By contrast with commercial property, the sale of residential property is very carefully controlled in Switzerland. The Law on the Acquisition of Property by Persons Abroad (LFAIE), better known as the Lex Koller, introduced in 1983, prohibits the acquisition of a residential building by any foreigner who does not hold a residence permit (permit B) or settlement permit (permit C). The sole exception is for the acquisition of a second home.
The Swiss franc goes back a long way, even predating the foundation of the Swiss National Bank (SNB). It is no exaggeration to say that the currency known as CHF is an integral part of our national identity. More than just a legal tender, our currency and its history (particularly the political and economic choices that have shaped its destiny) have played an important part in making Switzerland the country it is today. These historical decisions have often been at odds with those of other European countries, yet have frequently turned out to be wise in hindsight.
Foreigners (non-resident in Switzerland) may purchase property in Switzerland under certain conditions. Most of these conditions are defined under the Swiss Federal Law on the Acquisition of Property by Persons Abroad (LFAIE), otherwise known as “Lex Koller” (effective at 1st October 1984). The number of secondary residence acquisitions (holiday homes) that foreign nationals may purchase is restricted to 1,500 per year for the whole territory of Switzerland and is divided among the cantons with municipalities that promote tourism.
Switzerland, which willingly cultivates its specificities and spatial planning, at the same time, distinctly restricts the sale of secondary residences to foreign nationals. Since the beginning of the 1960s – or for more than fifty years now! – it has been applying a system which the majority of States shun: make foreign nationals subject to a certain number of requirements, which are occasionally extremely strict, if they wish to purchase property in Switzerland. Authors, who have made amendments to legislation, have left their mark on the country down through the years... the latest to have been implemented is known as the “Lex Koller”.