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Old 13.07.2007, 00:02
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Holiday Flat in Montreux area

Hello, everyone,

I have searched through several threads regarding the purchase of a holiday flat by a foreigner, and found a lot of useful information. I was hoping to enlist the assistance of the community for some specific feedback.

We are U.S. citizens and contemplating buying a vacation flat in Canton Vaud in the Montreux area (more details as to why are in my profile). Based on my preliminary research, there seem to be a number of "new build" opportunities in the area between Vevey - Montreux - Veytaux - Villeneuve that could be suitable for us. We do not intend to let the flat out, we would only use it personally or allow family / relatives and select friends stay there on their holidays. We have no intent to resell the property - I would much rather it stay in the family, preferably for generations to come (if I were forced to sell, it would mean there has been some pretty catastrophic change in our family's circumstances, at which point disposal of such a property would likely be the least of our concerns...)

With all the details to be worked out, I am coming to the conclusion that such an endeavor would be best achieved through the use of engaging a local agent or lawyer in Montreux to deal with day-to-day details of the purchase / registration / permit approval process, then take care of other aspects (physically signing documents, etc.) during some personal visits. I have noted that there are specialty relocation companies that handle almost exactly these types of tasks (i.e. identify suitable properties, negotiate with the seller on your behalf, translate / file necessary paperwork on your behalf, help arrange financing if needed, help take care of getting basic utilities like phone / TV / electricity connected, etc.) - but they are geared to working with big multi-nationals like Nestle who are moving managerial staff around rather than with individuals like me.

Would any forum members have any feedback / recommendations about a: a) buyers real estate agent; or b) lawyer; or c) relocation agency they may have worked with either in Canton Vaud or elsewhere but has an office there that would be willing to work in such a capacity to facilitate the purchase of a vacation flat by a foreigner?

Even though I'm currently looking at new build projects in the Montreux area, I'm loathe to work only with the builder or builder's agent - they will be looking out for their client's interests, not mine. I figure engaging / hiring someone there locally to serve this function helps better protect our interests in the process.

I've gotten some names from Google, but that only gets you so far, and can't substitute for a good recommendation...

Thanks for any and all assistance.
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Old 13.07.2007, 16:36
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Re: Holiday Flat in Montreux area

Firstly, I can give you the name of an English speaking lawyer in Montreux who has done satisfactory work for me. Iíll PM the details to you. I canít recommend an agent as Iíve had no experience but Iím sure this lawyer will be well aware of the local situation. You will also find a lot of information on this site. I donít know this company but they may possibly be of interest.

Holiday homes, when they are not made available for rent by the owner, are causing problems especially in the ski resorts. See these two articles:- article 1, article 2.

The law restricts the acquisition of property in Switzerland by foreigners, by foreign-based companies or by Swiss-based companies controlled by foreigners. As a rule, they need an authorisation from the competent cantonal authority. This is only granted if conditions set out in federal and cantonal legislation are met. An authorisation to purchase a holiday home may be granted under certain circumstances to a person living abroad. Property ownership in Switzerland does not entitle a foreign person to a residence permit.

Nationals of the European Union or of the European Free Trade Association zone living in Switzerland with a residence permit, other foreigners entitled to settle here and Swiss-based companies controlled by anyone with the appropriate resident or settlement status do not require an authorisation.
Montreux is an area where foreigners can purchase property but Iím not sure that this extends to Vevey or Veytaux. If you find a property advertised it usually says if it can be purchased by a foreigner.

There is a government proposal to change the law (see this) but I think that it would be very likely to go to a referendum and an opinion poll last week showed that only 15% of people would support such a move. I think that people in Swiss Romande are well aware of the problems caused in France by foreign owned holiday homes and they donít want to see the same situation developing here.

Iíve not heard that holiday homes are causing any problems in Montreux but I think that itís a situation you should be aware of for the future.
Hope this helps.
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Old 13.07.2007, 17:09
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Re: Holiday Flat in Montreux area

I have purchased a holiday home in Canton Vaud near to Yverdon. The whole process was straightforward and the only problem that I encountered was that the appt was owned by a Swiss lady and I needed to get authorisation from the Commission fonciere. From what I could gather, if the appt had been owned by a foreigner the sale could be conducted without delay. I believe in the Valais certain areas have restricted sales for holiday homes. I used a fab lawyer in Lausanne and with email etc I only came over for the execution of the sale contract to sign.
I wish you success and I will give you any assistance if you need it. GOOD LUCK!
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Old 13.07.2007, 21:23
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Re: Holiday Flat in Montreux area

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I have purchased a holiday home in Canton Vaud near to Yverdon. The whole process was straightforward and the only problem that I encountered was that the appt was owned by a Swiss lady and I needed to get authorisation from the Commission fonciere. From what I could gather, if the appt had been owned by a foreigner the sale could be conducted without delay. I believe in the Valais certain areas have restricted sales for holiday homes. I used a fab lawyer in Lausanne and with email etc I only came over for the execution of the sale contract to sign.
I wish you success and I will give you any assistance if you need it. GOOD LUCK!
Bear in mind that Blugoober is from the US and not the EU so the rules would be different for him.
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Old 15.07.2007, 18:13
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Re: Holiday Flat in Montreux area

Thank you both for your comments and suggestions - I greatly appreciate it.

I think I'm pretty well up to speed with the regulatory environment, and have been looking through a lot of materials on the website of the Swiss Embassy in the U.S. as well as other resources.

I found this useful site for one of the realtors in the Montreux area, a company calle Newco, listing the communes in Canton Vaud that allow purchases by foreigners:

(http://www.newcoriviera.com/general/.../installer.htm).

I'm not sure if this is up-to-date, but that would be one of the first questions I would pose to any buyer's agent or attorney that I retain - to reconfirm this is still valid.

I've had some communications with some agencies that also handle new build opportunities in the Montreux area, specifically Furer and MK Gestion, and they seemed all too happy to help facilitate a transaction for someone in my position as a U.S. citizen. Unfortunately, my timing was off on some of the projects in 2006 they were representing and I missed on those. Those experiences, plus my concern that they were only representing the seller / construction company, have prompted me to now consider having someone there "on the ground" who can act (and quickly, if need be) to move a transaction forward and represent my interests.

Thanks again, and if you have any other tips / suggestions, I'm all ears...
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Old 16.07.2007, 17:43
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Re: Holiday Flat in Montreux area

I had the opportunity to check the current position with 3 agents in Montreux today. Authorisations for foreigners to purchase holiday homes have been stopped until 2010. If a property is already owned by a foreigner then it can be sold to another foreigner.
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