Moving home

Property and moving home: what to bear in mind during coronavirus

Source: iStock / AntonioGuillem

You're supposed to move home soon, but can the move take place in spite of the coronavirus crisis? Are moving and cleaning companies still operating? Do I have to pay the rent if I can’t move in yet? Comparis answers your questions on the subjects of property and moving home.

Are moving and cleaning companies allowed to operate without restriction again?

Yes, moving and cleaning companies may operate as usual again on the condition that they observe the health precautions issued by the FOPH. The removal staff must observe the minimum distance rule with respect to the customer. It is recommended that occupants considered to be high risk stay away from the home during moving and cleaning.

Are friends allowed to help with a move?

Yes, friends can help you with your move. If some of the friends do not know each other, you need to ensure traceability. Where possible, adhere to the current recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

I am a freelance sound engineer and have almost no work. Can I delay my rent payments?

It has been proposed that tenants of commercial premises should pay only 40% of their total rent if their business activities are interrupted or restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic, with landlords absorbing the remaining 60%. The Federal Council submitted this proposal for consultation (link available in German, French and Italian only).

How should I proceed if I want to sell my property?

At the moment, you can carry out any task provided you adhere to the health precautions issued by the Federal Council. Activities like publishing listings, producing a summary or completing administrative tasks can be done electronically. Property viewings can still be done in person – as long as the necessary health precautions are taken. Virtual viewings using video footage are an alternative option. Even in coronavirus-free times, it is not always easy to sell a property. Property owners wishing to sell should therefore do their research beforehand to ensure a successful sale.

What can history tell us about the effects of such a crisis on the property market?

Making predictions on the basis of past events can be tricky. After all, as American author Mark Twain is reputed to have said, “history doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes”. The coronavirus pandemic will almost certainly put pressure on property prices. To what extent depends primarily on the duration and intensity of the economic recession. Business and investment properties will probably be harder hit on average than owner-occupied homes. Experience shows that private home owners cut back on spending significantly in order to keep their apartment or house. In the housing market crisis at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, relatively few homes were repossessed or foreclosed in Switzerland. But as stated above: this will not necessarily apply to a future crisis.

If I am buying a property and would like to view it, how will that work now?

At the moment, property viewings do not fall under any of the Federal Council’s restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus. Anyone attending a viewing must observe the 1.5-metre distance rule. However, some estate agents are now declining to offer in-person viewings or are offering video footage instead.

Do you have any other questions about coronavirus? See our article on the subjects of health insurance, employment, pensions and travel. We also answer questions on the topics of continued payment of wages and mortgages.