Practically vacant for years after completion: the Dreilinden estate in Langenthal Bey.
Dorothea Wollenweider, Ulrich Rotzinger
The decline is stronger than in 20 years: 9,869 fewer apartments are vacant compared to the previous year, a significant decrease of 13.8 percent. This is the result of the calculation of vacancies by the Federal Statistics Office (BFS). The reference date for the annual vacancy rate survey is 1 June.
Striking: There are only 61,496 vacant apartments, which corresponds to 1.31 percent of the total housing stock in Switzerland, including single-family homes. So it should come as no surprise that life has moved on to ghost towns as well. For example in Langenthal BE.
the ghosts have flown away
Blick reported on the Dreilinden development in the autumn of 2017, being able to deliver 9 of the 38 apartments only a year after completion. “We only have vacancies at the Dreilinden development when there is a change of tenants,” says Cecil Richards (48), managing director of the Constivita Immobilian Investment Foundation in Dübendorf ZH, which is responsible for the Langenthal property. Dreilinden has been completely rented for about nine months.
There is also talk of a vacancy rate of “less than 5 percent” for Sue & Till development in Winterthur, which was initially not very popular. According to the administration, the demand has increased significantly in the last 6 to 9 months.
There is also talk of housing shortage in some areas. “Anyone who is looking for a rental apartment knows it is difficult,” confirms Ursina Kubili (43), senior real estate specialist at Zucher Kantonalbank (ZKB). The housing shortage is most felt in cheap apartments.
Attracting tenants with gifts is a thing of the past
Just a few years ago, female tenants had the upper hand. They were able to negotiate free months while renting a new home or receiving gifts in kind. “This is the end of it,” says expert Kubili.
There are several reasons for this drastic change in the Swiss housing market. On the one hand, fewer new projects are being planned because the creation of land reserves is scarce. “As a result, the construction of new apartments has been declining for many years,” says Donato Scognamiglio (52), head of the real estate consulting firm Iazzi. Another problem: Anyone who plans construction projects is often faced with objections. This leads to delays or builders abandon their plans.
The objections themselves do not complicate the construction. The industry is also grappling with delays in delivery and rising cost of construction materials. “This is currently the biggest organizational and financial challenge for the industry,” says Matthias Engel, spokesman for the Swiss Builders Association.
Bern has still the most empty apartments
Scarce supply meets ever-increasing demand. Because the economy has recovered since the pandemic, and immigration is on the rise. This led to the commissioning of more houses last year.
In the first six months alone, 12,000 more people came from abroad than in the previous year. This does not include the more than 60,000 refugees from Ukraine. So far, these play a subordinate role in terms of demand as they are accommodated in federal and cantonal housing as well as private homes. The longer they last, the greater their impact on the housing market is likely to be.
While vacancies fell the most in the cantons of Aargau, Valais and Vaud, the canton of Bern had the highest number of vacant apartments as of the previous year. An increase in vacancies was recorded in the cantons of Jura, Basel-Stadt, Schaffhausen and Glarus.