Set your own rent would-be tenants urged

Three bijou apartments with pool and fitness centre in Lucens are up for grabs to people willing to set their own rent.

Set your own rent would-be tenants urged
A pool and fitness centre are thrown in. Photo: Facebook

An estate agent in the canton of Vaud, Roland Morisod, hit on the novel idea of holding an auction for the vacant rental properties, with the price ceiling set at 2,482 Swiss francs.

The auction over an internet site will be held on Friday, Le Matin reported.

The 3.5-room, 83-square-metre top end properties are situated in the Residence du Chateau, at the foot of Lucens’ historical castle.

“It’s a test. I am saying to people ‘tell me what you are willing to pay’,” said Morisod, explaining that he wanted to cause a bit of a stir and see what happened.

Morisod said rental prices were “crazy” in some places and he wanted to change that.

He had decided to try an approach already common in the United States – the reverse auction.

“As the current rent is the highest price possible, future tenants will not have to pay more,” he said.

Morisod believes renters could even end up saving several hundred francs on the current rental price.

The estate agent hopes the auction will encourage people to apply who would normally be scared to ask the price, and thinks it could result in a greater social mix among residents.

He denied charitable aims, saying he was “no Robin Hood” but that he hoped others might follow his example.

A property expert, Francois Hiltbrand, told Le Matin the properties in question had been advertised at too high a rent, resulting in a lack of interest from renters.

He said auctions were not likely to catch on.

General secretary of the Vaud branch of the Swiss tenants’ association asloca, Anne Baehler Bech, said she was surprised and shocked by Morisod’s action.

“The amount of rent should be determined by the owner’s costs and tenancy law,” she said. “It is not a lottery.”

More details are available on the auction’s website.

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Where to find property in Switzerland for under CHF 500k

Switzerland is not known for being a cheap country and property prices are higher than in other European countries, but it's still possible to find property bargains, some for even under CHF 100k.

Where to find property in Switzerland for under CHF 500k

Property prices are rising in much of Europe and Switzerland is no exception. As the average salary is high in Switzerland, finding homes for under CHF 1 million in some parts of the country becomes almost impossible.

Even when you do find cheap properties, they are sometimes quite literally too good to be true. For example, Switzerland’s famous one-franc home scheme had to be scrapped after nobody signed up. The cheap homes were, actually, too expensive when considering the costs for renovation or even how remote they were.

READ ALSO: Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

Some of the properties in the scheme weren’t connected to the electricity grid, sewer system or even roads.

So, where can we find cheap(er) homes in Switzerland – that are still liveable or could be excellent investments for those who enjoy fixer-uppers (or huge DIY projects)?

Not an easy search

To find these gems, we used a property website that allowed us to search for real estate in the whole of Switzerland (instead of just a few main cities) and showed us homes with at least three rooms.

The price limit was set at CHF 500,000 (while our colleagues in Germany had theirs set at €100k, but, hey, this is Switzerland).

As of August 2022, we found 203 houses and 80 apartments following these criteria on sale.

Most of these definitely need some fixing up, but you can still snatch a home for under CHF 500,000 with lovely views of lakes and mountains or big terraces and gardens.

Going through the addresses with some of the properties, some things stand out:

Head for the border – most of the most affordable places are in Italian-speaking Switzerland. However, you can also find some of them in the French regions. In both cases, they are located very near the border with France or Italy.

Forget about cities – All the properties we found are quite far from the major cities of Zürich, Bern, and Geneva, which makes sense as the cost of living tends to rise in those regions. If you’re looking for a cheap home, you’re highly unlikely to find one in city centres.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?

Consider property type – It is also worth mentioning that there seemed to be a distinction between the homes in the west and those in the south. In the French region, there are more apartments and newer properties, with some outstanding options.

While in the Italian south, most of the properties are houses – and you need to inspect well because some will need a lot of work.

Research services – You should definitely check carefully the property’s location – some are not connected to basic services or even roads.

Renovation costs – Almost all of the properties we found were ‘renovation projects’. Some can turn out to be very good investments, but it takes time and work to renovate. Before buying, get an estimate of the likely works so you can see whether the property really will save you money in the long term, and be honest about your level of DIY/building skills and how much work you are willing or able to do.

Extra costs – Besides renovating costs, you must be mindful of property taxes and other living costs and how much they are in the region where you are buying property. Prices can vary quite widely depending on the canton, so research well.

You can check all our Property in Switzerland stories here.