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Old 14.03.2021, 22:58
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Difficulty in buying a property

Hello

My husband and I have been looking to buy a detached family home since beginning of covid, obviously covid has slowed things down a bit but we have seen the market pick up in the last month. Our search is focused on Mies, Tannay and Coppet - however, it seems we lose out very quickly on any properties that interest us. We are finding some of the agents difficult and non responsive (we use French in our contact with them) and wondered if anyone had a similar experience and had any tips to share?
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Old 15.03.2021, 08:30
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

Bottom line, there are far more people wanting to buy than properties available. It's a seller's market , pure and simple.

The pandemic has shown the downside of living in the tiny rabbit hutches that are typical flats here. With no outside life due to COVID, many people are looking to buy single family homes or at least something with more livable space.

But single family homes are rarely built anymore, for decades now developers have favored cramming as many people into a concrete box has they can. Rabbit hutches are often all that is available. For liveable houses there is a lot of pent-up demand, and very little supply. You will have competition, and perhaps lots of it, for most larger properties

In a seller's market, if an agent gets sufficient interest within the first few hours/days of posting an ad, they simply will not respond to further buyers. No sense in spending time showing a house to fifty people when you likely have a firm sale among the first five interested buyers.

So how do you get through?

If the area is hot enough, you likely need to register your interest and search profile with several agents.

This is a terrible strategy in a normal market, as you likely have to show your hand wrt your budget and flexibility, meaning you lose negotiating room. And, don't ever forget that the agent will call you a client, but he is not working for you - he only represents first his own interests, secondly the seller's. Being a client of an agency only means that you may be given details of a property before it is posted on Homegate.

But at least that gets you a head start.

Secondly, you have to be prepared to move immediately. You have to be ready to make an offer on the spot when you first view the house.

Again a terrible strategy in a normal market, because there is so much due diligence that should be done - especially as there are almost no buyer protections here. But the supply/demand outtrade often does not afford you that time.

So have your financing in place in advance, learn as much as you can about renovation/repair costs as well as learn about legalities ahead of viewing a property, to understand how much risk you can take handle in a worst case scenario. What ever you can do to speed up due diligence so that you can make a quick offer will help.

Third - be prepared to pay over market, and well over fundamental value. Actually, with so few properties available, there is no such thing as fundamental value, so best to let go of that notion. You won't get a good deal, but you just might get a house.

Fourth, keep you fingers crossed and hope you get lucky. Sometimes who gets the opportunity to bid on a propery falls down to sheer luck.

---

Actually there is a fifth - ask yourself if it really makes sense to buy property in Switzerland in this crazy market, or if you should be buying somewhere else.

---

Good luck with the search!
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Old 15.03.2021, 08:49
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

Welcome - back - to Switzerland and to the forum.

I suggest you read this related thread, Warning Tricks, started as recently as 8th March 2021, and quickly blossomed into several pages:
https://www.englishforum.ch/complain...-property.html

this one, Buying a House in Switzerland, including some further links:
https://www.englishforum.ch/housing-...wizerland.html

this one, about the financing across a couple:
https://www.englishforum.ch/housing-...-property.html

and this one, How to Find Property to Buy
https://www.englishforum.ch/housing-...perty-buy.html.

Bonne chance!
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Old 15.03.2021, 09:07
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

Excellent advice above.


We've been on the market for 2 years now, and what was in the past a comfortable budget for the north of canton Vaud, is now basically on the edge. Prices just in the last 12 month have increased with at least 10% for the same type of property. We have noticed that more and more people are moving from the "big" city into the country side, pushing up prices.


Actually there's this calculator on Moneyland: https://www.moneyland.ch/en/rent-or-buy-calculator which let's you calculate the break-even for renting vs. buying. For us personally it turns out from a financial standpoint not to be that interesting to buy anymore in this area.
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Old 15.03.2021, 09:17
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

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Secondly, you have to be prepared to move immediately. You have to be ready to make an offer on the spot when you first view the house.
Absolutely key, yes.
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Old 15.03.2021, 10:31
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

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Bottom line, there are far more people wanting to buy than properties available. It's a seller's market , pure and simple.

[...]


If the area is hot enough, you likely need to register your interest and search profile with several agents.

[....] Being a client of an agency only means that you may be given details of a property before it is posted on Homegate.

But at least that gets you a head start.
This. But it's not only limited to "getting the details before it goes on Homegate" but even "knowing that a property is for sale".

Around the lake of Zurich most houses who are up for sale will never be published on Homegate or any other sides. Never.
They will also never be published on a website of an agent. THEY WON'T BE PUBLISHED AT ALL.
What I mean is that the seller contacts an agency and the agency looks at their list. And chooses 3 or 5. Shows them to the seller. The seller gives the ok and then the agency will let the 3 to 5 people know. These 3 to 5 people will be shown the house if interested. If no one wants to buy the house, the agency may contact more people. But - at least for a reasonable house - this won't be necessary.

So in short. You need to list with EVERY agency renting / selling property in the area you are interested. Every agency. This is your best chance.
Also let everyone in the area know you are looking to buy in that area. Tell them why. Tell them how much you love the area. Why its so special to you. The more reason, the better.
Drop flyers. Put up an ad in Coop and Migros. Advertise in a newspaper.
If you are a family you might have better chances than if you are only a couple. Especially for a detached family house. Those mostly go to families. And rightly so if I may say.
So as a couple also look at apartments. You will probably have a hard time to find someone willing to sell a house to you.
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Old 15.03.2021, 10:43
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

Make sure you have a "dossier" that shows everything is ready, eg a bank statement showing how much cash you have for the deposit, a document from a mortgage provider showing how much you can borrow, your residency rights, no court cases/debts etc and generally try to signal to the agents that as a first time buyer you can move quickly as you have no chain. You want to signal that you're a buyer, not a browser...


...the problem with all this though is to be able to move quickly but not to feel rushed. I think people might take more time trying on a pair of jeans in a shop than buying a house, I've seen agents holding sales mornings where people walk in an out within 5 minutes and make offers on their way out, there's barely time to open a kitchen cupboard, let alone inspect for damp, consider upcoming repairs make price per square metre comparisons for value.
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Old 15.03.2021, 11:18
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

To ensure you get the property, first choose a Notary to work with, perhaps you have one already? Transfer to the Notary your estimated deposit - around CHF 25,000 is more than enough. It shows you are serious.

Then view the property and make the offer to buy, either for full asking or try and negotiate. The agent will have to call the seller in any case and if he does that there and then and they accept, agree a deposit and inform him that your Notary will confirm he holds the deposit immediately.

Then the ball starts to roll, contracts etc. The bank will anyway want to make an inspection and this is your chance to have a further look, and then back out if there are more problems foreseen. You will not lose your deposit.

Never pay any deposit to the agent or the seller, but do everything via the Notary.
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Old 15.03.2021, 11:22
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

In desirable areas- properties often don't go to market - they are sold by word of mouth. Most older people have been approached again and again by people telling them 'when you want to sell, please give me a ring'. There are even people masquerading as happy couples of families- so older owners who love their house and garden and don't want them destroyed sell to them- for it to be destroyed immediately for a development anyway. This happened to my mil, in the UK, in the 80s too.

My brother (half brother) will inherit of an older magnificent stone property, with direct access to lake, in one of the most desirable villages not too far from Lausanne- when his mil dies. He is in his 80s- and the vultures are circling.

If you want to buy, you may well have to widen your search to the villages at the foot of the Jura.
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Old 15.03.2021, 11:45
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

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So as a couple also look at apartments. You will probably have a hard time to find someone willing to sell a house to you.
Your other advice was good. This could be misunderstood: Buy an apartment if you have aspirations like dogs, cats, chinchilla, kids? Even a Siberian hamster in the basement can cause accusations of encouraging vermin. I would really question that. Renting apartments is good in those circumstances. You can prepare for a house purchase and then make an escape. Neighbours can be brutal or angels. Unfortunately I am not the lucky type. Stick to houses. Apartments can be a life sentence. It appears that houses are easy to get out of.
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Old 15.03.2021, 14:07
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

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We've been on the market for 2 years now, and what was in the past a comfortable budget for the north of canton Vaud, is now basically on the edge. Prices just in the last 12 month have increased with at least 10% for the same type of property. We have noticed that more and more people are moving from the "big" city into the country side, pushing up prices.
With working from home now more of the norm, you can buy a monster property in Switzerland, cash, for the deposit you are talking about on some of these places in high demand locations. It won't be modernised, no central heating but a great fire, 1 plug socket per floor, no mortgage, no stress over your next contract renewal, space, freedom, the most beautiful surroundings for pets, cycling, horse riding, motorcycling, whatever. For 2/3 days a week at work in the office you could even stay in a hotel with the savings. People are seriously rethinking about the need to live near their work, especially as employers can come and go these days.
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Old 15.03.2021, 14:29
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

Exactly - Covid has changed people's perception on this.

The commute to Lausanne from here is 55 mins, providing you travel outside peak times for frontaliers- or 45 mins anytime to Neuchâtel. Tons of space, land, no direct neighbours, animals, horses welcome- small classes in schools, France next door and amazing countryside and facilities, etc, etc. Why pay 4 to 10 times the price to be packed like sardines in the fog. bliss.
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Old 15.03.2021, 15:13
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

Hello thank you so much for your response! Yes we have also considered your 5th option and may be the road we take if we don’t get something this year.
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Old 15.03.2021, 15:24
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

I've mentioned it on another post but don't just rely on agencies & home gate et al - drive around the villages you've identified and look for owners selling their house directly. They often put a small sign up with their mobile number. Around us this is very common and as others have said you just need a lot of perseverance & tenacity! Good luck!
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Old 15.03.2021, 15:53
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

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Exactly - Covid has changed people's perception on this.
This looks to be turning into one of those 'Ja, aber...' things.

Before investing in a property in the boondocks, perhaps it might be wise to watch how employers, and employment law, view WFH once the pandemic dust settles.

All sorts of issues around offsite work are cropping up, from pay rates to payroll taxes to compliance, und und und.

At present it's anybody's guess about the direction companies might take. It would be wise to take the pulse of yours before you jump.

Sure, buying a goat shed up on the top of a mountain for the interim looks like a good bet, an idea seemingly shared by a large chunk of the urban population, which seems to have played a part in fueling much of the price rise in small villages off the beaten track.

But throwing all your eggs into the (likely overheated) boondocks basket entails some risk that should be acknowledged and priced in, should the above issues sway companies away from a WFH model.

JMHO. I could well be wrong.
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Old 15.03.2021, 16:01
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

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...drive around the villages you've identified and look for owners selling their house directly. They often put a small sign up with their mobile number. Around us this is very common and as others have said you just need a lot of perseverance & tenacity! Good luck!
This. Works much better, than any agent from my experience.

Also, if you like the property and the asked price looks about right, then a nice yet persistent attitude "shut up and take my money" works almost with everyone. Don't waste time for talks about papers (unless you are willing to become an expert in the local property market laws and customs), just get all the documents from the seller and the authorities to have them checked and explained to you by your or independent legal advisor.
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Old 15.03.2021, 16:06
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

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Why pay 4 to 10 times the price to be packed like sardines in the fog. bliss.
I agree with the factor 4 to 10, just didn't think I would be credible if I said that!

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Hello thank you so much for your response! Yes we have also considered your 5th option and may be the road we take if we don’t get something this year.
If you mean buying abroad, then you need to go to former East Germany to get property as cheap as some parts of Switzerland. With that comes tax and border closure risks.
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Old 15.03.2021, 17:03
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

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Your other advice was good. This could be misunderstood: Buy an apartment if you have aspirations like dogs, cats, chinchilla, kids? Even a Siberian hamster in the basement can cause accusations of encouraging vermin. I would really question that. Renting apartments is good in those circumstances. You can prepare for a house purchase and then make an escape. Neighbours can be brutal or angels. Unfortunately I am not the lucky type. Stick to houses. Apartments can be a life sentence. It appears that houses are easy to get out of.
This is true however I can tell you that I know of at least two houses sold in the last years in my hometown Horgen that only went to families. They had higher bidders but they chose the family (and were never published on Homegate et al). So if you only look at houses as a couple that could be one of the reasons why you never get into the second/final round.
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Old 15.03.2021, 18:54
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

Perhaps difficult for many to realise that until very recently, in Switzerland, only 'rich' people owned houses, all individual and architect design. Middle classes only owned after renting for many many years- often just when the children were ready to leave home! Again, not bought 'off the beg' but very carefully architect design to their very specific taste and design. And people were very very attached to those special houses.

Unlike in the UK for instance, where the vast majortiy buy from a developper, on an estate- 2 up 2 down, then moved to terrassed, then to 3 bed semi, and later to 4 bed detached for some, and more ... for others. So houses never have quite the same strong personal touch or tie. And until recently, in CH, the idea of buying a PPE flat was just unheard of- people would have laughed very loud at the idea.

But even in the UK some larger individual houses also had this strong 'family house' emotional feel. The last one we bought was like that, built in 1920 by a famous rose grower. We were the 4th family to own it. The people we bought it from could not stand the several people who had made offers, higher than ours. After visiting it, we realised we could not afford the price, so we dropped it. Met the daughter 2 weeks later in Waitrose and she asked 'why have you not been in touch with my parents, they realy want to sell to you. So we explained and she said 'get in touch asap and come for coffee and your max possible offer'. We did- and they sold us the house, much to the dismay of the Estate Agent. We then sold our house the first week-end- and it was all done and dusted in weeks. How we loved that house for 30+ years.

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Old 15.03.2021, 19:34
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Re: Difficulty in buying a property

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I've mentioned it on another post but don't just rely on agencies & home gate et al - drive around the villages you've identified and look for owners selling their house directly. They often put a small sign up with their mobile number. Around us this is very common and as others have said you just need a lot of perseverance & tenacity! Good luck!
Yes, this. Do all the research on the areas in which you are interested, long before you actually spot a property.

Have a look at public transport, traffic and congestion in a commute to city and schools, shops, sports facilities, factors such as the flow of water (streams, inclines, retaining walls, drainage, potential for damp or flooding), sources of noise (factories, trains, sports facilities, bars), planned new construction in the area, zoning, the general atmosphere at various times of the day, and the quality of the buildings in the area and to what extent they are being preserved or replaced.

Once you've already done this for several areas, you'll get better at it, and faster. This kind of preparedness will enable you to put in an offer quickly, once you do manage to get your foot in the door.
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