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Swiss Buyers' Info

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What is the purchase process when buying a property in Switzerland?

The property purchase process in Switzerland can vary slightly from case to case depending on factors such as whether you are buying a newly-built property or a resale, where you are buying exactly and what nationality you are. However, the process remains broadly the same throughout (and we are on hand to support you at all times). 

Agreeing a deal
Usually the process will begin with an offer being made. You will usually want to make this offer through an agent and they will advise you on a sensible place to start. It is common for buyers and vendors to negotiate a while for proeprty in the Swiss Alps but some buyers are more prepared and receptive to offers than others.

Once a price is agreed you may be asked to sign a reservation contract. For off-plan projects (whether newbuilds or renovations) you will always be asked to sign a reservation agreement and pay a small deposit. However, this is increasingly common for resale properties too as a gesture of good will. The developer or vendor will countersign the contract and the property will not be marketed to other potential buyers for a period while you prepare your mortgage application and begin the purchase process.

Securing finance
If you have not already secured finance and you wish to purchase with a mortgage, then the next step would be to apply for the mortgage. Swiss banks will lend up to 70% of the purchase price. While it can be tempting to go with big established names in Swiss banking, this often leads to difficulties as local banks & local bank managers have a much closer knowledge of the local property markets in the top Swiss ski destinations. So our recommendation is always to go with a local bank who can provide the best insight & value, we are always happy to make some recommendations.
Notary appointed
Once you have secured a mortgage offer, a notary will be appointed to manage the sale (acting on behalf of the purchaser and vendor). Generally the notary is appointed by the agency or collaborating agencies who have agreed the sale. Notaries act impartially for both parties and they have a set price structure so it makes sense to go with the recommended notary as the agents tend to chose those who have performed best with their buyers in the past. We at Investors in Property, for example, have a selection of preferred notaries in all the resorts where we sell, who provide documentation in English and offer an efficient service.

Foreigner purchase permit
The notary's first job is to collate the basic information regarding the sale. This includes basic info on the buyers, basic info on the vendors and info regarding the property to be sold. This information is used to prepare an application for a foreigner purchase permit and a draft of the deed of sale. All foreign buyers in Switzerland must apply for and secure a foreigner purchase permit before they can complete a purchase by signing the sales deed. The application is prepared by the notary and sent off to the Canton for approval. Usually this takes 2-4 weeks and it would only be refused if you already own another property in Switzerland or the property does not comply with the rules.

If you are a Swiss resident (via passport or B/C permit) then you do not need to apply for a foreigner purchase permit. As a result you will be able to conclude the purchase on average about 2-4 weeks quicker than a foreign buyer.
Deed of sale
Once the foreigner purchase permit has been secured, the deed of sale must be signed within 30 days. This can either be done in person or by power of attorney. Well over 90% of the sales we agree in Switzerland are concluded by power of attorney due to convenience. The notary will also work with the bank for the registration of your mortgage.
Land registry & handover

Once the deed of sale is signed, this will be sent to the Land Register. It usually takes a few weeks for the sale to be written into the Land Register, however, many vendors and buyers will agree to a handover of keys (and responsibility for the property) once the signing has occurred as the sale is then inevitable. The sale is formally concluded once it has been entered into the Land Register.
All in all the process can vary from 2-4 months. It sounds a complicated process but it is actually quite straightforward and we are happy to support buyers (and vendors) throughout.

Information correct as of 1st January 2024. This may change as rules and regulations change often, so please contact us directly if you have any specific enquiries.