ZURICH, March 10 The Swiss government proposed
on Friday making non-EU foreigners sell their homes when they
leave the country, prompting resistance from the real estate
More than three decades after Switzerland liberalised
property purchases for foreigners, and amid concern that foreign
demand helps drive up prices, the cabinet said it was time to
update the law to close loopholes and improve enforcement.
It suggested requiring citizens from countries outside the
European Union plus Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway to get
permission to buy main residences in Switzerland.
"Permits should always be linked to the duty to sell the
home again as soon as residence in Switzerland is relinquished,"
the government said, as it opened a period of public comment
before sending draft legislation to parliament.
It also proposed tightening rules covering other types of
property investment by foreigners.
A real-estate lobbying group called Lex Koller Remains
Modern, a reference to the original law that opened the property
market to foreigners, blasted the proposals as a "nonsensical
tightening" of the rules.
These measures, if adopted, "would pose unacceptable
disadvantages for property owners while exacerbating the
situation on housing markets" it said in a statement, adding
that parliament had already opposed similar changes in 2014.
The lobbying group said foreigners were not to blame for
overly expensive or scarce residential housing. Rising demand in
an increasingly prosperous society with smaller households and
more immigrants was to blame for driving rental prices higher,
A study by Credit Suisse this month concluded that rental
prices are actually falling amid strong construction investment
driven by negative Swiss interest rates. Prices of
owner-occupied housing are no longer rising after a 14-year
period of price growth ended late last year, the bank said.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Catherine Evans)