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Old 29.06.2017, 14:23
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Re: Parametric Analysis of Rent v. Buy

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Speaking of which, happy with the "new" mailboxes?
Not installed yet. I await with baited breath this significant improvement to my quality of life

New debate, likely necessitating a special owners meeting: Should we ban stickers and have the 'keine Reclame/ gratis Zeitungen' engraved onto pre-mounted plates? (I shudder to ask the cost...)

Ah the joys of home ownership in a communal society...

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Old 30.06.2017, 09:40
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Re: Parametric Analysis of Rent v. Buy

A couple of additional/potential costs to add to your spreadsheet:

A. Cost of legal advice. Although many try hard to hang on to the notion of a simpler time, you really have to either be an expert in Swiss property law yourself or hire one. As you will be new to Switzerland this is a point that must be stressed.

Unlike buying in the US, there are few consumer protections when buying property in Switzerland. In a country where renting is still overwhelmingly the norm, there is a sort of holdover assumption that anyone in the position to buy should be able to look after him/her self.

Yes, many people, especially agents, will try to tell you that there is no need to involve lawyers. Some sellers will even back out of the sale if you have a lawyer on your side. But given the shenanigans that go on, if you do not know Swiss property law yourself, if your German, and more importantly your legalese, is not sufficient to research the ins and outs of a purchase contract, you would be foolish to attempt a purchase without a lawyer's advice.

I'm not (too much of) an idiot, and I can read a German legal text reasonably well. Yet not being a Swiss lawyer, and without the background understanding of the OR to the depth that one needs here, I have a tendency to unconsciously interpret what I read through my default lens of US law, and that is can mean an expensive mistake.

Generally speaking, here in Switzerland caveat emptor goes beyond what you may be used to. The notion of 'selber schuld' (it's your own fault) underlies much of Swiss life, property purchases to an even greater degree. The cultural onus is on you to make sure you don't get screwed over, rather than on the other party to do the right thing. Thus the aforementioned shenanigans, and 'selber schuld', it's your own fault for failing to see that the other party is pulling a fast one.

Rule of thumb: The more often the counter party says 'We are all honest folk, no need to drag lawyers into this' the more likely you need a lawyer watching your back.

And that will not be inexpensive, so should be factored into your equation.

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An aside, given that you are from the US: Typically there is no buyer's agent in a property sale. There is only the seller's agent, who does not work in your interest. From the start you don't have the same level of built-in protection you would in a US property sale. Anyone who works in your interest will have to be paid by you.

Inspections are becoming more common, but are still not necessarily the norm. Some sellers may walk on hearing you want an inspection but you should have one done. Factor that cost in as well.

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B. The mailbox reference in the previous post is something that is typical in Switzerland - many, perhaps most, properties have some degree of common ownership interest. Certainly that will be the case with a flat, but even stand alone houses are likely part of some kind of owner's association.

In such associations, decisions are usually made by majority rule - meaning your fellow owners can compel you to spend money on things you might not expect, need, or want. Put aside a good chunk o' change for this.

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C. Be aware that even your six month time line might be unrealistic. Things move slowly here.

Your property search may take a long time, and closing on a sale likely longer than you might expect coming from the US. We were facing a deadline and so pushed for a three month closing. The bank, notary, agent, seller all threw up their hands in horror, saying it would be impossible to get the paper work together in under six months. As timing was critical we pushed, but ended up paying a fair amount in expediting fees. It's not impossible to close in under 6 months, certainly, but it might be more expensive.


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A long-winded way of saying: There be dragons. Make sure you truly understand how things work here before you put a significant portion of your assets on the line.
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