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‘Soft landing’ seen for Swiss property market

Malcolm Curtis · 14 Apr 2014, 09:40

Published: 14 Apr 2014 09:40 GMT+02:00

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“Over the past six months the risks have diminished,” Andreas Höfert, chief economist at UBS Wealth Management, said in an interview with weekly newspaper Le Matin Dimanche.

Experts have warned for some time of the dangers of a bubble forming in the high-priced Swiss housing market, particularly in hotspots such as Geneva and Zurich.

But Höfert said he sees a soft landing given that “the Swiss National Bank and the federal government have taken measures that have calmed down the market.”

On the recommendation of the central bank, the government in January tightened controls on mortgage lending by forcing banks to hold extra capital against assets in their mortgage portfolios.

Authorities have been worried that the growth in the Swiss mortgage market has outpaced economic growth over the past five years.

But not everyone agreed to to the federal government’s directive to banks to hold more capital, including some of the banks themselves.

Beyond the real estate market, Höfert told Le Matin Dimanche the Swiss economy faces geopolitical risks, in the short term from the uncertainties created by the crisis in Ukraine.

That crisis has already put upward pressure on the Swiss franc.

On a macroeconomic level, the situation in the European Union always poses a risk to the Swiss economy.

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But “we are in a process of recovery in Europe, which should support (Swiss) exports,” he said.

“And that comes on top of solid internal growth.”

With regard to the February 9th vote by Swiss citizens in favour of immigration quotas, Höfert said he did not believe this would have any economic impact in the short term.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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