The Swiss real estate market possesses significant differences compared to the remaining European real estate market. An important characteristic in this case is that the Swiss are mostly "a nation of renters". Around 62.8 percent of people living in Switzerland rent their accommodations (version: 2012); in urban centres, this number is as high as up to 85 percent. On the one hand, this is the result of historical conditions, while on the other, there are hardly any state subsidies available for purchasing residential real estate. Furthermore, residential property results in tax disadvantages for private persons in Switzerland. The options for developing new residential real estate are also significantly limited for geographic reasons.
On 1 June, 2013, around 40,000 apartments were not inhabited in Switzerland, which corresponds with a vacancy rate of 0.96 percent. In both of the previous years, the vacancy rate was 0.94 percent. The lowest rate is 0.6 percent in the cantons of Basel City, Zug, Geneva, Basel Area, and Zurich. On the other hand, the cantons of Jura, Solothurn, Aargau, Appenzell-Ausserrhoden, Glarus, and St. Gallen all report vacancy rates above 1.5 percent. With regard to rates according to apartment sizes, it may be observed that these drop as the number of rooms increases (1-room apartments: 1.14 percent - 6-room apartments: 0.68 percent). The increase in vacancy rates is apparent for newly developed rental apartments in particular (vacancy rate 1.5 percent), which is evidently attributable to the pricing policy in the area of rental of new apartments.
In the city of Zurich, the vacancy rate as of 1 June, 2013 was 0.11 percent (242 empty apartments). This vacancy rate, which is nearly negligible, was mainly the result of unrented apartments in the more expensive neighbourhoods 1 (City), 2 (Enge, Wollishofen), 7 (Zürichberg), and 8 (Seefeld). In comparison, the vacancy rate is 0.2 percent in Lausanne, 0.2 percent in Winterthur, 0.3 percent in Basel, and 0.4 percent in Geneva and Bern. (compared internationally, the vacancy rate is 2.2 percent in Frankfurt, 1.7 percent in Munich, and 4.92 percent in Berlin).
Although endeavours are being undertaken to create new residential space, these are hardly able to satisfy the demand for residential space. Due to these circumstances, we consider the short-term and medium-term Swiss residential real estate market to be attractive; in the long term, politically motivated intervention in the development of demographics (e.g. "mass immigration initiative") cannot be reliably foreseen.