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  #21  
Old 08.09.2006, 16:09
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

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I would certainly be interested in advice Richard. We are moving at the end of the month and will begin the house hunting process straight away. We pretty much know where we are regarding the financial side of things, but advice on possible hurdles and things to look out for would be gratefully received, as this will be our first purchase in Switzerland.

I'll post again once we have begun the process........

cheers
That house hunting is a bit of a problem here - be prepared to hunt and hunt. Took us two years to find somewhere and another 2.5 years for them to build it...
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  #22  
Old 08.09.2006, 16:26
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

I signed up to Comparis.ch about a year ago and find that site to be really useful. It's given us a good idea what's available in our chosen area/price range etc.

We're being realistic about it though, and not expecting it to happen overnight. That's OK though, we're in for the long haul, so if it takes some time, so be it.

Already got a list of places to view when we get back, really just to get the feel for what's on offer.......
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  #23  
Old 08.09.2006, 16:48
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

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Errrr ...nope.

a) I have a business which is in its infancy. I will some cash over the next couple years when the big expansion comes, and may need premises far from here.

b) I fully intend staying here long term, but many people I know have just been made redundant (and spent 9 months looking for a job), so I am not confident that I will stay here if that happened.

c) my ex wife is a nutter, so the fewer visible assets I have, the better.

d) I have seen how many new apartments they are building in Opfikon, and wonder what the future holds for the value of my similar property.

e) capital gains here is low and I'd rather keep my house in London which is doing very nicely.

f) I have my own business which is doing very well but the "salary" I have chosen to pay myself is low therefore I can borrow only little.

g) I am on a yearly contract and would love to stay here long term, but the client renews year on year so I can't commit.

h) I want to remain in Langstrasse and spend all my money on fast women and booze.

i) the same as (h) but insert pet obsession (boats, aeroplanes)

j) ownership is more hassle than its worth (recent experience of haus-dispute here!)

k) you can't choose you neighbours. Bad neighbours here cost thousands.

l) I prefer to keep a balanced tax efficient liquid portfolio of diversified risk.

m) I want to punt all my cash on the Chicago Mercantile.

usw.

Dave
a) for the majority of foreigners not an issue...
b) and they pay it if you are a social case
c) rather small %age - I hope!!
d) Then you already own it...
e) so do both I did...
f) total income not salary is relevant for the lender.
g) fair but then again you have 2 years unemployment money and instantly are eligible for Swissy taxation so can save more.
h/i) fair your choice
j) and then why not read the many other mails in other threads about the many pitfalls of renting here especially getting one and getting rid of one!!!
k) also true with renting so lets live on a boat on the lake...
l) which is not excluded with a house purchase.
m) good luck:-)

Clearly you can argue all you like about not buying but the purpose of this thread was to clear away the myths and fog about buying for those who might want to and not for those who don't to justify it.
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  #24  
Old 08.09.2006, 16:50
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

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I signed up to Comparis.ch about a year ago and find that site to be really useful. It's given us a good idea what's available in our chosen area/price range etc.

We're being realistic about it though, and not expecting it to happen overnight. That's OK though, we're in for the long haul, so if it takes some time, so be it.

Already got a list of places to view when we get back, really just to get the feel for what's on offer.......
I would very strongly suggest visiting the local branch of Remax and also checking out in the places you want whats on offer on homegate.

Remax is generally very useful if you are serious as you then have the ability to see what is on offer in the areas of your choice with them and although they are an estate agent they are the largest and many of the small ones work with them.

I have said this before, comparis is a great tool but you need to be aware that they survive through the commission of the companys that they show to you ie the ones that come top!
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  #25  
Old 08.09.2006, 17:31
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

We can argue these and other scenarios until the cows come home. My objective is to make it clear that its not a straightforward or obvious decision and there are alternatives.

I have a colleague that has just bought an apartment recently and takes an almost evangelical blinkered view of property purchasing.

I was in London during the last property crash 89/90 and it was precipitated by the "can't go wrong" kind of fever that I am hearing again.

The situation here is clearly different but there is the smug feeling of many expats of being at the beginning of the house-buying wave in switzerland.

IMO in the UK people become obsessive about house prices (and feed the inflation) as for many people it is the only way that can make some serious capital gains while being employed by someone else.

Buy by all means if you want to, but realise that there are many factors that need to be balanced and its the biggest purchase most people make.

dave

Just a footnote, I will eventually buy a house here, if only because I need a garden shed. I could do so now, but choose not-to, for factor (a).
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  #26  
Old 08.09.2006, 18:21
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

We now own 2 houses here - one we live in and next door which we rent out. That way we get to choose our neighbours (aka our tenants), get a nice income from next door, and cover the 2 mortgages from that rent.
For us it's not about capital gains, it's more about minimizing living costs and in the end having something to show for the money that we do spend.
But I fully understand that this is not what everyone else would think would suit them.
I think it's all about whether you're willing to have cash tied up in housing or not, or if you need said cash as investment for something else. I also think that in other countries such as Australia, 'bricks and mortar' are seen as your security since there will be little if any real value in superannuation by the time we retire. Again, in CH, there is a much larger safety net, so the mentality of owning your house by the time you retire is not as prevalent.
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  #27  
Old 08.09.2006, 19:53
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

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Just a footnote, I will eventually buy a house here, if only because I need a garden shed. I could do so now, but choose not-to, for factor (a).
Which is of course valid, you are an exception... And just for your info and because it is funny you need to apply for planning permission for a garden shed if it weighs over so much don't ask how much no idea. Our next door neighbour had those silly little sticks in his garden for two months...
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  #28  
Old 13.10.2006, 14:00
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

I'm surprised I somehow missed this thread, what with coming up to one year in my house that I (the Bank) own(s).

The minimum cash-wise you have to put in is 5%. That's what I was told and that's what I had when we moved in - the rest was pledged pension fund as, in my opinion, taking it out, paying tax and then paying the missing chunk back in would be far from the best move for me (given low interest rates, etc).

I have a 4-level place with 5 bedrooms (across 2 levels) now.

I chose to live outside Zurich (and somehow stumbled into a tax haven )...so my commute is longer (not that much though).

Tax-wise you can escape so much more owning your place. With interest rates as they are, I am paying less than 50% more than I was for a two-bedroom apartment in Zurich.

I have a garden and a 410m2 chunk of Switzerland with my name on it.

By far the hardest thing with regards to financing is the deposit - we really did save to ensure we had the 5% (as we both managed to fritter away other ill-gotten gains quite easily ). Banks are flexible and do want high net-worth customers (yes, we're classed as that!) so they might be flexible as long as the risk to them is minimised.

Do you want to know about building your own house? In many ways, very rewarding - in some ways, it could be considered a blood sport. I had a reasonable ride but a pal moving into his new pad this week has had a nightmare....
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  #29  
Old 13.10.2006, 20:17
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

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Do you want to know about building your own house? In many ways, very rewarding - in some ways, it could be considered a blood sport. I had a reasonable ride but a pal moving into his new pad this week has had a nightmare....
Please share . . .

I did this once in Texas and swore never again . . . but have also seen some builders in Switzerland that interest me/us. Would love to hear the good, bad and ugly of your and your friend's experiences.
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  #30  
Old 13.10.2006, 22:33
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

I heard that if you take the money out of your retirement fund for the downpayment, that you have to pay that money back to that fund before you actually retire. Is that true?
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  #31  
Old 14.10.2006, 02:10
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

I spent over a year building my house and it was an absolute nightmare. We essentially bought a package deal from an agency who then built the house on the land that I bought. First, the guy really couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery (even though this was something that was his profession). Then we ended up with the cheapest sub-contractors who really made a mess of things.

The thing to remember here is that you are the Bauherr and therefore responsible for all of the building work that is being carried out. My agency man was passing on bills to me that I would dutifully pay. The estimates kept creeping up and up. Eventually I ended up in court with a gardener who tried to stick me with a bill four times greater than his original quote because this genious had signed his fraudulant time sheets.

When I went to court to protest, the court hired an independant consultant to view the work. The consultant agreed with me and said that the gardender should in fact owe me money. However, the Swiss legal system kicked in at this point and I ended up still paying the fraudulant gardener an extra 10K because paying the judge to make a decision would have cost more.

AND I HAD A PSYCHO WIFE. Now thankfully ex-wife. Which meant that I had to sell the place within a couple of years and lost money one the deal.

Ok, so my story is a little extreme (but true and I have the documents to prove it) so be warned. If you are building a house, make sure that you have enough time to spend monitoring the labourers and don't assume for a minute that anyone else will do it for you.
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  #32  
Old 14.10.2006, 09:21
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

Hi Mikey,

Sorry to read of your bad experience of building house here. We had just the opposite experience.

As previously mentioned we looked for 2½ years before finding a small development of three small houses being built be a developer. We saw the ad in the Tages-Anzeiger on a Thursday and called them. We viewed the plot on Friday and made an appointment to see the developers on Monday at their offices (so we knew that actually had and office and staff).

You cannot imagine such a low-pitched salesman - the owner's son. Basically he said two of the three houses were already reserved and that he had 50 more people to see, so if we were interested we should move quickly. There were no brochures, just the drawings that had been required to get planning permission. I took a draft contract to a lawyer, who gave me one or two tips, such as make sure the developer pays the builders and pays any 'grundstuckgewinsteuer' (tax on profit of the sale of the land) otherwise we would be responsible for paying these. However, we had no way of ensuring these were paid! So all it did was add worry.

We paid in 4 stages and that was a bit of a gamble as the developers had our money in advance for each stage. The building took 2 years from signing to getting in - and of course loads of things were still unfinished then. Like there was no garden and no mastic filler. It's little wonder Dow Chemiclas have the HQ in Horgen, Swiss houses contain miles of the stuff. Every join round all rooms and windows is sealed with silicone filler - and this was done the day we moved in.

But the whole job was done well - the months the half-built house stood drying out meant there were no cracks. We were able to plan and design the layout of the whole house, select the floor tiles, parquet, taps, door handles, basins, kitchen etc etc. This is quite a responsibility, as you have no-one but yourself to blame if it looks aweful.

We moved in 8 years ago and it was one of the best things we ever did. We have a mailing list of people to contact if we ever want to sell. What I would say is that as the Swiss generally buy a house not to ever move again, that the children can be a problem. 'New house, new baby' certainly seems to be the adage round here. If you want to avoid hordes of kids, look for a property that is 20 years old, the kids will be late teenage and moving out by then.

We would certain do it again, with the advantage of experience there are some things we would differently, but not many...

Last edited by AbFab; 14.10.2006 at 19:18.
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  #33  
Old 14.10.2006, 12:16
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

Our project was six houses and was way over-subscribed and within two weeks, all 30'000 deposits were paid up.

SwissHaus wasn't the company by any chance, Mikey?

Points to note: whilst you might be lucky enough to get the odd person speaking English, you need to be proficient in the local lingo otherwise you'll end up chasing your tail and getting shafted. Mind you, this is not always the rule as my friend has found out.

Do be prepared to project-manage and be absolutely picky and specific with everything - I have a shower on a wall that I assumed it would not be on, for example, as it was completely logical to have it on the other way - no great shakes really but do go into the detail.

Gardeners are the absolute worst people I've dealt with. Six months of mud in my new garden and only the threat of not paying for things got the bugger moving.

Best by far was the electrician - a Macedonia chap with English girlfriend mind you - and the electrical planner was also very helpful.

Most miserable t*sser award went to the tiling fella. Did his job OK, don't get me wrong - but his miserable mug will stick with me for ever
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  #34  
Old 14.10.2006, 20:08
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

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SwissHaus wasn't the company by any chance, Mikey?
No it was some outfit called MIT.

Quote:
Do be prepared to project-manage and be absolutely picky and specific with everything
I absolutely fully agree here. You have to know exactly what fixtures and fittings you want where, and be prepared to make sure that all of the building work is going as planned. We noticed that a wall had been put up in the wrong place and that the floor in one room was at the wrong level. Also we noticed that a door had been put on facing the wrong way. All of these things can be mildly irritating at best, but when you're paying a fortune for some bozo to do this for you then your blood pressure can get out of control.

My prize has to go to the Electrician who was very professional and the Italian guy that laid my tiles was an absolute genius who did a perfect job.

Again, the gardener for me was the absolute pits. He took way longer than planned. He managed to damage the garage door and some other fixtures by dropping large boulders all over the place. Then, as previously mentioned, tried to stiff me on the price.
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  #35  
Old 26.10.2006, 22:01
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purchasing a property

We are hoping to buy a flat in Zug in joint names but it is my partner who has the permit, is this OK?
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  #36  
Old 26.10.2006, 22:09
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flat fitting

Presuming? that we are allowed to buy the appartment in joint names (if not we will do it in his and I guess leave it to me in a will), it is a new appartment and we have to chose the inside bit, which from London seems daunting although I am assured that there are companies that assist you with this. Can anyone recommend one such company? or do they have any experience of this type of thing? Thanks.
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  #37  
Old 26.10.2006, 23:15
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

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I heard that if you take the money out of your retirement fund for the downpayment, that you have to pay that money back to that fund before you actually retire. Is that true?
No but...

There are four reasons you are allowed to access BVG money. One of these is in order to purchase property. If you continue to live in it or continue to own property worth more than the money used from the BVG then there is no obligation to repay that money. After all you have been taxed on it! However if you sell your property before you retire and then go and live in rented accomodation you need to repay the money.
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  #38  
Old 26.10.2006, 23:17
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Re: purchasing a property

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We are hoping to buy a flat in Zug in joint names but it is my partner who has the permit, is this OK?
yes perfectly ok but you do need to go and get a mortgage I assume. Check for that in another thread I think I once gave some tips and tricks on that one. With respect to your other question there are many companies and they are all much the same. The trick here is to maximise the discount which effectively means in your situation choosing the preferred suppliers of the builder.
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  #39  
Old 26.10.2006, 23:18
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Re: flat fitting

Quote:
Presuming? that we are allowed to buy the appartment in joint names (if not we will do it in his and I guess leave it to me in a will), it is a new appartment and we have to chose the inside bit, which from London seems daunting although I am assured that there are companies that assist you with this. Can anyone recommend one such company? or do they have any experience of this type of thing? Thanks.
Sorry I maybe was jumping to conclusions. I was assuming you are talking about tiles wall coverings and colours and the kitchen and bathroom. Is that the case?
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  #40  
Old 27.10.2006, 08:17
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Re: What to look for when buying a house in Switzerland

I just wanted to pop in and say - thanks for all the information!

We have been thinking about buying for a long time, but have never had the time to look into all the details.. This is turning out to be quite a treasure trove of information!

The one question I have never had a completely satisfactory answer to - Are there any restrictions against acquisition ofprperty by a non-EU B permit holder, if the said property is intended for self occupation???? What happens if I take another job, say in Geneva or outside CH?? Can i then rent it out or sell it ?

cheers
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