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Most Swiss empty-nesters not planning to downsize

Summary:
Switzerland has one of the world’s tightest housing markets. Vacancy rates in cantons like Geneva (0.42%) and Zurich (0.53%) are extremely low. By comparison, the rate in New York City (1.4%) is around three times higher. The vacancy rate across Switzerland (1.15%) as a whole is lower than NYC. © Fizkes | Dreamstime.comWith such a shortage of housing, one hope is that more family homes will come on the market as the population ages and people downsize. However, a report by Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) published this week is not encouraging. Most empty nesters, parents whose children have grown up and moved out, are not planning to downsize. The report is based on the results of survey of parents with adult children with an average age of 65. While 11% of this group

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Switzerland has one of the world’s tightest housing markets. Vacancy rates in cantons like Geneva (0.42%) and Zurich (0.53%) are extremely low. By comparison, the rate in New York City (1.4%) is around three times higher. The vacancy rate across Switzerland (1.15%) as a whole is lower than NYC.

Most Swiss empty-nesters not planning to downsize
© Fizkes | Dreamstime.com

With such a shortage of housing, one hope is that more family homes will come on the market as the population ages and people downsize. However, a report by Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) published this week is not encouraging. Most empty nesters, parents whose children have grown up and moved out, are not planning to downsize.

The report is based on the results of survey of parents with adult children with an average age of 65. While 11% of this group said they plan to downsize, 70% said they had no plans to move.

38% of empty-nesters had more than two extra rooms in their homes. Among home owners the rate was 61%.

The low desire to downsize seems to have a two key underlying drivers. The first is perception. Only 26% of the survey group felt their home was too large. Extra rooms are often not viewed as unnecessary. Having an extra room for a home office was typically viewed positively.

There are often also financial disincentives to move house in Switzerland. Rental laws that make it difficult to increase rents are a double edged sword. Those on old rental contracts often pay rent well below the current market rate. In such cases moving to smaller place could end up costing more. Why pay more to live in a smaller home?

In addition, the idea that older people should make way for younger people with families didn’t resonate with many of those surveyed. Only one in three thought this was a relevant consideration.

More on this:
ZHAW report (in German)

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