Buying real estate in Switzerland: Everything foreign buyers need to know

As a foreigner, buying property in Switzerland may not be as hard as you think. You won't have to climb mountains - maybe just scale a few hills - because we're going to give you all the tools, including the keys, to conquer the entire process

First and foremost, you’ll have to find that special property that makes you want to relocate to Switzerland as a full or part-time resident. This part is made especially easy with BARNES Switzerland, a distinguished actor in the luxury real estate sector. Our clients benefit from a generous real estate portfolio. Including a selection of exceptional properties: lakefront villas, mountain chalets, luxury apartments with breathtaking views, and mansions in the middle of the city.

Situated in the center of Europe, Switzerland boasts a variety of landscapes, a world-renowned high quality of life, safety and security, and excellent education in both Swiss and international schools.

Who can buy property in Switzerland?

A buyer who is an EU national or “non-European” can become a homeowner in Switzerland.

Those holding a B permit (resident foreign national) or C permit (settled foreign national) are able to purchase residential property for their principal residence, secondary residence or holiday accommodation. There are a few conditions: the acquisition must be made in the buyer’s own name, and only holiday accommodations can be rented. Other particularities depend on the canton in which the acquisition is made. The experts at BARNES Switzerland are very familiar with the process in each canton. You just have to ask.

The procedure to buy real estate in Switzerland is quite similar to many other countries, and include notary fees (approximately 0.2%), property tax (3%), land register (0.25%), and capital gains tax (if less than 2 years, 50%). On Swiss land, real estate investments are long-term.

The most popular properties

The properties most coveted by foreigners for the purposes of a second home or vacation property are often located in tourist areas. Top of the list: ski resorts, the Montreux region, and the canton of Ticino.

Luxury chalets and apartments in resort destinations like Crans-Montana, Crans-sur-Sierre, Gstaad, Rougemont, and Verbier are sought-after by an affluent clientele looking for high-end real estate.

Principal residences are more times than not located in cities or on the periphery, in proximity to workplaces.

Waterfront villas on the shores of Lake Geneva or Lake Maggiore are rare to find on the market. But when they are put for sale, they are exceptional properties listed by BARNES Switzerland. This is the result of an international network of 60 agencies and a clientele with an affinity for extraordinary real estate. These villas are located in Geneva, Lausanne, Locarno, Lugano, Montreux, and on the banks of towns that border the lakes.

Those living near the border have the possibility of acquiring a secondary residence in their own name that’s situated close to their workplace, however, they are not allowed to put the property up for rent.

These are just the basic guidelines, so don't hesitate to ask more questions. The experts at BARNES Switzerland have the answers.