“I know a couple in Lausanne, Switzerland, whose combined income is certainly over $500k. They rent. Many Swiss cities are renter cities.” – Jeff Murdock at VREAA 9 Dec 2011 8:19am
“The Swiss have a very well balanced real estate system. They live in a country with limited land and thus, the ownership and use of land is somewhat regulated and it is an asset to be consumed and not “invested in” or traded. This creates a very very stable market. You’ll see that the value of Swiss real estate has barely gone up in the past 20 years which is not so bad in a country where there has been almost no inflation. However, here are some items that keep their real estate in check.
1.) 80% of people rent. It is an asset to be consumed and it’s value is derived from the rent.
2.) Rent is a factor of property value/interest rates and is controlled and regulated.
3.) 100% of the maintenance risk lies with the tenants. Costs are allocated throughout the year in addition to the base regulated rent. In the event of a major item – it is split up between the tenants.
4.) If you actually own, you can deduct your interest – however- even if you have no mortgage (and thus no deduction) you also have an income inclusion which represents hypothetical rental income to yourself. You have to impute rent at say 4% of the property value each year. This is added to your income and you pay income tax on it.
5.) Foreign ownership restrictions are everywhere. And Foreigners have restrictions on the real estate that they dispose and they only allowed to sell for a gain in restricted circumstances.
A few other Swiss things to note. The pensions are very very rich and well funded. Up to 30% of your income each year goes into the pension system. Thus – pension funds are massive and retired people are very very wealthy. Where does the pension money go? To own the real estate buildings that people rent – since this is guaranteed and almost riskless cash flow (cash flow is risk reduced because rents are hardwired to property value and the maintenance and repair costs flow to tenants).
Another item is that since all the properties are owned by pension funds and insurance companies, you will never be asked to move – – in fact – most Swiss never move. It is too expensive (when you leave – you must return the property in the original condition you received it – no such thing as normal wear and tear. Plus – your movers are not cheap either – over 100/hour plus equipment rental costs).
All this means that Real Estate fulfills its function of providing housing stock as a consumable. Cities are priced in a rational way and so is real estate. Owning v. renting is not really much different in terms of risk. Vancouver could learn a lot from this. I am a strong advocate of implementing some type of limited foreign ownership restriction. Where you are dealing with a limited resource – you need to have the resource used for the benefit of the operation of the city – and not some type of traded commodity.”
- ZRH2YVR at VREAA 10 Dec 2011 8:11pm
“I thought it was funny that they make $500,000 a year and still have to rent – mega lol”
- tmda commenting at RETalks 10 Dec 2011 7:53am on Jeff Murdock’s comment above
Thanks to ZRH2YVR for the description of the very sensible Swiss system.
In Vancouver we do things very differently, of course. Ownership culture is entrenched. The speculative mania has caused each and every property to be viewed at least partly as a financial instrument.