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When you buy or sell residential property, additional costs are incurred. These include ancillary purchase costs and ancillary sales costs, such as the land registry fee, property transfer tax or notary fee, which are usually shared by the buyer and seller, and real estate gains tax, which is only paid by the seller. In addition, there are the fees for a new mortgage note if the old or redeemed mortgage note cannot be reused. The fees and additional costs vary from canton to canton and can amount to up to five percent of the purchase price for a buyer. They may not be paid with the mortgage. That is why you should inform yourself before negotiating the price, so that you can take the fees and additional costs into account in the budget and put the money aside for them.
The division of the land registry fee, transfer tax and notary fee is customary, but not mandatory. Therefore, to be on the safe side, you should record them in writing in the purchase contract - or change the apportionment if the buyer and the seller agree.
The land registry fee is due as soon as a change of ownership is entered in the land register. It is charged at a flat rate in most cantons and only in a few cantons on a time and material basis, for example in Zug. As a rule, the buyer and the seller share the land registry fee fifty-fifty. In the canton of Zurich, for example, notaries charge 0.1 percent of the sale price, which means for a condominium costing 1 million francs, 500 Swiss francs for the seller and 500 Swiss francs for the buyer. In the canton of Bern, the land registry entry costs 0.5 percent of the sales price, five times more than in Zurich, i.e. 2,500 Swiss francs each for the buyer and the seller.
Calculate roughly with 0.5 percent of the purchase price.
The property transfer tax is not levied in six German-speaking cantons of Switzerland: Glarus, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Uri, Zug and Zurich. In exchange, they may charge a higher land registry fee. If the transfer tax is levied, it is calculated depending on the sales price. In the canton of Bern, for example, the amount exceeding 800,000 Swiss francs is taxed at 1.8 percent. For our example house, which costs 1 million Swiss francs, this makes 3,600 Swiss francs (200,000 Swiss francs x 1.8 percent). In the canton of Neuchâtel, the same change of ownership would be taxed at up to 33,000 Swiss francs. The property transfer tax is politically controversial; it is to be abolished or reduced.
Calculate roughly with 1.5 percent of the purchase price.
The property transfer tax must be paid prior to the transfer of ownership.
The notary fee varies from canton to canton, sometimes even from notary to notary. The notary's offices in the cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Jura charge the most for property transactions, while the notary's offices in the cantons of Schwyz, Glarus and Appenzell Ausserrhoden charge the least. In cantons with an official notary's office, the fees are fixed; in cantons with independent notary's offices, you should obtain offers. In the canton of Bern you should expect notary fees of 0.5 percent of the sales price, in the canton of Zurich 0.1 percent. For our example house, this makes 2,500 Swiss francs each for the buyer and the seller in Bern, but only 500 Swiss francs for the buyer and the seller in Zurich. In return, the notary prepares the purchase contract, notarizes it and arranges for the entry in the land register.
Calculate roughly with 0.1 to 0.5 percent of the purchase price.
Some cantons assume that the buyer pays the notary fees alone. For example, the canton of Ticino. If you don't want this, you must stipulate this in writing in the purchase contract. Keep this in mind if you want to buy a vacation home in Ticino, for example.
In «Vergleich der Gebühren für die öffentliche Beurkundung verschiedener Rechtsakte» of the Preisüberwacher (only available in German), you can see, among other things, how high the notary's fees are for real estate transactions such as public notarizations (page 10) or the establishment of real estate lien contracts (page 11).
The buyer needs a mortgage note as a pledge for the bank, pension fund or insurance company that is financing the purchase with a mortgage. A new mortgage note costs 0.1 to 0.3 percent of the pledged amount, depending on the canton. For our example house, which is sold for 1 million Swiss francs and mortgaged at 80 percent, this makes 2,000 Swiss francs in Bern and Zurich (0.25 percent of 800,000 Swiss francs), which the buyer bears alone. If the seller already has a mortgage note, it might be worthwhile to take it over to save the fees for the new mortgage note. As compensation, the buyer could pay the seller half of the original fee.
Calculate roughly with 0.1 to 0.3 percent of the pledge amount.
Real estate gains tax is paid by the seller. Three factors define the amount: profit, length of ownership and location. The cantons calculate the tax very differently:
If the seller fails to pay the real estate gains tax, the tax authorities can collect the outstanding tax bill from the new owner. In «Real Estate Gains Tax: What Sellers and Buyers Should Know», read how you can protect yourself as a buyer.
Real estate gains tax is deferred if you buy a replacement property in Switzerland with the proceeds of the sale. Learn more in our article «Real Estate Gains Tax: What Sellers and Buyers Should Know».
Sales price - investment costs = property gain. In most cantons, investment costs are defined in the same or similar way as in the canton of Zurich:
With our real estate gains tax calculator, you can calculate the tax for all cantons and simulate the effects of different selling prices or selling times. You may save money if you wait a few weeks or months before selling.
No. You may not deduct the additional costs of purchase or sale from the imputed rental value and thus from your taxable income. Homeowners can only deduct maintenance and administration costs (flat-rate or actual), insurance premiums and value-preserving investments. Land registry fees, property transfer tax, notary fees or real estate gains tax are not tax deductible.