There comes a time when everyone wants to feel at home. And sometimes, that simply means actually owning your own home.
But whether you're an expat who has settled permanently in Zürich or you're hoping to secure a holiday home in the Alps, the process of getting a mortgage in Switzerland can be much more complicated for foreigners.
“The rules are pretty strict here,” says Nigel Eyles, an Englishman who has lived in Switzerland for much of his life and co-owns the Fribourg franchise of MoneyPark AG, Switzerland's largest mortgage broker.
For starters, make sure you have a residence permit that allows you to buy a home.
“Not everyone has the right kind of permit. Usually people who buy have at least a B permit, which are usually arranged by your company, or a C permit if you've been here longer," he says.
In addition, Swiss rules and regulations differ from those in other countries, so it makes sense to seek advice to avoid any surprises.
“In the UK at one point, certain buyers could get 100 percent financing,” Eyles explains. “I don't know how things work in the US after 2008, but in Switzerland the maximum lending rate is 80 percent and the maximum lending time is 15 years.“
The remaining 20 percent, he says, has to be put down up front.
“And new rules require that no more than 10 percent of the down payment can be drawn from a retirement fund,” he adds.
"Of course, many people moving here have sold their homes in their former countries, so they have that initial 20 percent anyway. If not, some banks are willing to negotiate this point, but that means paying that ten to 20 percent back over a short period of time."
But the process is rather straightforward.
“It's hard to make a mistake,” Eyles remarks. “All banks and insurance companies require the same basic information and we at MoneyPark accompany the client throughout the process.”
Anyone seeking a new mortgage or looking at refinancing in the Swiss housing market should consider starting the process with a broker.
“The main difference between a broker like MoneyPark and working directly with a large bank is the neutral advice,” says Eyles.
“A bank will try to sell their own products. A broker can see the whole market and be sure to get the best service and rates available.”
It's also useful to have experts in your corner who can offer advice on tax advantages that may not be known to many expats.
Following an initial meeting with MoneyPark, which has 23 locations across the country, it usually only takes about a month until everything is done and dusted.
“We ask people to send us a few documents ahead of the first meeting and then we do a free evaluation of the property and verify the client's personal situation" he explains.
“We then guide the client step by step and work together to decide which mortgage and insurance partners to approach for an offer. The second meeting is all about discussing and making a decision from the offers we've received.”
Perhaps the biggest advantage of working with a broker like MoneyPark is the time and hassle saved in researching, evaluating, and understanding the entire process.
“If you want to do all the shopping yourself, negotiate and take the time to meet with every single bank and insurance company then we're probably not for you,” Eyles explains.
“But we work with more than 70 partners so there's plenty of choice. The main reason people come to MoneyPark is for getting the best deal quickly and with ease.
Contact Nigel at MoneyPark Fribourg for help with your Swiss mortgage: