Verbier foreign sales banned

The top Swiss ski resort of Verbier has banned foreigners from buying homes there for the next year. The waiting lists for property are already incredibly long with over 1000 people currently on ths list and the ban imposed by the Government is meant to ease pressure on the resort and surrounding areas. However locals are worried that this means that buyers will look elsewhere and the resort will lose some of it’s popularity.

Seven communes in the canton Valais area are party to the ban on foreign sales. The federal law – the ‘Lex Koller’ – already limits the number of holiday homes bought by foreigners. This currently stands at 310 units for Valais.

All of the seven communes which have been hit by the ban have between 3 and 6 year waits for actual sales to go through. The ban is meant to protect buyers from the ‘legal insecurities’ whilst they wait for the sale to complete – under Swiss law, a buyer does not become the owner of a property when contracts have been exchanged; they only become legal owners when the sale has been recorded in the land registry. Because of the recent quota system, the number of deals waiting to be registered in the Valais region has gone up by 500% – from approximately 200 to nearly 1000 deals.

The major point of contention is that locals feel the communes hit by the ban have been unfairly singled out. With foreigners unable to buy, they will look to other ski resorts such as Villars which means that local business may be hit, and the populartity of the resort may wane over time. It is also said that it is not foreign buyers who are fueling the property boom in the area – many of the buyers are Swiss nationals and foreigners already resident in Switzerland. These people are not covered by the Lex Koller so the ban will probably not have the desired effect.

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