Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Piece of Piste; Cheap Homes and New Laws Make It Easy to Invest in Switzerland, Says Cathy Hawker

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Piece of Piste; Cheap Homes and New Laws Make It Easy to Invest in Switzerland, Says Cathy Hawker

Article excerpt

Byline: CATHY HAWKER

IT APPEARED an unattainable dream to most Britons until 2004, then, thanks to local legislative changes designed to attract inward investment, owning a property in Switzerland suddenly became much easier.

The relaxation of purchasing laws prompted a response by developers who now want to entice investors and holidaymakers to this landlocked country at the heart of Europe.

Switzerland has many advantages for canny investors: excellent standards of construction and low buying costs; lowest interest rates for 20 years at 2.3 per cent; and in certain cantons (administrative regions) no capital gains tax or inheritance tax. Along with Switzerland's stunning Alpine scenery, the country's appeal is easy to see.

The Valais region, which includes the ski resorts of Verbier and Crans-Montana, is popular with foreign buyers.

Known as the "Canton of the Sun", it enjoys 320 days of sunshine annually.

Properties in Valais range from large chalets in Verbier worth millions of pounds to modest apartments in lesser-known villages for [pounds sterling]120,000.

Ovrannaz, a sleepy Swiss village overlooking the vineyards of the Rhone Valley, is a 45-minute drive from Verbier and an hour and a half from Geneva.

Opposite the spa baths and two kilometres from the ski lift, established local developer Philippe Dumas is building two chalets containing 14 apartments. Apartments at Les Chalets de Marie will cost from SFr338,350 ([pounds sterling]145,685) for a 50sq m one-bedroom apartment to SFr747,400 ([pounds sterling]321,813) for a 110sq m three-bedroom duplex.

"Equivalent properties in France can be up to 40 per cent more expensive than Switzerland," says Dumas. "Here we have a very stable market with steady capital appreciation between three and five per cent." Permits to buy can take up to two years though agreements in principle are given after six weeks. Buyers can move in before the final permit is obtained.

Completion is planned for April 2006. …

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