutes walk, autobahn is 2 minutes drive). I found it on Homegate. PM me for details.
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  #67  
Old 08.01.2011, 10:06
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

Instead of trying to analyze why the Swiss housing market is different or inferior to the US/UK one, why not ask why the US/UK housing market is a good model in the first place and why should it be emulated here? What has basically happened in the US/UK in the past 50 years is that instead of creating valuable goods that can be sold on the global market for profit, both countries have allowed their manufacturing to collapse, and have outsourced it China/India/Mexico. Instead, both countries have generated income by artificially inflating house prices and selling them to each other at ever increasing prices, and then pretending that the higher price is "profit" created by doing absolutely nothing. People then borrowed against the pumped up price to buy things (cars, TVs, consumer goods) that are now almost exclusively made abroad. People also made the mistake of thinking their retirement savings was in their house, and therefore saved very little on the side. It was all a Ponzi scheme, and the housing crash that the UK/US is now experiencing is a painful reminder of fallacy of the whole concept. Many people in both countries are now in precarious financial situations due to the "buy now, it will only go up" mentality.

Meanwhile, in Switzerland, housing prices have remained high, but relatively stable, house-flipping is suppressed by clever tax policy, and the country has a healthy manufacturing base that creates valuable things and services that the world market buys. People save for their retirements by mandatory pension contribution, and the social security system is viable. And most people rent.

So, which system is working here?
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Old 08.01.2011, 11:36
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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Instead of trying to analyze why the Swiss housing market is different or inferior to the US/UK one, why not ask why the US/UK housing market is a good model in the first place and why should it be emulated here? <snip>
This post reminds my of my neighbours in the UK some 25 years ago. The both had elderly parents and no siblings.

With the death of the her parents, they inherited their home, sold it, paid off their mortgage on their own house, put cash in the bank and the wife stopped working and bought a couple of dogs.

A couple of years later the same thing happened to his parents and they now had a couple of hundred 1000 in the bank. So at just over 40 he didn't see the point of getting up early and coming home late each day and he quit his job too.

They have lived for the last 25 years on the gains of the UK property market. Not actually contributing anything to the UK economy, other than as consumers - then of mainly imported goods...
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Old 08.01.2011, 13:05
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

To steer away a little from the US/UK, my friends who come from Eastern Europe and the Middle East (and a few other places) who moved to Switzerland are also having a problem understanding the "70% of the population rents" situation in Switzerland, as home-ownership is the norm where they came from as well. So I don't think it's just a US/UK thing.

Acutally, if anyone has a link to stats about home-ownership vs. renting in different countries I'd be interested to see it, because I'd venture to guess in most countries (besides US/UK) the majority of the populatiuon own their own homes. I still think CH is an exception where the majority rents. And I'm still having trouble understanding why exactly.
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Old 08.01.2011, 13:08
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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As an American who sold his house just before the bubble burst, I'd really like to jump in on that one. First, the obvious reason for the different ethics/analyses is that companies don't have ethics, people do; and the people who work at UBS in the US are mostly - go figure - Americans.

Second, I'm sure this has been discussed ad nauseum on the forum elsewhere, but the sub-prime crisis was contributed to by a number of factors, including pretty piss-poor HUD policies and pressure under Clinton that the Bush administration didn't get around to (i.e. had no political stomach for) fixing. In fact, a series of poor government policies in that area stretches back 70 years. But in short, that was the result of unqualified people receiving mortgages at teaser rates.

Here you won't have unqualified people receiving mortgages, because you can't buy a house until you've saved 20% of its value. If you've had a salary for years that has enabled you to save 200k, you're unlikely to be in a situation where the interest on 1'000'000 CHF (currently less than a thousand bucks a month) is likely to be a problem for you.



Not so much. In the "distant" past by American standards, people simply moved into some open space, built a house and called it their own. Land was essentially free. In the recent past, a variety of subsidies backed by the government have enabled a greater range of people to own houses (of course, what comes from the gov't comes from the people, but that leads to a separate discussion on taxes). America has always had large amounts of land, but most of it's in places where people don't want to / can't live. Moving out to the Great Plains when your job is in Manhattan, for example, doesn't work.

I remember my father lecturing me on home ownership, telling me how important it was and how much money it would make, and I'm pretty sure every American child gets something similar, but too many of us just take that as gospel rather than understanding and reacting intelligently to market conditions. There's no such thing as the free money you referenced, and everybody knew that long before the bubble - it was individual's fault as much as the big faceless companies everyone loves to blame. Here in Switzerland, people actually seem to do the math and make reasonably smart decisions about it.
The decisions to bet on the wrong side(ultimately) of the sub prime market were approved by the big Swiss executives in Switzerland.
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Old 08.01.2011, 13:14
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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To steer away a little from the US/UK, my friends who come from Eastern Europe and the Middle East (and a few other places) who moved to Switzerland are also having a problem understanding the "70% of the population rents" situation in Switzerland, as home-ownership is the norm where they came from as well. So I don't think it's just a US/UK thing.

Acutally, if anyone has a link to stats about home-ownership vs. renting in different countries I'd be interested to see it, because I'd venture to guess in most countries (besides US/UK) the majority of the populatiuon own their own homes. I still think CH is an exception where the majority rents. And I'm still having trouble understanding why exactly.
The US and UK are historically risk taking,entrepreneurial countries, while Switzerland is not. Switzerland tends to go more for stability, and most Swiss don't want to take the risk of their property declining in value. I think more Americans and British will probably think a bit more about it now, but in a few years time the speculation will return.
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Old 08.01.2011, 13:22
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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They have lived for the last 25 years on the gains of the UK property market. Not actually contributing anything to the UK economy, other than as consumers.
..and in what other way could they have contributed to the UK economy?
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Old 08.01.2011, 13:32
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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..and in what other way could they have contributed to the UK economy?
By designing or manufacturing a useful product, creating a new business or service, in short actually working for a living instead of living off the artificially inflated price of inherited properties. Do you actually work for a living?
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Old 08.01.2011, 13:44
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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By designing or manufacturing a useful product, creating a new business or service, in short actually working for a living instead of living off the artificially inflated price of inherited properties. Do you actually work for a living?
...and because they have some money on the side they have to reinvest it...and maybe squander it on a silly idea?
Also, because of their free time, they've probably spent more money on products than the average household...which means, that they contributed to the UK economy.

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Old 08.01.2011, 14:25
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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..and in what other way could they have contributed to the UK economy?
By working, producing goods and services, and paying income tax and national insurance...
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Old 08.01.2011, 14:36
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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I still think CH is an exception.
Yes it is. In many, many ways. Either you understand and live a happy, comfortable life here or you spend your days unable to grasp the concept and will always be miserable.
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Old 08.01.2011, 14:38
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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By working, producing goods and services, and paying income tax and national insurance...
..but they didn't need to work anymore and therefore had enough money to survive otherwise. Also, their withdrawal from the workforce opened up oportunities for 2 other individuals who needed a job.
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Old 08.01.2011, 15:20
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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...
Here you won't have unqualified people receiving mortgages, because you can't buy a house until you've saved 20% of its value. If you've had a salary for years that has enabled you to save 200k, you're unlikely to be in a situation where the interest on 1'000'000 CHF (currently less than a thousand bucks a month) is likely to be a problem for you...
Now I'm worried that I might be unqualified, since I got my 20% by buying a house in the UK and selling it 3 years later...
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Old 08.01.2011, 15:21
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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..but they didn't need to work anymore and therefore had enough money to survive otherwise. Also, their withdrawal from the workforce opened up oportunities for 2 other individuals who needed a job.
Marvellous! So inheriting enough money to never have to work again, all gained from the increase in property prices, is good for the economy I see...
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Old 08.01.2011, 17:10
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Re: Explanation for the Swiss Housing System?

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Marvellous! So inheriting enough money to never have to work again, all gained from the increase in property prices, is good for the economy I see...
..you lose some and you win some. Your neighbors were on the winning side. I think you're just bitter that you had to get up and go to work.
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