• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3
The site that will help you find your dream Swiss home

The site that will help you find your dream Swiss home

The Local · 10 Apr 2012, 16:05

Published: 10 Apr 2012 16:05 GMT+02:00

When you're looking for a home to buy or rent in a new country, the one thing you need is local knowledge. Now there's a site that will give you the knowledge you need to make the right choice - in English.

Maybe you think you have found your dream chalet in the Swiss Alps? Or the perfect apartment in downtown Zurich? But what do you do if, when you move in, you discover that most of the local residents are Swiss pensioners? Or, shock horror, that what you thought was a cosy bachelor pad is located in a building full of screaming three-year old kids whose buggies block the lift every morning.

It’s easy to find a property that might sound good on paper and which seems to tick the right boxes on a first visit. But looks can be deceptive and finding a place that fits your needs, personality and lifestyle is more difficult than you might think.

That’s where Home.ch comes into the picture. Almost two years ago, Robert de Heer discovered that many properties for rent and sale lacked decent photos and detailed information on the local environment. “Our philosophy is that consumers can’t make a decision solely based on the size of a four-room apartment, for example,” he explains. “We realized that our competitors had gotten lazy with their platform and that there was a niche for an online real estate platform that made it easier for consumers to find their dream home.”  

The concept worked. Less than two years later, Home.ch (part of a joint venture between PubliGroupe and Swisscom) is ranked number three in the highly competitive and professional Swiss market. It has proven not only a hit with locals, but is also the preferred choice for expats living in, or moving to, Switzerland. 

The key to success has been the young company’s focus on usability. “On some property sites, you need to click ten times to get a search result,” comments de Heer. “We’ve limited the number of clicks; otherwise it’s just too time-consuming!”

Curious to check if this was just a good marketing pitch, I decided to try the search myself and found it to be a very pleasant experience.  The website is simple, self-explanatory and clear. The pictures and information load quickly, a definite plus for an impatient user. 

There’s even a map on each property so you don’t need to work with Google Maps open in another browser window. And there’s a tool so you can calculate the distance from your home to work, for example. “This is particularly useful in Switzerland,” laughs de Heer. “Sometimes online tools measure distance as the crow flies but, often, there is a mountain in between which can add an extra 50 kilometres to your commute. So we base our calculation on driving time, taking account of the time needed to go around the mountain.” 

The “neighbourhood” tab is a godsend if you’re new to Switzerland and not familiar with the towns and areas. This is where you can see the gross income of the locals, where they come from and other juicy details like their age and - important, if you’re single - the male to female ratio. “This can be interesting if, for example, you’re a wealthy expat working for a big firm, then you probably want to live in an area with people who have a similar standard of living to yours; if you’re a student, you won’t want to end up living in the most expensive part of town!”

There’s also useful information like future developments planned for the area so that you won’t end up living in a demolition zone in a few months’ time. 

As a house-hunter, there’s absolutely nothing worse than finding a property that catches your eye, only to find there are no photos. “We know from experience that ads with a slideshow get more hits and longer visits,” says de Heer. “So we allow an unlimited amount of pictures to be uploaded per ad free-of-charge. In addition, for a small fee, we can make a floor plan into 3D so users can take a ‘virtual tour’ of the property.” 

De Heer moved to Switzerland from the Netherlands six years ago and never left. “I remember how difficult it was to find the right place to live,” he recalls. “I moved to Lausanne and had a budget in mind but no clue where the places were located so just looking at classifieds didn’t help. I wish there had been something like Home.ch to help me out back then with the environment.” 

Article sponsored by home.ch

 

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

Today's headlines
Foreigners in Switzerland surpass 2 million mark
International flags outside the UN in Geneva. Photo: Martial Trezzini/AFP

For the first time, there are now more than two million foreigners living in Switzerland.

Geneva runs out of permits for non-EU workers
File photo: The Local

Canton complains to the federal government after it reduced the number of permits available to third state workers.

Scorchio! Late August heat breaks record in Geneva
Lake Geneva on Thursday. Photo: The Local

The mercury in Geneva hit 33.3 degrees, a record for the final week in August.

US and Russia meet in Geneva for Syria talks
John Kerry with UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva on Thursday for a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Expert predicts major quake for Switzerland by 2040
A fireman stands in the Italian village of Amatrice, which was badly hit by this week's earthquake. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The canton of Valais is particularly at risk.

Aggressive deer put down after attacking four in Geneva
File photo: Michal Kosacky

The buck attacked four people in the same area over the course of 48 hours.

Navigation error ends badly for Basel driver

A man accidentally drove his car down a flight of steps after his passenger directed him the wrong way.

Blatter 'confident' as he faces Swiss sports court
Sepp Blatter. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Former Fifa boss Sepp Blatter is back in court on Thursday as he seeks to overturn a six-year ban from football.

Federer teams up with Nadal for new tennis tournament
Federer and Nadal at the Laver Cup launch with Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images North America/AFP

The duo will play doubles together in a new competition pitting Europe against the rest of the world in a tennis team event.

Geneva advises teachers on religion in school
File photo: C Carlstead

The secular canton of Geneva has issued guidelines for teachers on how to deal with religious issues in the classroom.

Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Photo: Starship
Technology
Swiss Post trials robot parcel deliveries in Bern
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: AFP
Politics
Survey: Swiss optimistic about Brexit effect
Photo: Neil Heritage/Endeavour Fund
Features
Amputee's Matterhorn trek 'makes it more possible' for others
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Photo: EPFL
International
Switzerland tops global innovation table – again
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Photo: Vasily Cotovanu
National
Asylum centre plans shelved after Swiss village protests
Photo: The Local
Politics
Neuchâtel looks to boost rights for foreigners
Photo: AFP
Sport
In pictures: final day success takes Swiss to seven medals
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Photo: AFP
National
Experts debate rail security following Swiss train attack
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
File photo: AFP
Sport
Two basejumpers die in Lauterbrunnen accidents
Photo: AFP
International
Amnesty fears for child migrants at Italian border
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Photo: AXA Winterthur
National
Report: Geneva is Swiss capital of car theft
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP
National
Top tips for watching the meteor shower in Switzerland
File photo: Andrew Turner
Technology
Swiss start-up to offer drone service to farmers
Photo: Beat Strasser
National
British quadruple amputee summits Matterhorn
Photo: Judit Klein
National
Switzerland sees rise in child victims of forced marriage
Photo: Michael Schlick/OS Muhr
National
Swiss hiker in Austria rescued after sending SOS to America
Photo: Chris Murphy
Features
14 mistakes foreigners make on moving to Switzerland
Photo: AFP
Lifestyle
Swiss resort unveils huge ‘natural’ fresco on mountain
Photo: C Sonderegger/Swiss Tourism
National
Five great Swiss traditions all expats should try
Photo: AFP
National
Confirmed cases of Zika virus soar in Switzerland
Photo: eGuide Travel
National
Prison for woman who faked Swiss airport bomb threat
Photo: AFP
Technology
Swiss solar plane completes epic round-the-world trip
4,633
jobs available