Selling real estate: Differences when selling an apartment or house

Selling your house: From preparation to handover.

Want to sell a house, property, or condominium successfully? This is a big undertaking. Selling a house or condominium is not only a personal challenge; it's also a planning challenge and requires good preparation. This article tells you everything you need to know about the best way to market your property, the actual sale process, and what is required for a successful house viewing.

Finding the right time to sell your house

When should I sell my property? Homeowners must ask themselves this important question. There are various reasons for selling; one such reason is simply getting older. What we need from our home can change as we age, meaning that our house or apartment may stop meeting our physical needs. For many people, home ownership is also a financial safeguard – selling or, alternatively, renting out your home may be an option for financing your retirement. Read this article to find out everything you need to know about housing in your golden years.

Another reason for selling may come earlier in life. For example, if you are planning to increase the size of your family and are looking for a new property with more space. Read this article to find out what you need to take into consideration when buying a property. One of the tips given in the article is that understanding the real estate market is the best way to succeed. Good knowledge of the market helps you understand when buying – and indeed selling – a property is particularly worthwhile, and when it pays to be patient. This article provides an overview and up-to-date facts about the real estate market.

Preparing the sale documents for selling the property

Having a complete sale dossier available for potential buyers will ensure that the sale process runs smoothly. It looks professional and makes negotiations easier. The dossier should contain the following documents together with a description of the property, including the price and photos:

Land record extract:

The land record extract provides important information about the legal aspects of the property, such as details about the owner and easements.

Cadastral plan:

Cadastral plans provide important information for private individuals and the authorities. They contain precise information about the location, shape, and size of the individual plots of land, including any buildings and infrastructure located on them. They are particularly important for mortgages and planning applications.

Floor plan:

A floor plan provides information about the possible uses of a building. One of its key features is connectivity: It shows how rooms are connected to each other and is particularly important for older people who don't want to walk long distances within the building. You can find out more about floor plans in this article.

Proof of building insurance:

Upon buying a property, the new owners automatically take over the building insurance. The building insurance covers damage caused by fire or flooding, for example. Did you know that in Switzerland, buildings in almost 20 cantons must be insured under the respective cantonal building insurance plan.

Other documents:

Additional documents may also be required depending on requirements and local regulations. In Switzerland, for example, an energy certificate is required by law to sell residential properties. The energy certificate rates the energy efficiency of the property and provides potential buyers with information about expected energy costs.

The most important documents for a condominium

Successfully marketing a house sale

Successful marketing is critical for reaching potential buyers and speeding up the sale process. If you want to market the house yourself, a good listing on a real estate platform is usually recommended. This should first and foremost be informative – and authentic, since too much embellishment does more harm than good. It's also important to provide good pictures of the property, and using a professional photographer will ensure that your home is shown in the best light.

The property doesn't just need to look good on paper or online, though – it also needs to look good during viewings. It is therefore worth it to pay attention to tidiness and cleanliness in and around the property, and check that all key appliances and facilities are working correctly. A professional tour will leave a good impression too, which is why it's vital to ensure that all the key documents for the sale dossier are available and that the seller appears competent. You can find further tips on listings and viewings in this article.

Should you sell the property yourself or involve a real estate agent?

If you feel unsure about selling your home privately, you can also contact a real estate agent. But when is selling your house or apartment privately the right choice and when should you call in a specialist? It's worth weighing up the pros and cons.

  • They are on hand to advise on any necessary renovation work and can tell you whether an investment will really deliver the desired added value for the sale.
  • Ideally, they will have a wide network of clients, and also know other specialists who can be consulted if required.
  • They take care of organizing viewings and handling the sale dossier.
  • They are skilled at negotiating the sale of a property.
  • Having an agent to act on your behalf may entail a high commission.
  • The service may not deliver the promised benefits or may lead to unexpected costs.

A good agent should have a large network of clients, bring experience to the negotiations, and have sufficient legal knowledge. Before making a decision, it's worth obtaining several offers and taking a look at a transparent cost statement. References and contractual conditions that are suitable for both parties are also important.

Taking the property valuation into account

The sale price always depends on supply and demand. As a basis for sales negotiations, the seller must know the value of the real estate. A property valuation can help determine a realistic offer price in this regard. The market value can be determined by a valuation expert or through a hedonic approach by drawing on comparable properties. This makes it possible to estimate the price at which the property can be sold on the market within one year. Learn more about how real estate is valued here.

In some cases, it pays to increase the value of the property before selling. This can be achieved, for example, through sustainable renovations such as installing solar panels on the roof or improving the house's thermal insulation. Making an investment does not always create the necessary added value, however, and it may take a long time to see a return. Banks and professional property valuations provide valuable support in this respect. Read more about remodeling and renovation in this article.

The sale process

The process for selling a property can vary depending on individual circumstances and agreements. However, the following intermediate steps are usually typical of the actual sale process:

1. Negotiation

A lot of skill is required when it comes to negotiating the sale price. This is because property buyers already have specific ideas about how they want to negotiate the price. In some cases, a potential buyer may initially submit a high offer, only to withdraw this shortly before the notarization stage in order to make a lower offer. As a seller, you therefore need to critically examine any high offers and consider the reasons for the interest. A real estate agent can offer valuable advice here.

It goes without saying that you need to find out during the negotiations whether the buyer is actually solvent. To prove this, confirmation of financing may be requested from their bank. This confirmation does not oblige them to continue with the purchase, however.

It's important to communicate any problems with the house or apartment openly. Otherwise, the buyer may demand that the price be reduced on the grounds that they were not aware of the issues. It's therefore advisable to make a list of any defects and then attach it to the contract of sale.

2. The contract of sale

Selling a property ultimately comes down to the contract of sale, which is drawn up by a notary. The seller and the buyer check this together and add to the wording until both parties are in agreement. The contract is then notarized and entered in the land records.

As drafting this kind of contract can take a long time, concluding a reservation agreement is recommended. This is signed by the buyer, who then makes a down payment of usually three to five percent of the sale price of the property. This agreement is not binding, but it does offer some assurance for the seller.

3. After the sale: Official handover

Once the contract of sale has been notarized, the sale process is almost complete. All that's left is the actual transfer of ownership, which takes place when the entry is made in the land records. Lastly, a handover report is drawn up for the handover of the keys to the sold property – which takes place on-site. This report includes, for example, any furniture to be accepted by the buyer and any existing defects that the seller has not yet rectified.

Selling a property via the bidding process

In addition to traditional house sales, another option is to sell via the bidding process. This means that the property is not sold at a fixed sale price, but rather that potential buyers have the opportunity to bid for the house. This is advantageous for buyers, who may be able to acquire the property at a lower price. Find out more about the bidding process here.

Finding a solution for an existing mortgage when selling a property

Rarely does the time of sale coincide with the expiration of a mortgage. Repaying an existing mortgage can incur early repayment costs. These are calculated from the difference between the interest rate at the time of conclusion and the current interest rate, the remaining term, and the amount of the mortgage. The longer the remaining term of the mortgage, the higher the costs incurred. These fees should be taken into consideration in the sale price. It may also be possible to come to an agreement with the buyer and the bank regarding the transfer of the mortgage conditions.

If you are buying another property, you have the option of transferring your mortgage to the new property. This can be a strategic part of transitional financing between two homes. You can find out how to avoid an early repayment penalty here.

Taking taxes and fees into consideration when selling a house

In all cantons of Switzerland, real estate gains taxes based on the length of ownership and investment costs apply. These vary from one canton to another. A transfer of ownership tax may also be payable depending on the canton. It may be possible to apply to defer the real estate gains tax if you are purchasing another house. If a property is a business asset, additional tax consequences and social security contributions must be taken into account. It is advisable to have a reserve for transfer of ownership costs and taxes.

Read more about how to pay your property taxes correctly here.

Seeking financial advice when selling a property

Selling a house takes a lot of time and requires good preparation – from all the parties involved, in terms of financing, and not least of the house or condominium itself. Good advice is therefore essential to help you find a sustainable solution tailored to your individual needs.

In terms of financing, mortgage advisors provide particularly valuable services, offering in-depth knowledge, state-of-the-art consulting and calculation tools, and close support throughout the sale process. In short: Get support and contact your advisor in good time.

Looking to sell your home?

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