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Old 11.02.2011, 06:41
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Where to find houses to renovate?

Hi all,

We are looking to buy a house in Vaud / Geneva (Vaud side of the lake), but would like one that we can do up. I've trekked through all the various online advertising sites (e.g. homegate, immoscout, bestimmo, korus, etc) but there do not seem to be any houses to renovate.

Does anyone know of any agencies or websites that would be useful to approach / read?

Thanks in advance
GVAbound
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Old 11.02.2011, 10:18
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

Over here in the German-speaking part we receive an abundance of weekly free 'newspapers' with tons of local news, events and local real estate ads. Many of these ads never make it to any web site. I have seen ads for property requiring renovation occasionally. You may have something similar in the Romandie as well, more likely in the rural areas.
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Old 11.02.2011, 10:26
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

all I can say is best of luck.... fixer uppers are in short supply.

In my neighbourhood they are tearing down perfectly good single family houses ( having done so already with the fixer uppers ) in order to build apartment blocks.
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Old 11.02.2011, 10:31
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

hundreds of them, just look on homegate, anything even reasonably priced, let alone cheap, will need work, usually lots of it. We looked at loads of houses and without fail every single one needed work, some not so much, but most needed lots. When I say cheap I mean swiss cheap, so only 50k or so cheaper then others in the area, yet (for instance) had huge cracks in the walls, no floors, no heating etc etc more or less just a shell, and not a very good shell either, we looked at lots like this.
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Old 11.02.2011, 11:17
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

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hundreds of them, just look on homegate
I'm afraid that may be the case for your area, but around here the market is more than saturated and there is hardly anything like that available.

For OP, keep looking and jump when you find something. The housing market is extremely difficult with all the new companies in Nyon/Rolle, there is hardly anything for sale. And as Grynch said, the land is so valuable they are likely to rip it down and build 2-3 houses in its place.

Also, be aware of what you are getting yourself into, ie. what is your definition of renovation? Because of the so tight housing market, a 20 year old house with no upgrades in 20 years sells like a new house even though it needs new kitchen/paint/bathrooms etc.. this is what I call a renovation even though you can sell it/buy it for 1.5-2 million.

On the other end, is what I'd call a barn conversion, ie. an uninhabitable carcass that needs everything done to it. This can easily cost 1 million to buy AND require 1.5 million to make it habitable, and it cannot be done by yourself, due to the commune regs. etc., so you need swiss workers.

If you are looking for the former, expect to pay around 1.5 mill for a habitable but old, in need of renovation house, and look hard. If the latter, be aware of what this would entail, and there are even fewer of these due to them be ripped down for the land value.
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Old 11.02.2011, 13:41
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

I'd look further up at the foot of the Jura, near St Georges, or even over t'other side near VAllée de Joux or Vallorbe. Plenty there and cheap - but perhaps a good move as these areas are becoming more popular as the Riviera is totally saturated.
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Old 11.02.2011, 14:26
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

Thanks all. I have to concur with the comments on lack of availability - I have been stalking homegate and other property websites for around 2 1/2 years (I guess it is the British genes!) but have only ever seen 1 or 2 places. I work in Geneva, so Vallée de joux is a bit far, but we are starting to look around Arzier.

Thanks for the idea of the local newspapers - I will stop my default action of binning them as soon as they arrive. Need to see where I can pick them up for Nyon district however.
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Old 11.02.2011, 15:44
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

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Thanks all. I have to concur with the comments on lack of availability - I have been stalking homegate and other property websites for around 2 1/2 years (I guess it is the British genes!) but have only ever seen 1 or 2 places. I work in Geneva, so Vallée de joux is a bit far, but we are starting to look around Arzier.

Thanks for the idea of the local newspapers - I will stop my default action of binning them as soon as they arrive. Need to see where I can pick them up for Nyon district however.
There are fixer uppers but as mentioned they are probably rather far to commute to Geneva. But, hey, some people like long commutes.

Don't forget that in Switzerland people tend to put 1% of the value of the mortgage in up keep per year, so the houses are generally in good order. We bought a house built in the late 80s. The kitchens and bathrooms are dated in style (not too ugly) but they are practically perfect. The kitchen cabinets didn't even have scratches on the insides. I had a guy come in to look at changing just the counter tops and he said "but why? they are in perfect condition".... Ugh!

There were a few old farms in places like Le Gros-de-Vaud, or up in St Cergue. But again, probably too far to commute. (?) I don't think Arzier is really that cheap any more. I think you missed the boat on finding a place to renovate up there. I'm sure you'll find the right place. Just takes time.

Good luck!
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Old 11.02.2011, 15:54
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

Sorry I didn't know you wanted to commute. As it is true that over the other side of the Jura, there are some fabulous bargains to be had, and amazing fixer uppers. We were very lucky to find THE one for us. Sadly it is been 'badly' fixed so many times - since it was built in the late 16C - but we love it.
From Vallorbe the commute to Yverdon is 15 mins (train station) to Lausanne 30 mins and to Geneva 1h15- so in UK or US terms, a doddle.
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Old 11.02.2011, 16:19
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

Unless you move oout to the other side of Lausanne (think Vevey/Montreux) Yverdon, Chatel St Denis area i fear you will find it very tough. The area that you are looking at has a very high demand fro housing and anthinbg that may become available is snapped up by promotors or builders long before it gets anyewhere near the newspapers.

These guys can buy it, renovate it and make big profits and they all work together in th eusual Swiss cartel system.

Try Chatel St. Denis, it's 50 minutes commute to Geneva by train leaving from Palezieux. (train every hour in both directions)
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Old 11.02.2011, 16:30
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

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Hi all,

We are looking to buy a house in Vaud / Geneva (Vaud side of the lake)
have you thought about France, Divonne or somewhere? Cheaper, more land, older on average and generally in much worse state of repair (thats positive, right?)
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Old 11.02.2011, 16:51
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

Like TodayOnly says - the builders/promoters are constantly on the prowl with their local contacts- and will know about something suitable coming up months if not years before (they'll know how old/ill the owners are! and any impending 'departures', along the Riviera and short commutes. Most deals will be 'done' before the event even.
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Old 11.02.2011, 17:17
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

Thanks all for your inputs.

The only expat friends I know who have bought have all been incredibly lucky - normally buying next door to where they were renting (and promising their first born etc). Sounds like the only way to get in at the right time is to start hanging around hospitals and following people back home - not something I wish to get into

I guess that most of the estate agents don't put all their properties on the website and I should register with as many as possible.

There do seem to be so many trade-offs when looking at property in Geneva / Vaud (unless of course you are lucky enough to win the lottery) - for example, the views from Arzier are amazing, but are the road and transport links enough, especially in the winter? But it is difficult to look at anywhere with a bit of space closer to the lake. Hmmmmm.....
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Old 11.02.2011, 17:24
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Re: Where to find houses to renovate?

Some areas a it further away, like the Jura, could be great for somebody who doesn't have to be in the office every day, and can work partly on the internet/phone, etc. It is certainly not for everybody- as it isn't full of clubs, pubs and shops - but the scenery is fabulous, loads of sports activities, winter and summer, etc. As said I think it is a great middle to long term investment as it is so cheap, but is bound to become more popular due to total saturation by the lake.
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