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Old 04.04.2015, 11:27
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Tips needed for buying a house in Switzerland

Hi

We are thinking about buying a house in Switzerland (arc lemanique) and wanted to ask for any advice as this is our first time and we don't know what we don't know. For example, what % of the asking price should we offer or should we get a full structural survey and how much does it all cost?

All advice would be appreciated no matter how obvious it might seem.
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Old 04.04.2015, 11:33
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Re: Tips needed for buying a house in Switzerland

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Hi

We are thinking about buying a house in Switzerland (arc lemanique) and wanted to ask for any advice as this is our first time and we don't know what we don't know. For example, what % of the asking price should we offer or should we get a full structural survey and how much does it all cost?

All advice would be appreciated no matter how obvious it might seem.

You can offer whatever you want, it's irrelevant, it is what the buyer will accept that is relevant and a lot of people here don't need to sell, so they are quite happy to keep an inflated price on their (nice) property for a long time.

You'll need min 20% cash deposit of which no more than 10% can come from your pension fund

The bank will lend according to your income and not more than 80% of the banks' estimation. They don't really care what you pay for it !

Notary and taxes are between 4-5% of purchase price, budget 5%.
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Old 04.04.2015, 12:52
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Re: Tips needed for buying a house in Switzerland

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Hi

We are thinking about buying a house in Switzerland (arc lemanique) and wanted to ask for any advice as this is our first time and we don't know what we don't know. For example, what % of the asking price should we offer or should we get a full structural survey and how much does it all cost?

All advice would be appreciated no matter how obvious it might seem.
As well as the other reply...

Structural surveys are entirely optional. You buy a house as you see it but the owner has a legal responsibility to tell yiu of any faults they know about.

Get the electrics checked by a certified electrician (there is a list per canton) as you have to have a formal check and pass when you buy. Few wires, few hundred. Replacing the main box downstairs, possibly tens of thousands.

Remember under the new laws y ou have to draw the debt down to 33/66 in the first I think 15 years (might be 25) after that you can go interest only.

People don't pay off the loan in switzerland, you keep the debt forever as its tax efficient.

Finally based on your location if your buying around vevey from a personal point having spent 18 months finding ours here, there's a lot of junk which stays on for months and is slowly creeping down in price but a good house around the lake will still sell quickly.
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Old 04.04.2015, 12:59
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Re: Tips needed for buying a house in Switzerland

We were very lucky that my parents were locals and knew all the artisans who've worked on the house in the past, electricians, builder, plumbers, heating engineers, roofers/carpenters- who all agreed to come and talk to us and re-assure us that this very old house is totally solid and sound, and listed the few things that would have to be done- which we did as soon as we moved in. Now we only have cosmetic things to do- but the whole house is structurally sound, heating, electrics, beams and woodwork treated where there was minor woodworm on totally sound 17C roof beams, etc. Their advice and knowledge of the building was invaluable- and we knew exactly what's what by the time we signed.
We also had all the records for work done in past 30+ years with all the bills, etc, all done by local people too.

If you do know someone locally who knows all the above and can ask them to provide history of works and maintenance, it is invaluable (but not legally binding on their part, of course). Our local guys are expensive, but I know I can trust them. We could have had the new shower room/Wc done much cheaper by French workers- but the reassurance that the local guys will now garantee the work and can be called at any time of day or night in case of problems, is worth gold for us. They are not likely to jump in a van and come and sort us out in an emergency at night or week-end, or drop everything else- if we bought cheaply from France or the UK.

I am always amazed how people jump in and start putting in new kitchens and batrooms, re-decorate, etc- but do not do essential work to the main structure, be it plumbing, heating, wood or damp treatment, electrics, etc. We have so far done very little cosmetically to the house, but have ensured all the under-lying infrastructure is brought up to date and made totally sound. Not quite so exciting, as you can't 'see what you get for your money' but imho so much more important/essential. Cosmetic phase has now started, which is a lot more fun and exciting. Guest bathroom now, including insulation and new triple glazed window and new kitchen next year, hurrah.

Last edited by Odile; 04.04.2015 at 13:20.
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Old 05.04.2015, 14:50
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Re: Tips needed for buying a house in Switzerland

Thanks to everyone for this advice. No matter much I might know there is always something more to learn. Much appreciated
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Old 05.04.2015, 15:03
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Re: Tips needed for buying a house in Switzerland

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You'll need min 20% cash deposit of which no more than 10% can come from your 2p pension fund
FTFY.

3p has no limits that I know of, as I used part to put down over 20% (and my wife the other 13%) to get an interest only loan.

Tom
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Old 05.04.2015, 15:35
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Re: Tips needed for buying a house in Switzerland

It would seem that for the small area of Canton Valais which is within your search area, 2.5% in taxes and notary fees is more likely than the 5% you would probably have to pay in Canton Vaud. How about Le Bouveret or Villeneuve if paying less is a deciding factor? Equally beautiful for views.
If this is not correct, I am sure someone will put me right........
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Old 05.04.2015, 15:43
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Re: Tips needed for buying a house in Switzerland

About the structural survey or home inspection:

I fully agree that a comprehensive home inspection is absolutely necessary.

However, be aware of a few things:

As Mikers points out, there is no mandatory inspection as you might expect in your home country. An inspection is done at the buyer's cost and at the seller's granting of access to the property.

Some sellers might be offended (or feign offence) at the request to have an inspection done, some going so far as to shut off negotiations at this point. (We lost one property this way, and almost lost the house we eventually bought.) Nonetheless, buying without an inspection would be foolhardy.

During the recent housing bubble sellers became used to calling all the shots, as there were generally dozens of competing buyers for the few available properties. But in many areas the market has changed, as demand has dropped the buyer now has more leverage. If you run into a seller such as this, walk away - it's likely only going to go downhill from there and you are better off having dodged that bullet.

The cost of a house inspection can run from a thousand to several thousands. Make sure you get a quote for the architect's services beforehand to avoid surprises. (Then there's that whole 'cost of a quote' thing...)

Your bank can likely recommend an architect to conduct the inspection. If not, ask for a recommendation from the Gemeinde Bauamt - if they are willing to do so. Not all are. (If the property is in a small village, though, and you go with someone local: do make sure that person really is neutral, and really is working for you.)

If you find a property that is in need of renovation, your next step is to speak to the relevant authority, usually the Bauamt if in a Wohnzone or the Amt für Raumplanung or similar in Ausserbauzones, to determine if what you wish to do is allowed.

Finally - take Today_Only's point to heart - many sellers have an unrealistic view of the value of their property, and few have any urgent need to sell.

Good luck!
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