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Swiss Buyers' Info

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Property Types in Switzerland

What restrictions are there for property buyers at a national level in Switzerland?

Restrictions on the purchase of property in Switzerland were introduced in the 1960s and are now governed by two key laws; the Lex Koller and Lex Weber.
 
Lex Koller

The Lex Koller established a permit system so only certain residential properties are eligible to be owned by a foreign buyer.
 
The Federal government issues only 1,500 permits annually for the whole of Switzerland and allocates these to the cantons. Touristic cantons such as Valais receive the most permits so it is easiest for foreigners to buy in those. Many cantons do not take any of the permits so it is not possible for foreigners to buy in cantons such as Geneva.

The Lex Koller restricts the total plot size that may be sold to foreigners to 1,000m2 and the habitable area of the chalet to 200m2 net (in practice this can be increased to 250m2).

 Your Swiss notary will apply for a permit to the Cantonal authority where the property is situated before commencing the purchase procedure. This usually takes between 4 and 6 weeks but will be less if the property is already owned by a foreigner.

 
Lex Weber
 
In 2012 the Swiss decided in a referendum that no new building permits will be given for the construction of second homes in communes where second homes already make up 20% or more of the total residential property stock. This is a federal law applying to the whole of Switzerland and to Swiss residents as well as to foreigners. As almost all ski resorts fall in to that category it is no longer possible to buy a plot of land and build a new chalet on it.

There are still some developments where building permits were secured before the rule change so there are still a few new chalets and apartments with second home status being built. We still have some developments where foreigners can buy a new chalet or apartment in Grimentz, in Saas Fee and in Andermatt (where there is a special exemption).

When these last properties are sold there will not be any more second home status properties. It will still be possible to buy a new build ski property in developments that provide a range of hotel style services and facilities. It must also be professionally rented when you are not using it. One example is the Saastal Village in Saas Fee.