Fewer foreigners buy Swiss holiday homes

Fewer foreigners are buying apartments in Switzerland as secondary residences, according to new federal government figures.

Fewer foreigners buy Swiss holiday homes
Photo: Mirko Grifoni

The number of holiday apartments acquired by non-Swiss in 2013 dropped to 796 in 2013, the federal office of justice reported.

This is less than half the 1,832 Swiss apartments purchased by foreigners in 2007, the office’s figures show.

The Swiss federal act on acquisition of real estate by persons abroad, popularly known as the Lex Koller, restricts foreigners from buying property in Switzerland.

But there are exceptions in 17 cantons, where it is possible to acquire a holiday home with the right approvals.

The cantons of Valais, Ticino, Vaud, Graubünden and Bern have recently approved the most agreements to purchase secondary homes by foreigners, the ATS news agency said, citing a report from NZZ am Sonntag. 

However, experts contacted by the newspaper say the initiative approved by Swiss voters in March 2012 to restrict holiday homes in mountain areas may be one of the reasons for the slowdown in 2013.

The initiative, launched by environmentalist Franz Weber, aims to protect ecologically sensitive areas by limiting the percentage of secondary residences in municipalities to 20 percent of residential properties.

Communities that already exceed this limit are not allowed to build more holiday homes.

In 2013, Germans bought almost a quarter of the apartments acquired by foreigners as second homes, followed by the British and Belgians, the ATS agency said.

The federal government has fixed the maximum number of secondary residences that can bought by non-Swiss at 1,500, through cantonal approvals.

This amount can change because cantons who do not use their quota for one year can defer authorizations until the following year. 

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