The Covid has led to a sharp decrease in items available for sale in the mountains. We can clearly see this at Gérance Service: in 2022, supply cannot meet demand. According to studies quoted by the Tribune de Genève, in touristic villages, the prices of second homes has increased by 12.8%, and those of individual houses by 18.4%. According to our experience, confirmed by UBS studies, which are much more reliable and realistic, in the municipality of Ollon, prices have only slightly increased by 2.5% and 6% respectively.
Year-round living in the mountains is now possible
We have previously talked about the causes of this increase in price: rediscovery of Switzerland by locals because of prohibitions on to travel, the growth of remote working, desire to reconnect with nature. It is also important to mention the accessibility of education for children whose families choose to settle in the mountains. In Villars alone, there are four renowned international schools, as well as an excellent public school system. This allows many families to consider their main residence in the mountains.
A supply that has halved
Since mid-2019, demand has been such that supply cannot keep up. The supply of property as see online has almost halved in touristic locations. Between 2012 and 2019 we observed, in our municipality, an average of around 250 items for sale, 50 of which were new. On the day of publication of this article, there are approximately 100 items left for sale. Among these objects, more than 80% are properties above one million Swiss francs, and therefore out of reach for most Swiss buyers.
Few new constructions and constantly increasing demand
Almost 10 years ago to the day (March 11, 2012), the Lex Weber has destroyed the possibilities of new construction of second homes: it prohibits their construction in municipalities already possessing 20% of this type of property. Thus, many investors and builders find themselves unable to carry out their construction projects. The only possibility for buyers is to acquire properties that have already been built, which are becoming increasingly rare due to high demand. Currently, there are only 9 new objects left in our commune.
Nowadays it is the revision of the General Allotement Plan (Plan général d’affectation), in application of the LAT Territorial Planning Act (Loi sur l’aménagement du territoire) which has put a definitive end to the possibilities of building as a main residence as well. Only two planning permission applications were made in Villars in 2022, and they were both countered by the Canton, which immediately de-zoned the plots to reserved area (zone-reservée). It was March 3 and March 17, 2022. It will therefore remain non-buildable until the canton accepts the Communal Allocation Plan (PACom) which will soon be submitted to it by the municipality.
What trend to come?
Experts predict that the rise in prices will continue. More and more demand, less and less supply. This increases the difficulty for local populations to find housing, which goes against the raison d’etre of the Lex Weber, whose main objective was to maintain the housing market at affordable prices for local people. A Credit Suisse study devoted to the secondary residence segment is considering a bold proposal: the establishment of a specific tax on secondary residences, in order to limit requests while generating tax revenue. More to follow. According to Gérance Service, in the canton of Vaud the taxes, already sky-high, are undoubtedly the main reason for the absence of customers for properties whose prices are above one million francs.
Source: Tribune de Genève, 03/16/22, “The new boom in second homes in Switzerland”, Pierre Jacquot
Source: UBS Real Estate Local Fact Sheet 12/2021
Source: Crédit Suisse Marché Immobilier Suisse Mars 2022