Best (and last) chance to buy in Switzerland?

19th March 2012, by Chris Gill

Swiss chalets  (c) Investors in Property

Swiss chalets (c) Investors in Property

From January 2013 no new second home properties will be built in any Swiss ski resorts. This is the latest news following a referendum held in the country last week, and means British investors will need to move quickly to own that dream property. There are big advantages to doing that, however, as UK-based company Investors in Property highlights.

In what is being hailed a ‘mad’ decision, Swiss voters have backed a proposal to ban the construction of any more second homes in areas that already have a 20% or higher proportion of such properties. The result showed that only 50.6% of voters were in favour of the new law (about 15 of the 26 cantons involved), a very narrow margin. But the law will still come into force next year, despite fierce opposition from locals and councillors in key regions such as Graubünden.

Speaking about the decision to the press, Simon Malster of UK group Investors in Property commented, “It’s democracy gone mad; just a narrow majority of a few thousand people dictating to the people living in these resorts what they can or cannot do. Most people affected are happy with the system as it is.”

Others opposing the new ruling claim that development will just shift to villages where the 20% quota has not been reached and that it will have a detrimental effect on employment. According to the Swiss bank Credit Suisse, as much as one in six jobs in the resorts is related to property development.

Here and now …

The ban will apply only to new building permits and it won’t just affect foreign second home buyers; the Swiss will face the same problem. So what does this latest decision mean for people wanting to buy in Switzerland now? And what about properties already under construction?

If you already own a Swiss property, then the law will not affect you. You may, of course, do very well initially out of this decision: it is rumoured that the value of existing property may rise significantly. And if you buy now, you will have the right to re-sell the second home to foreign buyers in the future and, in theory, at an appreciably higher price because of the rare second home status.

Local planning rules and legislation has been in force for some time, with resorts such as Zermatt limiting the amount of construction that can take place. Foreigners cannot buy there at all. But elsewhere there is still the opportunity to buy a new property before the new law takes effect.

Investors in Property has over 25 years experience in selling apartments and chalets in Switzerland. The company has produced a special brochure, highlighting a selection of fabulous new properties available to buy in major Swiss ski resort regions, such as Wengen, the Four Valleys, Saas Fee, Villars and Engelberg.

Saas Fee, for example, is not far from Zermatt and is especially snow-sure; the glacier provides year-round skiing too. Investment in new lifts is planned that one day might even provide a ski link with Zermatt. It is a prime location, and Investors has 2-4 bedroomed apartments from CHF 690,000 (about £470,000).

Wengen is a particular favourite with British skiers and sits beneath some of the most beautiful mountains in Europe – the famous Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Chalet Arbendrosa has apartments from CHF 440,000 (£300,000).



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