"How to buy my first home in Switzerland" guide | Step 3 - The Research

Step 3 - The Research

In the second article of this home ownership "guide", we went through all different criteria you can play with to define what type of home you want to purchase.

Once again, I don't claim to be a real estate expert.
I want to share with you my experience so you benefit from it as much as possible.

Let's continue our guide with this third "Research" part.
There are three types of real estate information source.

Two of them are quite easy to setup.

The third one can be quite challenging as it involves your social skills.

1/ Swiss real estate search engines

We are lucky in Switzerland. We have many online tools for such a small country.

The first set is a list of common search engines where people and companies can input their properties:

These are the main Swiss players.
There are surely some more that exist around there.

Our second tool is Comparis.ch.
It aggregates as many Swiss online search engine results as possible.
It avoids you to go to plenty of websites one at a time.

My strategy is to subscribe to the alert newsletter system of each of the search tools listed above.
You simply save your search criteria and receive an email notification everytime there is a new property available for you on the market.
Powerful, time-efficient and, you won't miss an opportunity anymore!

There is a third way to find a property before anyone notices it. Or at least with less people on it.
It is called Anibis.ch.
This classified ads website proposes a real estate category.
It can feel polluted by professional agencies that post on this channel too.
But there are still some gems from people who want to deal directly with buyers.

2/ Swiss real estate agency newsletters

These real estate agency newsletters are powerful.
Usually they promote new constructions early on.
By the time these properties reach the search engines, you are usually too late or left with the less interesting stuff (bad exposure apartments for instance).

I subscribed to the ones below for the Romandie region when we were looking for our home:

3/ Be social

You must talk with people about your will to buy a home.

Talk to your neighbors. They know the local market of entrepreneurs. They will tell you who is trustful and who build the best homes in your region.

If your research is far from your current home, go talk to the local neighborhood.
People love to talk. Even more when they can teach something to someone. They will reveal you a lot of insights.

In relation with point 2, meet regularly with real estate agencies' people.
I didn't do it myself because no one told me to do so...
I realized how powerful it can be when we had a coffee with the agency salesman and the constructor after the notary signature.
They were discussing about all current opportunities that were obviously not on any of the search engines yet.
Some projects were getting legal validation while others were properties going on sale soon by the cousin of the sister of the husband of etc. etc.You know the story.

Another place to talk about your quest: at work.
Again, people like to know something that others don't. And they like to tell you about it.
Use this situation to your advantage to know more about all what the real estate market has to offer.

Last but not the least, talk to people who meet a lot of people: your baker, your hairdresser, your car dealer (wat? you own a car?!?), etc.
They are a huge source of potential deals.

Welcome into The Damn Loop

You know your search criteria.
You have great tools to help you.
You've got social skills to hone.
Now, be aware that you'll mostly navigate between steps 1, 2 and 3 during some months, if not years.
Welcome into The Damn Loop.

Three keys to successfully get out of it are:

  • Patience because it will require time to find your gem. It took us about a year for instance.
  • Tradeoffs because you will challenge yourself about your criteria list. We had dropped the countryside for the city after visiting a rural apartment. When we saw our actual home (in the countryside), we re-evaluated all pros and cons to finally realize this was the place we wanted to settle in.
  • Socialize because you will have to talk and talk and talk to as many people as possible to be sure to get as many opportunities as possible to choose from!

Next step: Visit

Yes! Finally!
You have found a place that potentially match all or some of your criteria.
Congratulations! It's going to be more concrete now.

Your next step will be to visit.
I will share with you what are the good questions to ask.
You'll also learn how to behave to not betray yourself during the visits.

If you're on your way to home ownership (or already a home owner), let us know about your secret advices to find good properties.
I will update this blogpost based on your comments.



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