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Old 25.02.2017, 14:16
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Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

Hey there, my family and I are moving to Zürich in July,
We've seen an apartment but are wondering if we are allowed to buy without being residents? My wife has a signed work contract. I'll call banks etc. next week but wondered if anyone has gone through the same process.
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Old 25.02.2017, 14:53
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

This page "Buying a house or apartment in Switzerland as a foreign national" on the Swiss Authorities Online website (ch.ch) will help to get you started:

https://www.ch.ch/en/real-estate-foreign-national/
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Old 25.02.2017, 15:10
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

Thanks
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Old 25.02.2017, 15:30
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

Welcome to the forum and soon to Switzerland.

I really wouldn't rush into buying a property here. Most people rent. If for some reason you want to sell up within a few years you'll be hit massively for Captial Gains tax on any profit from the sale - usually around 65-70% if sold within 5 years.

Ask the estate agent if you can rent the place instead as that's often the case here.
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Old 25.02.2017, 15:31
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Seems like a catch 22, you can't buy a property unless you have a residency permit, but you can't get a residency permit unless you have an address. So we'd have to rent something for a couple of months?

Thanks again. Food for thought. We do plan on staying for 10 years. Can't stand the thought of paying somebody else's mortgage!

Last edited by 3Wishes; 25.02.2017 at 18:01. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 25.02.2017, 15:40
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

The only problem with buying is BewG law. Swiss don't like foreigners buying out the land here.

But for a EU citizen it's not too big of a problem. You can first move here into a short term rental, register, then you can buy anything you want, you will not be subject to BewG as a resident EU citizen. Rent cost for a month or two is nothing compared to what you'll pay to buy.

BewG also allows buying a single house or apartment unit for making it your primary residence. If you have a right to become a resident and commit to moving into the apartment shortly after buying it, it should also be possible to buy it right away. They'll probably be a bit fussy about it and make you sign some papers to that effect.
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Old 25.02.2017, 15:41
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

you have to be resident to buy residential property
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Old 25.02.2017, 15:45
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

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you have to be resident to buy residential property
Usually yes, but there are exceptions to that rule
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Old 25.02.2017, 16:14
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

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Can't stand the thought of paying somebody else's mortgage!
Profit margin on rents isn't so big, maybe a third or so, more in top end. However for short term renting you can find amazing deals, often below normal self cost when the landlord is desperate to fill a gap for some reason (usually demolition or other works). Keyword to search for is "befristet".

The rest is in capital gains - and to have a good gain there you need to pay a big attention that the buy price is right. And then the growth is slowing down recently, so past performance is not indicative of the future.
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Old 25.02.2017, 16:22
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

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Seems like a catch 22, you can't buy a property unless you have a residency permit, but you can't get a residency permit unless you have an address. So we'd have to rent something for a couple of months?
address =/= residency

An address ensures that your mail is deliverable, nothing more. As long as that's the case you could be living under a bridge.

There's nothing wrong with changing address multiple times in a short period (though the people working for the government would certainly like to be informed in advance if that were to apply to you).
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Old 25.02.2017, 16:28
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

Thanks everyone, useful stuff
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Old 25.02.2017, 16:54
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

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Thanks again. Food for thought. We do plan on staying for 10 years. Can't stand the thought of paying somebody else's mortgage!
That is not actually a good enough reason to buy a property IMO!

It takes 5-10 years to even know a market in an area. If you have friends that can recommend what to do, I would listen closely. Buying blind in place with a lot of up front cost and capital gains tax means it is a not nearly as fluid a market for property as other western countries.

Unless you are simply just quite wealthy in which case enjoy painting your walls something other than white!
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Old 25.02.2017, 16:57
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

I like white
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Old 25.02.2017, 17:44
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

You may plan on staying here 10 years, but obviously things can change - both on the personal side and officialdom.

Currently the Swiss government is considering changing the rules for getting and keeping any Swiss permit. They're aiming to encourage more integration from foreigners so permits might become renewable every year and could be downgraded or even revoked if they decide you're not integrated enough.

Integration, might apply also to 'C' permit holders

I assume that as you're living in Germany the language integration wouldn't be a problem, but there may be other requirements too. It's all in the discussion stage at the moment, but again something to be aware of before you commit to buying a property here.

Honestly I would look to rent for a year or possibly two to make sure a) you like the area you're in and b) to give you a chance to see what's out there that you can afford. Given that the house buying market can be slow here you don't want to rush into buying a place then find you don't like it as much as you thought you would and want to move someplace else.

Also, to buy here you'll need at least 20% deposit and I doubt, unless you're probably wealthy enough to buy outright, that any bank will give you a mortgage straightaway. The other thing to be aware of here is that mortgages are rarely paid off, the tax advantages you get from keeping the mortgage going often outweigh getting rid of it.
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Old 25.02.2017, 22:48
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

Good stuff, thanks. I have learnt German and seem to get by ok and do try to integrate, but I do agree that renting would be a wise solution, particularly in light of the new permit discussions. I assume then that we need history / track record to get a mortgage?
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Old 25.02.2017, 23:35
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Re: Hi, moving to Zürich in July and want to buy an apartment.

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Good stuff, thanks. I have learnt German and seem to get by ok and do try to integrate, but I do agree that renting would be a wise solution, particularly in light of the new permit discussions. I assume then that we need history / track record to get a mortgage?


Not necessarily.
But it certainly helps. Banks might want to see income-statements a few months/years back if you have not been their customer for a while.

What will happen, though, is that the bank, which in theory could lend you up to 80% of the value (not the price) of the property, will just lend you the amount it thinks it can quickly recover should you decide to go bankrupt or pack up and leave them the keys. This is usually less than 80%, sometimes a lot less.
The rest, you've got to cough up yourself, from all kinds of savings.

AFAIK, on the high-end (property above 2m, I'd say), some bargains can be made currently, because few people are buying. Especially if the location is only so-so or the building is a "special snowflake" that looks cool in a magazine but is crap to live in (and in dire need of a full make-over because it was built by a famous architect in the 60s, when oil was cheap and only marginally overhauled since then etc.pp.).
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