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INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Living and buying property in Switzerland

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The dynamic of the real estate market around the world varies from one country to another, however not for Switzerland. The Swiss market is still firm and stable. The whole country benefits from a stable and secure economy, a high demand in property and great quality of living. Zurich was rated again this year as the city with the highest quality of life. 

Switzerland has seen a strong increase in prices in the beginning of 2000 until 2012 and has had a stable price development since then. This amazing country has remained one of the greatest real estate markets to invest in; however this comes a few eligibility conditions that we have presented for you below: 

Immigration of EU/EFTA citizens

Work and residence permit
Since the legal validity of the bilateral agreements between the European Union(EU) and Switzerland, which also apply to the European Free Trade Association(EFTA), EU citizens who are staying in Switzerland for business purpose have a legitimate claim for admission to the labour market.
The cantons realise the residence regulations of the agreement. The economy and labour department (KWA) authorises residence on presentation of an employment contract with locally and industrially common work conditions. Then the stay permit is reviewed and issued by the office of foreigners (KAFA). EU/EFTA citizens are already favoured in granting stay permits.

Residence permit
EU/EFTA citizens can obtain a permanent residence permit after five years of intermittent or continuous stay in Switzerland. It is not subject of the Agreement on the Free Movement between the European Union and Switzerland. In contrast to the stay permit, the permanent residence permit is unconditional and unlimited.


Immigration of non EU/EFTA citizens

Work and residence permit
Since the legal validity of the bilateral agreements between the European Union(EU) and Switzerland and its application to the EFTA, their citizens are treated as a priority. The number of permits for citizens of other countries is strictly limited.

For annual or short-term residents who enter Switzerland with the purpose of employment or residency for the first time, the economy and labour department (KWA) checks if the conditions for employment are met. Based on this decision the office of foreigners (KAFA) grants a stay permit.


Acquisition of real estate in Switzerland

The purchase of property in Switzerland is possible nearly without any restrictions and authorizations. Property buyers of Swiss managed companies are not subject to any limitations.

Acquisition for residential purposes

- EU/EFTA citizens with main residence in Switzerland are on a par with Swiss citizens in the purchase of property of every kind. They do not need an additional permit.

- EU/EFTA citizens without main residence in Switzerland are on a par with Swiss citizens in the purchase of property for           professionalism. The purchase of second homes requires authorization. Hence, multi-family houses cannot be acquired.

- For foreigners with residence abroad as well as foreigners with residences in Switzerland who are neither EU/EFTA citizen nor have a valid permanent residence permit, the following applies:

Plots up to 3,000 m2 can be purchased without permit as owner-occupied residence(main residence) if the purchaser has a valid permanent residence permit.Purchase of land with more than 3,000 m2 requires a permit issued by the Department for Economic Affairs of the canton responsible.

Acquisition for business purposes

For the purchase of land for business purposes (including reserve areas) no permit is required even if the operation area is rented or leased to third parties.This applies also in case a foreign ruled company buys the plot. However, it is recommended to confer with the Department for Economic Affairs. Thus, the acquisition of all commercial real estate for investment purposes is possible.


If you thinking of buying in Switzerland and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call our office on 0207 584 1100 or send us an email at

Engel & Völkers

London Chelsea
293 Brompton Road
SW3 2DZ London
Great Britain
+44 20 758411-00

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