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Old 01.10.2015, 11:19
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Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

Hello everyone,

My wife and I are getting close to making an offer on the house that we like (Lausanne area). Naturally we aren't clear on some things, so I wanted to pick EF brain on these. I did my homework, I've read all I could find on Google, including older EF threads. Some questions got answered, but few remained. Here they are:

1. House inspection/survey - Can anyone recommend an architect or a house inspector here in Vaud?

2. Notary costs - I've seen multiple mentions that in some cantons they are split 50/50 between the buyer and seller, while in others they are on the buyer entirely. What is it like Vaud?

3. Permit B - It allows to buy a primary residence to live in, however I cannot find any regulations as to how soon we are required to move in. Specifically, if we are to do a reno, is there anything need to be done on our side if we aren't planning to live in the house for the duration of it?

4. Buyer's agent - If we have one, do I understand correctly that their fees are paid by the seller? If yes, what's the typical cut?

The reason I am asking is that back in Canada if you are NOT to use an agent as a buyer, it was typically possible to negotiate the price down based on that. Basically, seller's agent would get too keep all the commission to themselves and agree to reduce it. Is there anything like this here?

5. Price/sales history - aside from comparis.ch, are there any online places/registries where I can look at the past purchases in the area? Or is it here also a closely guarded Realtors™ trove of data? Again, back in Canada, an access to this information was the one and only reason to use a buyer's agent.

Thanks!
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Old 01.10.2015, 11:32
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

"3. Permit B - It allows to buy a primary residence to live in, however I cannot find any regulations as to how soon we are required to move in. Specifically, if we are to do a reno, is there anything need to be done on our side if we aren't planning to live in the house for the duration of it?"

Swiss Authorities Online says:
"Buying a house or apartment in Switzerland as a foreign national
You are a foreign national wishing to buy real estate (house, apartment, land) in Switzerland. Under certain circumstances, you will need a permit.

Third-country nationals
You do not require a permit to buy a main residence (e.g. single-family house or owner-occupied flat) or building land where you live if you meet the following requirements:
  • You hold a valid residence permit, generally a B permit for foreign nationals.
  • You will live in that main residence for as long as you hold residence in that location.
  • If you wish to build on the land that you have purchased, you must do so within one year.
How to proceed?
If you wish to buy a house, flat or land, contact the authorities (land registry office or inspectorate) to find out whether you meet all of the necessary requirements or whether you need to obtain a permit."

https://www.ch.ch/en/real-estate-foreign-national/
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Old 01.10.2015, 11:42
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

4. Yes; seller pays all agent fees, typically around 3%.
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Old 01.10.2015, 11:51
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

@Mullhollander - We meet the requirements for purchasing, that I checked. It's the time frame for turning the purchased house into the primary residence that I am not clear on. The "1 year to build" part is what I was wondering about. Best to check with the authorities it seems.

@PaddyG - Do you know what's the typical commission split between the agents?
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Old 01.10.2015, 12:00
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

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4. Yes; seller pays all agent fees, typically around 3%.
Here in SZ using a buyer's agent is unusual. There is typically only one agent involved in the transaction - the seller's agent, paid by the seller. This agent (theoretically) represents only the interests of the seller.

Some agents claim to have lists of clients looking for houses - this is a marketing point to sellers to gain the listing. A seller would be wise to clarify (again, in writing) conflicting interest when the same agent represents both seller and buyer.

If a buyer chooses to use a separate agent to represent him, he either pays the buyer's agent himself, or negotiates with the seller's agent to split a commission. (Good luck with that.) If one engages a buyer's agent, one needs to be very clear as to who pays what. Get everything in writing.

As always, YMMV, by canton, Gemeinde, phase of the moon.
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Old 01.10.2015, 12:08
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

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Some agents claim to have lists of clients looking for houses - this is a marketing point to sellers to gain the listing. A seller would be wise to clarify (again, in writing) conflicting interest when the same agent represents both seller and buyer.
We went through an agent in parallel to listing it ourselves (she is the same agent through whom we bought our building project) and she agreed that if we found a buyer ourselves, she would waive her fees. As it was, as soon as she listed it, she already had 6 viewings lined up in the 1st week. We, however, had a single viewing from more or less the same advert. therefore I believe that many agents do have lists of potential buyers and are simply looking to match them with any property which comes their way.
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Old 01.10.2015, 12:09
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

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@Mullhollander - We meet the requirements for purchasing, that I checked. It's the time frame for turning the purchased house into the primary residence that I am not clear on. The "1 year to build" part is what I was wondering about. Best to check with the authorities it seems.

@PaddyG - Do you know what's the typical commission split between the agents?

Different concept probably, here there is usualy only one agent who receives a percentage between 2.5-4% and he may split this with other agents but this is not your concern. It depends on the deal he has with other agents/groups who marketed the house.

Notary fees in Canton Vaud are a shade under 5% paid 100% by the buyer. These are 3.3% Canton/commune tax and the balance is for the notary, very little negotiaion, if any here, notaries are a cartel. Calculate with 5%, you may have enough left over for a cup of coffee !
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Old 01.10.2015, 12:09
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

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As always, YMMV, by canton, Gemeinde, phase of the moon.

I like that.
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Old 01.10.2015, 12:19
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

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4. Yes; seller pays all agent fees, typically around 3%.

why would the seller pay for someone that the buyer appointed?
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Old 01.10.2015, 12:28
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

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why would the seller pay for someone that the buyer appointed?
If you appoint a buyer to find a property, they will either have a list of properties they are looking to sell, or they will approach private sellers and ask them if they want to be their agent (we had a lot of such calls when selling our flat). In any case, the seller will eventually pay them the commission. If a potential buyer directs their agent to approach a property listed by another agent, then the two agents will have to sort how who gets what; the buyer pays nothing, unless the initially paid a small fee to "sign on" with the agent. However, I've never come across such "signing-on fees" over here.
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Old 01.10.2015, 12:29
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

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why would the seller pay for someone that the buyer appointed?
Because that's how things work in quite a few countries. If a buyer is brought in by another agent, he gets a cut of the commission.

Last edited by Git; 01.10.2015 at 12:33. Reason: Not sure if this is everyone's type of humor, so to play it safe and civil... :)
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Old 01.10.2015, 12:39
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

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Because that's how things work in quite a few countries. If a buyer is brought in by another agent, he gets a cut of the commission.
buying agent is not typical here. if you hired one without agreeing ahead of time what you will pay and how to terminate the relationship, be prepared to be switzerlanded!
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Old 01.10.2015, 15:32
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

Alright, thanks, everyone. Much appreciate the input.

Two questions remain - the home surveyor/inspector pointers and a way to check past sales/pricing for the area. Any thoughts on these, please?
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Old 01.10.2015, 15:38
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

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Notary fees in Canton Vaud are a shade under 5% paid 100% by the buyer.
We paid just over 3% in Ticino last year.

Tom
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Old 01.10.2015, 15:43
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

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Alright, thanks, everyone. Much appreciate the input.

Two questions remain - the home surveyor/inspector pointers and a way to check past sales/pricing for the area. Any thoughts on these, please?
We priced our appt based on similar properties for sale in the same commune. It's not perfect, but is a good indicator if something is vastly overpriced. I'm not sure if there is a registry of sales as such.
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Old 29.11.2015, 10:21
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

What are the best months or seasons to buy a house in CH? Is there such a thing?
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Old 29.11.2015, 10:43
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

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What are the best months or seasons to buy a house in CH? Is there such a thing?
Why would there be a good season to buy a house? When people actually want to buy a house is a different thing.

So, historically, there's a bit of a sales increase around now up to Christmas, a bit of a slump in January and February and then things pick up a bit with a bit of a drop off over the summer.

So, if you want to increase your chances of someone else not buying your dream home then there would be more chance in Jan/Feb as not so many other people are buying!

On a practical note, if you were buying an old place, looking in the winter may be a good idea as you would be able to gauge how warm it was inside (if it was occupied).
You may also get an indication of how much sun it gets when the sun is lowest in the sky and at other times too but you could also work this out yourself with a bit of maths. (that kind of thing is useful if you are a gardener type, for example).
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Old 29.11.2015, 16:20
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

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We priced our appt based on similar properties for sale in the same commune. It's not perfect, but is a good indicator if something is vastly overpriced. I'm not sure if there is a registry of sales as such.
Best bet here is get the bank to value it, something they do as they consider a mortgage for you. They do have a clear formula for what houses are worth and it will give you an idea of the value of us house, which may not match the buying price.

Surveys are not mandatory here, you sort it out yourself if you want one. As part of the sale a condition is that the seller must tell you of any known defects and he is responsible for those if he doesn't and they subsequently appear. Still safer to have a survey though.
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Old 29.11.2015, 17:06
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

HI Git,
did you find an Architekt yet? I now a good one here in Zurich. My Mom renovated her house with him. She lives in Chur, so he also traveled a lot and maybe he would also come to the Lausanne area? If you are looking for a modern, clean design, I think he can make you a nice offer. Contact me if you are interested and I can forward his adress to you. All the best and good luck with your house!
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Old 29.11.2015, 22:26
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Re: Eyeing buying a house - some assorted questions

Notary fees depends on the canton (and maybe on the Gemeinde), I think it's 0.5% in Zurich.

On 5), the canton of Zurich has a web where you can get an idea of the previous years transactions price.
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