If you want to fulfill the dream of owning your own home, one of the first decisions you will have to make is whether to buy a single-family house or a condominium? Many Swiss decide in favor of a condominium for financial reasons. With a condominium, unlike with a single-family house, the costs for the land and space are divided among several owners. For the same amount of money, condominium owners receive more living space than owners of single-family homes or a better quality property. In addition, they can design their unit to their individual tastes. However, any changes that impact the collective ownership must be approved by all owners.
The rights of condominium owners and the rights of the condominium owners’ association
As a condominium owner, you have the right to design and change your individual unit and to make it accessible for others to use. In doing so, you must simply ensure not to infringe on the interests of the other condominium owners. As a co-owner of the overall property, you have to clarify matters that impact the jointly owned parts of the land and building together with the other condominium owners. The collective ownership includes
- the grounds, garden and parking places
- load-bearing building components of the building such as walls, foundation, roof, girders
- all aspects that affect the appearance and outward design of the building
- parts of the building that are used by all owners, such as the staircase and the central heating
What to look out for when buying a condominium
If you decide to buy a condominium, you should carefully read important documents such as the condominium foundation deed, the extracts from the land register for the condominium unit as well as the master lot, the bylaws of the condominium owners’ association and the purchase agreement so that you can get a clear picture of what you are buying. It is also advisable that you look at the minutes of the most recent condominium owners’ association meetings, as they contain all the decisions made by the owners.
The same basic options that are available for buying a home are also available for purchasing a condominium. Whether a private loan, mortgage or financing with your own equity or pension fund assets – you should look carefully at the various financing options and mortgages available and select the best financing model for you. We also recommend that you obtain professional advice.
Key terminology for condominiums
- Condominium: A condominium is a part ownership of a property. Upon purchasing a condominium, the co-owner receives the special right to use certain parts of the building exclusively and individually fit the interior, provided it does not infringe on the rights of the other condominium owners.
- Condominium owners’ association: The condominium owners’ association is made up of all the co-owners; it uses, manages and maintains the common property. The association can sue and initiate debt enforcement proceedings in its own name, but can also be sued and made the object of such proceedings.
- Bylaws: The condominium bylaws describe the legal position of the individual condominium owners within the association. The bylaws contain rules and regulations decided by the owners’ association.
- Renovation fund: It is advisable for the condominium owners to create a renovation fund. Each condominium owner makes regular contributions to the fund. The amount of the contribution is defined by the condominium owners’ association meeting.
- Condominium board: To manage the jointly owned parts of the property and to handle the everyday business, the condominium owners’ association can create a condominium board. The condominium board’s duties and obligations are determined by the annual meeting of the condominium owners’ association and are described in the management agreement.
- Value: The value of a condominium reflects the share of the overall value of the property, or the “percentage interest,” represented by the unit in question. The percentage interest for each unit is set out in the foundation deed of the condominium.
- Joint costs: The costs for repairs and renovations of the parts of the property and building that are jointly held, compensation of the condominium board and ongoing maintenance are borne by the condominium owners on the basis of their percentage interest.