• Switzerland's news in English
 

The site that will help you find your dream Swiss home

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
 HSBC boss backs Swiss account as profits slip
HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver. Photo: AFP

HSBC boss backs Swiss account as profits slip

HSBC's boss on Monday fended off criticism about receiving his bonuses through a Swiss bank account held by a Panamanian-registered company, as the banking giant reported a 15-percent drop in annual net profits. READ  

Fire destroys Valais discotheque and bar
Photo: Valais cantonal police

Fire destroys Valais discotheque and bar

An investigation is under way into the cause of a fire on Sunday night that destroyed a discotheque, bar and woodworking shop in Collombey-Muraz, a municipality of around 8,000 people in the canton of Valais. READ  

Federer caught up in bitter cricket rivalry
Federer holding up India cricket shirt. Photo: Roger Federer/Facebook

Federer caught up in bitter cricket rivalry

Swiss tennis star Roger Federer has apologized for getting caught up in the bitter rivalry between Indian and Pakistani cricket fans after he was pictured admiring the blue shirt of World Cup champions India in a marketing photo-shoot. READ  

HSBC CEO 'kept millions in Swiss account'
Photo: AFP

HSBC CEO 'kept millions in Swiss account'

HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver, who vowed to reform the scandal-hit bank, kept millions of dollars in a Swiss account, the Guardian newspaper reported on Sunday. READ  

Same-sex marriage 'backed by most Swiss'
Photo: AFP

Same-sex marriage 'backed by most Swiss'

A majority of Swiss back gay and lesbian marriage, according to the results of surveys published on Sunday by two weeklies. READ  

Breakdowns cancel flights at Geneva airport
Photo: Geneva airport

Breakdowns cancel flights at Geneva airport

The Geneva airport struggled to return to normal operations on Sunday, a day after equipment failures, two fires and snow forced the cancellation of 35 flights and the rerouting of 22 others. READ  

Avalanche kills four skiers in Valais Alps
The avalanche buried five people. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Avalanche kills four skiers in Valais Alps

The death toll from an avalanche that swept away a group of Italian skiers in the Swiss Alps has risen to four after a man died from his injuries, police said on Sunday. READ  

Burkhalter: anti-terror measures a 'priority'
Burkhalter and John Kerry at a meeting last year. Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Burkhalter: anti-terror measures a 'priority'

Combating violent extremism is a “priority” in Switzerland, Swiss foreign minister and former president Didier Burkhalter has said, telling a counter-terrorism summit in Washington this week that Switzerland has measures in place to prevent the radicalization of youth and the financing of terrorism. READ  

Lausanne man gets 14 years for strangling wife
The trial took place in Yverdon. Photo: Sjaak Kempe

Lausanne man gets 14 years for strangling wife

A Swiss court on Friday sentenced a civil servant from Assens near Lausanne in the canton of Vaud to 14 years in prison for strangling his wife to death at their home and burying her body in a nearby forest. READ  

Updated: several injured in train collision
The accident happened at 6.45am on Friday. Photo: Michael Buholzer/AFP

Updated: several injured in train collision

Two trains slammed into each other in the Swiss town of Rafz north of Zurich early on Friday, leaving passengers injured and train carriages upturned, police and media said. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
New study finds Switzerland is world's best place to retire
National
Army official calls for Swiss women to undergo military training
National
New Swiss health campaign combats smoking as 'norm' for too many
National
Swiss federal government unveils EU immigration quotas bill
Sponsored Article
Avoid the costs of wild Swiss currency swings
Business & Money
HSBC Swiss private bank revelations 'tip of iceberg': whistleblower
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
National
Phil Collins' paralyzed ex-wife files lawsuit after Swiss complications
Culture
Gauguin on display in Basel touted as 'most costly painting ever'
Business & Money
Swiss Leaks: HSBC Swiss private bank 'catered to terrorists and crooks'
International
What's keeping British expats in Europe from voting in UK elections?
Business & Money
Trade balance bulges as Switzerland smashes record for exports in 2015
National
Swiss town's ploy against workers living in Italy 'not racist'
National
Architects propose skyscrapers for new Geneva 'urban centre'
Culture
Renowned Israeli conductor dies during symphony in Lucerne
International
Population of Swiss citizens abroad continues to expand
National
Vaud property salesman jailed over costly gambling addiction
National
Right-wing group seeks citizens' vote for national face veil ban
Health
Swiss doctors 'worst' for leaving foreign objects in patients
Features
Anglophone expats in Switzerland mine creativity to earn crust
National
Number of 'immigrants' swells to third of Swiss population: report
International
Pricey Switzerland tops latest global cost of living study
National
Swiss travel agents and retailers cut prices after franc surge
Technology
Solar Impulse team unveils round-the-world route for its plane
Business & Money
Swiss central bank's shock move to let franc rise sparks debate
National
Markets panic as Swiss National Bank scraps euro rate cap
National
VIDEO: Swiss soldiers publish pictures of antics on internet
National
A portrait of modern Switzerland in ten stats
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Features
Geneva-based expat pens seismic novel about Haitian homeland
Features
Tons of explosives finally removed from hundreds of Swiss sites
International
'Don't succumb to fear': Swiss President Sommaruga on terrorism
Sport
Federer claims historic 1,000th win at Brisbane tennis tournament
National
Swiss newspapers condemn deadly Charlie Hebdo terror attack
Business & Money
Hackers steal client information from Geneva cantonal bank
National
Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris sparks Swiss rallies
National
Pop star Madonna leaves her mark during Swiss mountain holiday
National
Disassembled Solar Impulse heads to Emirates in jumbo jet
National
US ambassador in Bern sparks flap over Swiss ski lift line 'chaos'
National
New President Sommaruga lauds 'bold' Swiss democracy
National
Hopes fade of finding missing Scottish researcher still alive
National
Scientists in Lausanne and Belgium step up search for alien life
National
Nude 'selfie' mayor heads Switzerland's top ten scandal list
Features
The Local's top ten snow sport alternatives to skiing in Switzerland
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

1,483
jobs available