When selling a property, it is crucial to structure the sales process systematically in order to avoid potential stumbling blocks. One common mistake is to enter negotiations with an inflated price; another is to keep quiet about potential defects in the property.

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Every year, tens of thousands of detached houses, flats and plots of land change hands in Switzerland. Many owners jump into selling their property without thinking the matter through, then get into difficulties. That is because the whole business is a major undertaking and requires a great deal of specialist expertise.

Tip number 1: Pick the right time of year

You need to think in advance about the best time to sell a house. Experience shows that the middle of winter and around the Christmas season is not a good time. Unless you are under time pressure for some reason, you are better advised to schedule the sale of a house for spring or summer.

Moreover, supply and demand change continually. A specialist such as an experienced client advisor from your bank, an estate agent or broker will be able to advise you on this. One of the first steps is to consider the state of the market in the property cycle. Are prices stable or are they likely to rise in the next few years? If you are not in any great hurry, property can usually be rented out for a limited period. Professional support on such important issues is worth serious money. 

Remember, patience and negotiating skills are needed. Of course we often read that a new house in certain part of the city was sold in no time and at a good price. But the fact is that not every house will command a top price.

Tip number 2: Define your target group and involve a knowledgeable adviser

Depending on the location and condition of the property, the seller should define a realistic price. It needs to be clear who is the target purchaser, what message is to be communicated and through which channels. Furthermore, there are many aspects to a property transaction. Those with no clear idea of how to structure the negotiations are liable to be at a disadvantage.

Experience or at least prior knowledge in dealing with solicitors, land registry offices and banks is also important. Inexperienced laymen may quickly find themselves at their wits’ end. That can leave a bad impression on potential purchasers. It is therefore important to prepare thoroughly and to proceed in a structured manner. Otherwise you run the risk of not achieving the main objective – of selling the house at a good price.

Therefore consider self-critically whether you want to manage the sale yourself or entrust the matter to a professional estate agent. Estate agents can assist in the professional marketing, sale or rental of property and bring in expertise and market knowledge.

Tip number 3: Structure the sales process

There are hundreds of methods and ways to initiate the sale of a house. To take an example: Perhaps the owner of a flat involved in a condominium agreement wants to sell his flat and already knows potential purchasers who are prepared to pay a fair market price. That presupposes however that comparable prices exist for similar flats.

Another approach is: The seller commissions a professional appraisal of the property and therefore enters the market on the basis of a solid valuation. A third variant which is often used is the auction method. The seller or his broker determines a certain order of magnitude in the sense of a starting price or a minimum price. From this point on, interested parties are invited to submit bids according to a predefined procedure. This bidding process often takes two or even three rounds. Finally, the highest bid is accepted.

A first important insight: If you want to sell a house or flat, you have to come up with a plan. Of course, this also includes many other aspects, such as the choice of advertising materials, thoughts on the target group and the advertisement, ideas on the sales contract, etc.

Tip number 4: Define a realistic sales price

Of course, the top and bottom of this is the valuation of your property. Especially in the case of a private home or one’s own flat, however, this is anything but easy. Some owners have personally invested a lot of money, time and effort in their property and tend to overestimate its quality. But when potential purchasers stand back and look at a property that is no longer brand new they will tend to notice the weaknesses rather than the strengths.

In addition, every house and every flat is highly individual. There are hardly ever two objects that are really identical in terms of condition, interior design, size and location. But in the absence of relevant comparisons it is not easy to estimate the value correctly.

So beware: If you overprice your property you may receive no response at all. And if you value the property too cheaply, you will be swamped by a large number of interested parties. This will demand a great deal of effort, but not necessarily lead to a successful sale. It would make a bad impression if in hindsight you then ratchet up your price expectations 10 or 20 per cent.

Generally people feel compelled to seek a professional estimate of their home. An estimated valuation for a house might cost 1,000 to 1,500 Swiss Francs. That is only a rough rule of thumb. There are service providers, brokers and estate agents who may offer a cheaper service or even a free service. But one must bear in mind that soundly based expertise, appropriate qualifications and broad market knowledge are necessary to produce a reliable estimated valuation. The quality of the property and the current market situation also play a critical role. Convincing sales documentation, skilful negotiation and addressing a wide range of potential prospects will help you sell your house at a good price.

Tip number 5: Develop professional documentation

The next step, which is to create sales documentation, initially seems simple. But beware: The rule is that first impressions count! If you create a bad impression with mediocre photos and missing or inaccurate information, this will put off prospective purchasers rather than attract them. The documentation and the entire sales dossier must therefore be prepared very thoroughly and with great care. So what points must be covered in the documentation? The following points are particularly important:

  • A detailed description of the terms and conditions of sale and particulars of the transaction
  • Floor plan
  • Elevations
  • Zoning plan
  • Situation plan
  • Good photos of the interior and exterior of the property and the surrounding area.

A picture is worth a thousand words! Ask for advice on how to best to present your property. It is often an advantage to offer additional things and use digital tool, such as a 3D tour of your house. Find more information with examples and booking form: Real estate recordings

In addition, of course, there are texts and written descriptions that represent the object factually and informatively. This includes information on location, transport links, shopping, cultural facilities, sports and leisure facilities, schools, etc.

Sometimes more information is needed, for example in the case of flats involved in a condominium agreement or when the financing bank needs additional information.

Once all the documents are available as desired, take the big step: Publish your request for offers! It is best to place your advertisement on a property platform on the Internet. This is the route most frequently chosen in the digitalisation process. Newhome offers you the choice between a single placement at a fixed term or the FLEX subscription with discount for the number of days the placement will appear for owners and companies with multiple properties on offer. It is important that the advertisement is complete and professional. Because remember: Your offer should stand out positively and also give a good impression at first glance. Potential purchasers are attracted if they can quickly get an impression and gain a concrete idea of those for whom the house is suitable and for whom it is not. These do’s and don’ts will help you advertise: Writing an advertisement for your flat: Do’s and Don’ts

It is also important to be active and seem really serious. If either you cannot be reached or are difficult to reach, if you do not respond to requests and seem to delay the whole matter, you will diminish your chances of success.

You must also keep a record of whether or not your efforts are yielding the expected results.

If your advertisement generates only moderate interest, it is advisable not to keep it in publication for too long. An advertisement that appears for an excessively long period begins to resemble a shopkeeper advertising their wares. You should also be careful before changing any material information or the target price quickly. Since the advertisement is a document in the public domain, hasty adjustments could cast your bid in an unfavourable light, suggesting it may not be well thought through or even misplaced.

Tip number 7: Offer plenty of viewing opportunities

Despite digitization, virtual tours and good photos – potential purchasers will want to view the property in person. As a rule, it’s better to walk serious prospective purchasers through your house one by one and take your time.

You should plan at least one hour for a successful viewing of your house. An experienced HEV Zurich employee says: “In my experience, it is very important to respond to questions from the interested parties rather than to praise the property in the highest terms.” The sales professional also recommends: You have to prepare thoroughly in advance and “think about what questions might be posed.”

It is critical that potential purchasers have the confidence that no defects or important information have been withheld. If unexpected weaknesses in the technical installations or roof construction suddenly come to light, the interested party may simply walk away. Credible communication and negotiation are key to making a successful sale of your home.

When dealing with potential purchasers, remember that they will need time. Perhaps they are thrashing out plans for a conversion, perhaps they need to talk to their bank and take out a mortgage; many such issues can arise. 

As a potential sales success approaches, you need to think carefully about what the next step will be. Should the deciding factor be simply the highest price that was offered? Or do you care about other criteria? If this is a family home where you grew up, emotional considerations often come into play. However, when finally deciding which offer to accept, you should not act purely on your gut feeling. Perhaps you find yourself in sympathy with some interested parties who assert they wish to move in to make it a family home. But it is not always possible to assess objectively what the true background of this interest is. In hindsight, it may turn out that you didn’t really get on with each other so well after all.

Tip number 8: Formulate the contract professionally

There comes a point in every sale of a house when we have to venture on to difficult terrain – and deal with the legal contractual issues.

When selling a house, it is often unclear what form a fair and comprehensible purchase contract should take. The truth is that most laypeople are quite unable to draw up a sales contract or even formulate a draft that satisfies the formal and legal requirements. As a rule, a solicitor, an authenticator or a notary will be instructed to draw up the contract. Nevertheless, as a seller, you have the opportunity to incorporate your wishes and ideas into the contract. In some cantons there is a quasi-official person (the notary of the city or municipality) responsible for this. Private notaries are common in some cantons. 

Of course, both you as a seller and also the purchaser must be allowed time to study the contract in detail. It may be that some points are still in the process of negotiation: These may include the method of handover, whether certain improvements and cleaning work are to be carried out, etc. In addition, there are details on taxes (tax on the capital gain attributable to the plot of land), settlement of ancillary costs, fees or also guarantees associated with capital gain attributable to the plot of land.

The best way to do this is to accept the technical advice of the notary. Often, the bank which is involved can help with technical issues. If, as is almost always the case, there is still a current mortgage on the house, questions about the financing and if necessary repayment of mortgages must be considered and negotiated at an early stage.

Tip number 9: Secure payment of the purchase price

For a seller, it is particularly important that the purchaser proves his solvency. After all, this isn’t a small-scale transaction! Especially in parts of the country where purchase prices exceed 1 million Swiss Francs and more, this assurance is crucial.

It is customary for the purchaser to present an irrevocable promise of payment issued by a Swiss bank. If there are specific questions arise, or if the payment is subject to further conditions, it is essential that you seek professional advice. The competent official notary or private notary is the right point of contact for this.

Sometimes, the promise of payment may not be in this form. But one way or another you must insist on getting a reasonable assurance that the purchaser will actually pay the purchase price. In a nutshell: You must be guaranteed that the notary or the land registry will not enter the new owner into the land register until you have received the purchase price in full.

Tip number 10: Manage the guarantee and handover

Finally, it is necessary to regulate exactly how the property is to be handed over. Is there still some cleaning or renovation to be performed? What about the state of the garden and surroundings? – On this point, too, we need to think about money. Liability for ongoing costs for insurance, maintenance, ancillary costs, heating, electricity, etc. must be split between the parties.

Especially in the case of older buildings there may be discussions as to whether and to what extent the seller of the property may be liable for any defects. In the case of newer buildings, there are usually still guarantees from suppliers and contractors. However, if the building was erected longer ago, the seller of course does not want to be held liable for defects. In that case however this must be stated explicitly in the purchase contract. It is then up to the purchaser to check the house thoroughly before buying it.

In summary: The house handover marks the transition from one owner to the next and should therefore be well planned and structured. With transparent communication and clear agreements, you can complete a successful home sale that is satisfactory to all parties involved.

Questions and answers (FAQ):

When is the best time to sell my house?

Spring and summer are ideal as demand is higher. Seek advice from an expert.

A professional valuation helps you determine a realistic price. Avoid pricing too high or too low.

You need floor plans, building elevations, zoning plans, situation plans and high-quality photos. Complete sales documentation is important.

Use property platforms on the internet and make sure your advertisement is complete and appealing.

Plase a listing now

Offer individual viewings and take the time to respond to the questions of the interested parties.

Have the contract created by a notary or lawyer. It should include all the details of handover, taxes and liabilities.

Request an irrevocable promise of payment from a bank to ensure the purchaser’s solvency.

Clarify the liability for defects in the purchase contract. For older homes, purchasers should check the property thoroughly before buying.

Create professional sales documentation and publish an appealing advertisement. Organize viewings carefully.

Consider whether you want to hire an estate agent. Agents contribute expertise and market knowledge that can facilitate the sales process.

Ten tips for successful home sales:

1. Determine the right time:

Sell your house in spring or summer as demand is higher. Seek expert advice to determine the optimum timing.

Determine who is a purchaser and rely on the right marketing channels. Expertise in negotiations is an advantage.

Plan the sales process carefully. Decide whether to sell privately, have the object valued or choose a bidding process.

Have your property professionally valued in order to determine a market price. A price that is too high or too low can discourage interested parties.

Create detailed sales documentation with high quality photos, floor plans and important information about the property.

Find more information with examples and booking form: Real estate recordings


Advertise your property on property platforms and make sure the advertisement is complete and appealing. Be active and accessible to interested parties.

Newhome offers you the choice between a single placement at a fixed term or the FLEX subscription with discount for the number of days the placement will appear for owners and companies with multiple properties on offer. It is important that the advertisement is complete and professional.

Offer opportunities for individual viewing and take time to answer any questions the prospective purchaser may have. Transparent communication is crucial.

Have the purchase contract drawn up by a notary or lawyer and make sure all details are clear, including taxes and handover arrangements.

Request an irrevocable promise of payment from a bank to guarantee the purchaser’s solvency.

Clarify how the property will be handed over and what guarantees will remain in force. Divide the running costs between the parties and document everything in a contract.