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Old 27.03.2007, 19:33
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Sell or Rent my new home in LA? Housing in Bern

I've just finished building a home I could not afford to buy myself. I love the place and the location is good too. If I take a corporate transfer to CH, do I have to sell my home? I'd like to avoid selling it mostly because I expect my assignment to be about 2yrs and Im afraid I'll be priced out of the market when I return. Any ideas?

I'd like to rent the place to friends that won't destroy the place and give them a good deal on the rent to keep them interested in living there. This could help with forwarding mail, and maintaining a US residence for our return. Any other ideas about this also?

Lastly, what should I expect to pay for a large (2000-3000sqft) home outside of Bern or somewhere between Neuchatel and Bern? I have a large family and I want to know what to expect.

Thanks
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Old 27.03.2007, 19:40
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Re: Sell or Rent my new home in LA? Housing in Bern

Have a look at www.comparis.ch or www.homegate.ch to get a feel for price. Prices can vary wildly by Gemeinde, but you can also find some real bargains if you live out in the sticks.

P
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Old 27.03.2007, 19:50
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Re: Sell or Rent my new home in LA? Housing in Bern

If you're only coming for 2 years, you need to make a bet on the US real estate market. Depending where you are in the LA area, your area might be protected more from a downturn than other areas. If you have a friend in real estate, you might talk to them to get more info. Some people see a significant downturn coming in the US property market (in fact, it's already there in many places). How much and how long are the unknowns obviously.

If you have some friends who can rent your place and give you enough to cover your mortgage and property taxes, then this is probably the way to go if your employer is guaranteeing that you'll return to LA. Giving them a break on rent to do normal maintenance, etc. can work out well for both sides, too.

If there's a greater than 50% chance that you'll not return to LA or not return withing 2-3 years, I would look into selling provided you won't take a hit on the sale. We held on to our house in the US for about 4 years or so after moving here. Granted it was an older house and we didn't know our renters so it wasn't cared for in the way it needed to be, but we found it was too much of a hassle to deal with from Switzerland.

It's a good idea to keep a US mailing address and keep 1 credit card at that address (we use a family member's address). Some websites only take credit cards with US addresses so this helps. Most likely, you can sign up for statements by email so you won't need to worry about your friends charging a new LCD TV on your credit card.

If this remains your current home with your friends forwarding mail, then this could be a nice service. However, you'll want to have most of your bills/subscriptions changed to your Swiss address rather than having them forwarded since the cost will get to be too much.

One tip re magazine subscriptions...extend them at US rates while you're still there. Most companies will honor the original subscription period after you move rather than charging you a higher international rate.

As for renting in Switzerland, www.homegate.ch is very good, at least in the Zurich area. I understand it's pretty comprehensive for the whole country, too. Make sure you click the English link. House/flat sizes will be given in square meters (about 10.5 sq ft to 1 sq mt).
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Old 28.03.2007, 02:03
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Re: Sell or Rent my new home in LA? Housing in Bern

You should probably talk to a good tax advisor on the issue too--if you have been in the home less than two years, which it sounds like you have, you might get hit with capital gains tax if you sell. Maintaining a residence in the U.S. may have an effect on your Swiss taxes, as well.
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Old 28.03.2007, 09:38
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Re: Sell or Rent my new home in LA? Housing in Bern

Yes, owning a home would affect your Swiss taxes some since there is a "wealth tax" on assets. I assume you're getting tax equalization and tax return preparation as part of your relo package as well? If not, you might want to discuss this with your employer. Depending where you are though, your tax bill might be less here.
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Old 28.03.2007, 17:06
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Re: Sell or Rent my new home in LA? Housing in Bern

Quote:
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Have a look at www.comparis.ch or www.homegate.ch to get a feel for price. Prices can vary wildly by Gemeinde, but you can also find some real bargains if you live out in the sticks.

P
Any recommendations for where to live "in the sticks" around Neuchatel? I went to these web sites and the city names don't help. I need a good regional map around Neuchatel...can I get that here? Thanks.
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Old 28.03.2007, 17:10
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Re: Sell or Rent my new home in LA? Housing in Bern

Try this and zoom in as necessary...

http://map.search.ch/
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