Accommodation in Geneva

Buy house or flat in Geneva

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The possibility to buy an accommodation in Switzerland will depend on your status. Indeed the Federal law on Purchasing buildings for Foreigners (Acquisition d'Immeubles par des Etrangers - LFAIE), from the 16th December 1983, says at Art. 2-1, that the purchase of a building by a person abroad is subject to the authorisation of the Cantonal authority. People without the right to be permanent resident in Switzerland are those without the C permit (resident permit). However this delay is reduced, after 10 years of continuous living in Switzerland for people in diplomatic missions, or even cancelled for citizens of countries with a specific agreement (most of the European Union) and who can purchase accommodation with the same rights as Swiss or C permit holders.

A person abroad can purchase without authorisation an accommodation (only one!) as his/her main residence (he/she must live in the property, all letting is forbiden) if he/she is a B permit holder.

Requests and information demands must be addressed to:

Direction des affaires juridiques du département de l'économie, de l'emploi et des affaires extérieures (DEEE)
14, rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville
Case postale 3952
1211 Genève 3
Tel. +41 22 / 327 23 08
Fax +41 22 / 327 23 60

Financing the purchase

Financing the purchase of an accommodation is usually a mix of personal funding and a mortgage (20% of personal funding for 80% mortgage most of the time in Swizterland). Personal funds can come from savings, family or other loans, settlement, and also from a mecanisme of purchase allowance.

Allowance and help

There are several light mecanism (federal and cantonal) in order to help the purchase. The most frequent comes from the federal law to encourage the purchase of the accommodation thanks to professional savings (2e pilier) that assess that an employee can use his/her "avoir de libre passage" in order to purchase his/her property. Funds can be obtained by anticipated settlement of the capital with a guarantee on the professional funds (avoir de libre passage). It is mandatory to be the main residence, and not a secondary accommodation.

The mortgage

This is a loan from a bank or an insurance company and guaranteed by a property.

There are 2 type of mortgages:

  • with direct pay off : the capital is payed off regularly and the share of interests is going down in each payment;
  • with indirect pay off : the mortage beneficiary is signing a life insurance, He/she will pay regularly the insurance fees but won't pay any redemption to the mortgage. At the end, the capital is paid as a unique redemption of the debt. Therefore this one stays constant throughout the duration of the mortgage.


After the agreement of purchasing/buying the property, the purchaser will pay the seller a deposit worth about 10% of the value of the accommodation.

In most of the cases, fees are about 4% of the price, including 3% in tax, 0.3% for legal registration fees in the Registre Foncier, and 0.7% in sollicitor fees.

We recommend to get advise when buying a property. You can contact:

Update 31/10/2005


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