Bern sells off border homes at bargain prices

In Switzerland this looks like a steal of a deal: a three-level house divided into three spacious apartments close to cross-country skiing and hiking trails for just 450,000 francs ($464,000).

Bern sells off border homes at bargain prices
Former residence for border guards up for sale in L'Auberson. Photo: RTS/Screenshot

But so far the home, a former customs building in L’Auberson on the French border with the canton of Vaud, has yet to sell, even though the price has been cut from an initially proposed 650,000 francs.

It turns out to be one of 113 buildings formerly used by the Swiss Customs Administration that are being put on the market between now and 2021.

They are regarded as surplus buildings since Switzerland became part of the Schengen zone, scrapping passport controls at its borders with neighbouring European countries several years ago, following a 2005 referendum.

While some buildings, such as one housing three apartments at the Champéry ski resort village in the canton of Valais, have been snapped up (the Champéry building was estimated at 1.2 million francs but sold for less) others have been a harder sell, broadcaster RTS reports.

L’Auberson is about an hour’s drive north of Lausanne amid the scenic Jura Mountains, but it is relatively remote, as are dozens of other surplus customs buildings that are proving difficult to find buyers, the TV documentary programme Mise au Point reported on Sunday.

The Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics (FOBL), based in the Bern suburbs, began selling the buildings, used to house border guard employees, in 2011.

The office manages 2,700 government buildings, including the federal parliament building in Bern.

And each year it sells a dozen buildings that are no longer needed, including former customs buildings, as well as such structures as a drinks stand at the summit of a mountain or a beautiful mansion on the shores of a lake, Mise au Point reported.

Prices range from 100,000 francs to two million francs.

For more information, contact the FOBL via the office’s website.  

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