Can I still buy a second home in Switzerland?
In short: yes you can. Unlike what many people think, buying a holiday home in Switzerland is still possible. The good news is that there are homes available for any budget. All of our properties on the website are eligible as second residence so you don’t have to worry about falling in love with the wrong chalet! Read this article if you’d like to learn more about the regulations regarding the purchase of second homes in Switzerland as defined in “Lex Koller – 1984” and “Lex Weber – 2012”.
First off; what is a second home
In Switzerland, you have a second home when you are not a resident in the commune where the house is located and when you don’t need the house for work or education purposes. Instead, you use the house or apartment as holiday home or rent it to private tenants.
The Swiss Federal Act on second homes (Lex Weber)
As of 2016, you can no longer construct new second homes in municipalities that already have 20% of second homes. This law applies to both Swiss nationals and foreigners. However, building on land that has already received a building permit for second homes or renovating and existing property remains possible! It may be even possible to enlarge the property by 30%. Demolishing the existing property in order to rebuild it according to your own standards is also a possibility. In this case you do have to rebuild the property in the same place.
Lex Weber in practice
Lex Weber applies when the municipality of your liking exceeds the 20% limit of second homes. Montreux, Verbier and Zermatt are some of the municipalities that have already exceeded the limit. You can find out the percentage of second homes per municipality in this interactive graph on the Swiss authorities website. (Click the image below).
Second home percentage for each touristic municipality of the Swiss Confederation.
Opportunities still exist when the 20% limit is exceeded
Some municipalities that exceed the 20% limit are currently merging with other municipalities that still have enough margin. Other possibilities lie within exceptions that can be made under the Lex Weber law. Sometimes you can still transform serviced apartments, protected or typical local buildings and former hotels into second homes. You would need to prove that these buildings can only be preserved when transformed into second homes. Also residential buildings that were constructed or approved before Lex Weber was accepted are sometimes accepted. Ask us for the possibilities if you are looking to buy or build in a municipality that exceeds the 20% threshold and we will help you further!
Buying a second home as a foreigner
If the home you are looking to buy as a second residence is eligible (like all properties on the Dreamchalet website are), different rules apply depending on whether you already live in Switzerland or not. If you already live in Switzerland and have a residence permit (L,B or C), you will need a permit to buy a second home under certain circumstances. Check out the conditions that may apply to you on the Swiss authorities website. If you are a foreigner and don’t have a residence permit, you need an issuance of a so-called ‘Lex Koller quota’ when buying a holiday home. Below we describe the conditions you need to meet.
Swiss Federal Law on the Acquisition of Property by Persons Abroad (Lex Koller)
If you are a foreigner without a residence permit, the Swiss Federal Law on the Acquisition of Property by Persons Abroad (LFAIE) also known as “Lex Koller” applies to you (effective since 1984). This law restricts the amount of holiday homes that foreigners may purchase to 1500 a year. This number is divided among cantons that promote tourism such as Vaud, Fribourg and Valais. If you want to buy a second home, you can request authorisation from the Swiss authorities if you meet the following conditions:
- The home will be for your private usage. Renting your home to private tenants is allowed for a maximum of 6 months per year.
- You will need to live in the home for at least 3 weeks per year. If the property is unoccupied for a longer period you may need to sell it within 2 years.
- You can only have one single holiday property per family / household. Minor children under 18 years old are still considered to be part of the family / household and can purchase real estate of their own starting the age of 18.
- The maximum living space is 200m² (up to 250m² in some situations)
- The maximum land surface is 1000m² in case of a chalet or individual house. Under certain conditions more land can be acquired. Contact us for more information.
- The second home can’t be sold for the first 5 years, starting from the date you officially own the property. Only in cases of force majeure (for instance when you get sick or worse) the house can be resold without profit.