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Switzerland Real Estate Practices

Fees and costs vary in each of the 26 different Swiss cantons, while the general practice of buying is similar all over the country:

Sales commissions of between a minimum of 2% and 5% are included in the sales prices and will, therefore, be paid to the agent by the vendor (seller). The agent should not ask for a buyer's fee unless an explicit mandate to search for specified property is contractually agreed upon.

Sales cost (notary, stamp duty, sales tax and registration fee) will be a total of 1% - 4.5% of the purchase price. In some cantons, it will be split between the buyer and seller while, in other cantons, the buyer pays all of it.

There is no multiple listing service in Switzerland although some agents share properties between themselves through individual agreements or networks.

There is a requirement for agents to be licensed in Switzerland and the reputable firms will only employ those with a proven track record. There is not very strict Government legislation regulating the industry.

Mortgages are widely available to foreign buyers. Most Swiss banks will finance between 50% and 80% of purchase value, subject to status.

Residential sales to foreigners are subject to approval. Holiday residences (where position, size and yearly overall number of properties are restricted) will need a "buying permit". A "permit of residence" is a necessary condition for a first residence. The cost of such a permit might be a few thousand Swiss Francs.

A sales contract may be signed at any time at a notary's, who will then apply for the necessary permit. The notary will register the purchase only after receiving the necessary permit. The issue of a Permit to Purchase will take approximately 3 months, while issue of a Primary Residency Permit might take only a few weeks.

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