More restrictions on foreign property buyers in Switzerland

Further restrictions on foreign buyers in Switzerland are due to take effect from January 2013, making it even more difficult to buy a second home in the country popular for its ski and lakeside resorts.

Restrictions already apply to foreign nationals buying residential property in Switzerland and the current regulations, known as Lex Koller, governing international buyers of Swiss property require them to obtain a permit from the appropriate cantonal and federal authorities.
The law restricts purchases by non-Swiss buyers to areas within designated Holiday Zones, predominantly in ski resorts and the immediate areas surrounding both Montreux and Lugano. In all areas, 200 square meters is the maximum size of an individual property available to non Swiss buyers.
Following a recent vote, further restrictions will take effect from 01 January 2013. ‘These will limit the number of secondary residences, for both Swiss and non-Swiss buyers, in all locations throughout Switzerland. The aim is for no village to have more than 20% of its properties registered as secondary residences,’ said Alex Koch de Gooreynd, head of Knight Frank's Swiss desk.

‘The full details of the law are not yet finalised but, as it is due to come into effect within the next seven months, we expect these details to become clear over the next quarter. The most obvious implication is that far fewer properties will be available to non-Swiss buyers,’ he explained.

‘As far as we are being advised, it is anticipated that in the majority of cases, non-Swiss owners who currently have a second home in Switzerland will be able to sell their property to another non-Swiss resident without restriction,’ he pointed out.
‘There is however concern that this may not be the case in every instance, and this is naturally creating nervousness among some buyers who are choosing not to commit until the full details of the law are announced,’ he added.
Should the law be arranged as expected and allow such transactions to take place without exception, Knight Frank expects to see a huge increase in activity by those looking to take advantage of the last few development apartments available to non-Swiss buyers. This, in turn, is likely to drive prices higher.