Selling a building plot

Increasing demand with declining supply: building plots and available land are now a rare commodity in Switzerland. Population growth and increasing prosperity are leading to higher demand. But supply isn’t keeping pace: only around 7% of land in Switzerland is available for construction. So if you have a building plot to sell, you’re sitting on a goldmine. There’ll probably be no shortage of prospective buyers. However, there are a few things you need to consider before creating your listing.

Our tips for successfully selling a building plot

Tip 1: Find out what kind of building plot it is

Not all land is the same and not every piece of land can be built on. To ensure that your sales brochure is comprehensive and appealing, you should find out as much information as you can about your land.

Can your land really be built on? This only applies if there’s a legally valid development plan for your land. If not, it may be an area designated for future development.

If your land is already connected to infrastructure (electricity, water and sewage), it’s considered to be building land. This means construction work can commence quickly, so you can sell building land for a much higher price than other land or land designated for future development.

The zoning plan and building regulations will reveal whether and how any property can be built on your land. For example, building regulations determine what kind of housing can be built on the land (detached homes, apartment blocks, etc.). Certain provisions, such as roof pitch and the height of the building, for example, can also affect the construction project.

You can obtain the zoning plan and building regulations from your local or municipal council.

Tip 2: determine a reasonable selling price for your building plot

The price of a building plot or piece of land is usually based on the current price per square metre in the respective location. There are enormous regional differences: in extremely affordable areas, you’ll pay between CHF 200 and 400 for one square metre of building land. But if you want to build in the city of Zurich, for example, this quickly rises to CHF 2,000 and over (just for the plot, without any buildings!).

The average price of one square metre of building land in Switzerland is CHF 600 to 800.

There are numerous websites for calculating and comparing the price of land. And you can also get a reliable estimate from your local land register.

In principle, the selling price for your building plot will depend on the following factors:

Type of building plot: A site for construction that’s already connected to infrastructure is more expensive than land designated for future development, for example.

Building regulations/code: Are there any plans or factors that may hinder a construction project (high water table, unsuitable ground, building regulations such as roof pitch or noise prevention measures)? These will have a negative impact on the price.

Location: Where is the land located (region and site)? Is it connected to the urban rail network? Are there schools and shops nearby and does it have access to good infrastructure? Land in low-tax cantons will also attract higher prices. 

Land-to-building ratio: One important number for valuing land is what’s known as the land-to-building ratio. This is the total permitted building area as a percentage of the total land area. Or in other words: on how many square metres of the land are buildings allowed to be constructed? The higher this number, the more valuable the land – because the developer can then be more flexible with the external dimensions of their building. You can ask your local planning department about the land-to-building ratio. Some cantons use storey area instead of the land-to-building ratio. This is the permitted number of storeys (including basements and lofts) for a construction project.

Tip 3: Prepare a detailed sales brochure

In preparation for your sale, you should create a clear, detailed report. You can use the information from tips 1 and 2 for this. In order to create trust and transparency, a sales brochure for a plot of land should also include the following points:

  • Location description
  • Use class
  • Shape and size
  • Sunlight and views
  • Zoning plan
  • Building regulations
  • Land-to-building ratio
  • Land register plan
  • Is the land already connected to infrastructure?
  • Risk map (flooding, avalanches, rock falls, etc.)
  • Photos

Tip 4: Costs incurred when selling land

A sale is all about making money, of course. But unfortunately, it’s impossible to sell land in Switzerland without there being any deductions. You’ll incur the following costs when selling a building plot:

Legal fees: The purchase contract must be authenticated by a solicitor. This can cost up to 0.5% of the purchase price. Legal fees can be shared between the buyer and seller.

Land register fees: An entry in the land register transfers the building plot to the new owner. This costs between 0.1% and 0.5% of the purchase price. These fees can also be shared between the buyer and seller.

Property transfer tax: Most cantons in Switzerland apply a property transfer tax when property or land is sold. Depending on the canton, this is between 1% and 3.3% of the purchase price. It’s usually paid by the buyer. Property transfer tax is only shared between the buyer and seller in the cantons of Baselland and Obwalden.

Capital gains tax: As the seller, you’re obliged to pay tax on the net profit from your land sale. In this context, the longer you’ve owned the land, the less tax you pay. So it may be worth waiting another few years before selling your land. If, for example, you’ve only owned the building plot for two years and the net profit from the sale is CHF 500,000, capital gains tax of CHF 190,000 may be due. After ten years, this would fall to around CHF 150,000. Tax rates vary from canton to canton.

List a building plot now

When you’ve gathered all the information and are aware of the costs involved, you can post your listing online. At Homegate, you can do this in just a few easy steps.