The procedure to acquire, hold and sell properties and its taxation is primarily regulated by cantonal and communal laws. The overriding law on acquisition of real estate in Switzerland (which has numerous restrictions for foreigners) is called "Lex Koller". This law clearly distinguishes between categories of real estate (residential and commercial) and categories of purchasers.
In essence, it is therefore fairly difficult for non-Swiss residents to purchase property in Switzerland unless they become a Swiss resident or that the property is located within a designated “Holiday Zone”. These zones are predominantly found in the ski resorts as well as the immediate areas surrounding both Montreux or Lake Lugano. With all these areas the maximum size allowed is 200 sq m of official living space per named individual (this does not include balconies or basement areas).
Of course there are occasional allowances such as if a buyer’s children are to be educated in Switzerland or if they can buy through a Swiss based (and majority owned) company. All of these are possible but must be negotiated with the authorities on your behalf by a local lawyer.
Working closely with the legal and tax advisory firm Transforma Consulting; we have produced a detailed guide to buying property in Switzerland that will give you an introduction to this complicated legal system as well as a brief summary of taxes triggered by the purchase of real estate.
If you have any further questions then please feel free to contact us when we would be delighted to discuss this process in more detail with you.