Secondary residences in the Alps

I am always surprised when I look at real estate prices in the Valaisan and Vaudois Alps. You can find places for very cheap (by Swiss standards). Sure, in the big-name ski stations (e.g., Verbier, Zermatt) real estate prices are comparable to prices in big Swiss cities, but once you look at more minor stations you can find a lot of cheap places (e.g, many 1 bedrooms in the 200k range). Understanding the nuances of Swiss real estate is certainly not my forté so maybe this forum can illuminate me…

  • Shouldn’t Lex Weber make prices go up in ski towns as supply will be limited to current inventory?
  • Why are prices in Berner Oberland mountain towns significantly higher than in similar places in Valais?
  • Why do more people not buy and rent out their secondary home for when they are not using it?
  • Are there some costs related to owning a flat in a ski village that are not obvious?
  • Is it complicated for one to buy an existing flat/villa for use as a secondary residence in a commune where Lex Weber applies?
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Background: We own a small chalet in Valais, right on the slopes of a smallish ski area

  1. Yes! And I think it did. Prices have increased more than the average real estate prices - IMHO
  2. Offer and demand…?
  3. Just for the convenience - at least in our case. During higher season (e.g. all winter), our chalet is heavily used (family and friends, like “open doors”). To rent it out, you need someone to manage the whole thing (clean, wash the bed linen, … repair etc.) And you have to keep a very strict schedule (e.g 1/2 - 1 year in advance)! So a spontaneous trip / visit won’t be possible if the whole thing is rented out…
  4. Yes, lots of hidden taxes and costs! At least in Valais… E.g.tax for “cold beds”, tourist / visitor’s tax (even if you own the house!), fees for (private) roads, high(er) operating costs (e.g. electricity, waste, …)
  5. idk

With just the direct variable costs, we could spend 1-2 Weeks per year in a nice hotel with everything included. For us, it more like an “emotional Investment” - not sure, if the case is positive in the (very) long term, though…

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Interesting reply. Thanks.

Yeah, the advantage of having your own place where you can store things and renovate as you wish needs to be weighed against the advantage of being able to visit a bigger variety of places during vacations/weekends away.

I think the only thing better than owning your own ski chalet must be having a close family member or friend who owns one :laughing:

Lots of appartments can’t be sold as a secondary home any more. That means there is less buyers for these ones.

Ticino has that, too. I wonder if it’s a country-wide thing?

Speaking of costs, it depends very much on what you want to do. For example, if you want to go fishing, you need a license, and that to my knowledge can be more expensive if you have your residence elsewhere.

How do you get to Valais? You either drive almost down to Geneva, or you go through the Furka. In comparison to Berner Oberland, that’s much less convenient. Also, during the winter, the Goms (that’s where Furka exits the mountain) occasionally is cut off because of heavy snow, so you lose that access point too.

FYI: there exists a Switzerland beyond greater Zürich

Yes Valais is less accessible than BE, but another common way to Oberwallis with car is Lötschberg (Autoverlad).
Also with the “new” NEAT train travel to Oberwallis has been reduced by an hour, some mustachians would travel to secondary residence by public transport.

Our family owns a chalet in Valais. If you don‘t rent to tourists (and file the revenue as income), you have to pay 1% of the „Katasterwert“ which is easily CHF 2000+ because of the „cold beds“ tax.

It‘s also important to notice that the additional costs are much higher in comparison to urban areas. For electricity we pay more in network fees than the whole bill at our apartment in the city which adds up to about three times the bill for power.

For a house that is about worth CHF 500k we have running costs of around CHF 4500 bit this does not include the „cold beds“ tax, wealth and income tax or the 1% per year you should plan for renovation or the cost of morgage. Adding all of this up you can easily reach 5 figure costs per year without taking opportunity cost into account.

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