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Property in Switzerland roundup: Could foreigners be excluded from buying Swiss properties?

Stay up-to-date on the latest Swiss property news with The Local's weekly roundup.

The dream of a Swiss home may become less reaéistic for foreigners.
Will foreigners be allowed to buy homes in Switzerland? MPs are debating the issue. Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

National bank warns of real estate shock

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has issued an urgent warning of the dangers in Switzerland’s property markets.

“Mortgage lending and residential property prices have risen strongly, further increasing the vulnerability of the mortgage and real estate markets.”, SNB said.

The greatest risks lie in the residential property segment, according to SNB’s president Fritz Zurbrügg.

This finding is confirmed by a recent UBS Real Estate Bubble Index.

It shows that the most at-risk regions are parts of Vaud, Lugano, Basel, the Zurich area, as well as Zug and Lucerne.

Could foreigners be excluded from buying Swiss properties?

The law called Lex Koller, which makes it difficult for people from abroad to buy real estate in Switzerland, was first introduced in 1961 and revised (relaxed) in 1997.

However, it is now experiencing a revival of sorts, with the National Council debating tightening the legislation.

The aim is to prevent foreigners from driving up property prices in Switzerland.

The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) is spearheading the move to make Lex Koller more restrictive.

One of its MPs, Thomas Aeschi, sees immigration as the cause of rising property prices, claiming that the legislation must be tightened “because the mass immigration initiative has not been implemented”.

He was referring to Switzerland not fully implementing the anti-immigration referendum of 2014.

The number of empty rental apartments in Switzerland is falling, demand for home ownership rises

Fewer rental apartments are vacant now than a year ago due to sluggish construction activity in the third quarter of 2021, according to the Credit Suisse Real Estate Monitor study.

In addition, the Covid pandemic has been delaying the delivery of building materials.

As a result, vacancies fell by 16 percent, or 1,900 apartments.

At the same time, the demand in residential property market remains tight, partly due to the pandemic and the increased work in the home office.

Overall, property prices rose 6.6 percent in the 2nd quarter of 2021, compared to the same period of the previous year. The vacancy rate for owner-occupied homes is just under 0.5 percent.

Did you know?

Like every other country, Switzerland has its own rules pertaining to apartment rentals.

A guide published by the government outlines all you need to know to rent a flat, including such essential information as how to apply, what accessory charges you might have to pay in addition to rent, your rights and obligations as a tenant, and even how to get on with your neighbours.

Basically, every question you may have about living in a Swiss apartment is right there.

Useful links

Looking for a house or an apartment in Switzerland or just want a little more information about the property market, then check out the following links. 

EXPLAINED: The hidden costs of owning a home in Switzerland

EXPLAINED: The hidden costs of buying a home in Switzerland

Swiss daily dilemmas: Can I flush my toilet at night?

The property roundup is a weekly feature and we’d welcome any feedback or suggestions for areas it should cover. Please email us at [email protected]

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For members


REVEALED: The Swiss cities turning off their lights for weekend meteor shower

The Perseids is one of the best annual meteor showers, showing their fireballs on warm summer nights in the northern hemisphere. In Switzerland, some towns want to make the event even more special by turning off their lights.

REVEALED: The Swiss cities turning off their lights for weekend meteor shower

Every year, skywatchers get ready for the Perseid meteor shower, which in 2022 is going to peak in the early hours of Saturday, just before dawn. At its peak, it will be possible to see about 200 shooting starts per hour if the conditions are optimal.

The Perseids, as this particular meteor shower is known, are fragments of the comet Swift-Tuttle. Its small dust particles (not actual stars) burn up when they enter Earth’s atmosphere at high speed. They can be observed worldwide but are best viewed in the northern hemisphere.

READ ALSO: Five beautiful Swiss villages located near Alpine lakes

And they may be in large parts of Switzerland. Despite the full moon blocking some of the views (don’t worry, the moon should set at around 2 am), the skies should be clear of clouds during the early hours of Saturday, according to the Swiss meteorology agency MeteoSchweiz.

Some cities also want to remove another major obstacle to stargazing: the artificial lightning that hides most of our stars, the Milky Way, and many shooting stars. The Projet Perseides invites Swiss towns to turn off municipal lights and incentivise stargazing.

The project, created in the French-speaking cantons, has gathered support mainly in western Swiss, but, according to the organisers: “Ultimately, we are targeting the whole of Europe”.

Which cities are participating?

You can find the complete list of municipalities here. The communes include Champagne, Grandson, La Chaux, Lausanne, Neuchâtel, Provence, Yverdon-les-Bains, Fribourg, and more than 100 others.

The project invites the municipalities to turn off their public lightning and convince citizens and businesses to do the same – all voluntarily.

READ ALSO: Travel: What are the best night train routes to and from Switzerland?

Projet Perseides started in Orbe in 2019 when the non-profit association convinced the town and surrounding municipalities to turn out the lights. In 2020, nearly 120 Vaud cities joined the project. The following year, they were joined by cities in Valais, Fribourg and Neuchâtel, according to the site.

What if my city is not among them?

Even if your city is not a part of the project, it is still possible to watch the phenomenon. The best time would be between 2 am (when the bright full moon sets) and pre-dawn hours, so until around 5 am.

The association says: “to enjoy the night, don’t look at light sources. Let your eyes become accustomed to the darkness”. This includes ditching your phone for a few hours.

If you can visit a part of town with little artificial light, perhaps going up a mountain, for example, you also improve your chances of seeing more of the shower.