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The Ticino real estate market

Luxusvilla Massagno, Tessin

What is the difference between first and second residence when buying property in Switzerland?

Many coveted holiday regions of the world include a large number of holiday apartments which are full in the high season and often empty in the off-season, with owners who pay little tax at these locations. Local communities provide and maintain an extensive infrastructure for these peak times.

Switzerland, and Ticino, enforce certain regulations for homeowners in the area:

  • If you want to spend most of your time in Ticino and Switzerland, you must move your main residence to your Swiss home.
  • If you are not Swiss and do not already live in Switzerland and wish to buy a large property in Ticino, you must also move your main residence here.
  • A second home (or vacation/holiday home) in Ticino is possible for those who are Swiss or already live in Switzerland and do not want to spend the majority of their time in Ticino. This is also possible for non-Swiss owners who live abroad and use their Ticino property for holidays only. These are limited to homes with a maximum of 200m2 of living space and 1000m2 of land.

A number of other provisions and special cases are possible, which we can share with you.

How have Ticino property prices developed in recent years?

Many luxury locations around the world often experience spectacular price changes for their properties within a short period of time; tripling or halving is not uncommon. This fluctuation does not apply to Ticino. For decades there has only been one trend: upwards. Slowly, but steadily. Land is scarce, building laws are restrictive, and housing requirements are constantly increasing. About every 20 years this picture is disturbed by a short, overheating phase which is then corrected with a noticeable drop in prices (such as in 1989 and 2015) when the market recovers to a more normal pace.

With boom-dampening measures, Swiss legislators are trying to keep the market in check through initiatives such as restricting construction zones, skimming profits when trading properties, prohibiting new buildings for holiday purposes, and enforcing a minimum holding period when owning holiday apartments. As usual for a democracy, these measures are clear, fairly balanced, and approved by a majority of the population. We would be happy to discuss the details of these measures.

What are luxury properties in Ticino?

The oldest luxury properties in Ticino are ornate, elegant palaces dating from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, built by the local nobility. They tell the story of a small, elite upper class of historical

A series of free-standing, expansive, classical villas were built in the 19th century by political exiles from around Europe. They tell the story of Ticino as a place of freedom and possibility.

From the end of the 19th century through the beginning of the 20th century, flamboyant villas, many with turrets and balconies, were built by Ticinese entrepreneurs who made their fortunes in places like Russia, Egypt, France, South America, North America, and Asia and returned home. These buildings tell the story of Ticio talent, bravery, and prosperity, and the emotional connection to home.

Architecture in Ticino fundamentally changed throughout the 20th century. Politics and the owner’s personal history were the motives for constructing luxury real estate, and most architecture has kept the beauty of the area as its focus. Wealthy individuals and families from all over Europe have built spectacular luxury villas in Ticino and southern Switzerland, drawn to the area because it is such a wonderful place to live. Renowned architects from around Europe were commissioned by well-known European families to create unique living spaces. These buildings document the beauty and quality of life in Ticino. And from 1970, Ticino also had an added bonus of discretion and security: from tax officers, political assassins, and banal criminals. This century tells the story of Ticino as not just a beautiful place but a safe, secure haven.

The second half of the 20th century was a renaissance for Ticinese architecture. Building on the centuries-old tradition of local master builders, a new, ultramodern school of “Ticino Architecture” attracted great attention and gained worldwide importance.

As we continue into the 21st century, a construction boom of elegant luxury villas defines Ticino as one of the most desirable residential areas in the world, and the area’s popularity is increasing every year.

Today, Wetag defines luxury properties as private villas or apartments with prices from CHF 3 million. Large apartments regularly reach CHF 10 million and expansive villas can reach CHF 25 million or more.

2nd home

Who are the buyers of luxury properties in Ticino?

For years, buyers of luxury properties in Ticino have been at least 50% foreigners, the rest Swiss. Foreigners include buyers from all over the world, Wetag has been able to serve customers from over 75 countries in the past 20 years. The largest share is held by buyers from Germany and Italy, from Scandinavia and Benelux, and from Eastern Europe, in a fairly homogeneous distribution. More than XX%(to check) of foreign buyers in the luxury segment at WETAG have their main residence in Ticino. Independent international entrepreneurs are heavily overrepresented professionally, the age of buyers in the luxury sector is becoming increasingly younger.

Would you like detailed information about the Ticino real estate market?

We would be happy to advise you personally and in detail. Just tell us how and when we can best reach you.

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