70 percent of Zurich houses are under-occupied

70 percent of Zurich houses are under-occupied

A new report by the Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB) has revealed that 70 percent of single-family homes in Zurich are under-occupied. They said that the cost of buying a house in Switzerland has meant many couples and individuals are keeping their large houses, long after the kids have left.

One in seven large houses in Zurich is occupied by single person

The report found that many people in Switzerland are reluctant to give up their larger homes and downsize, with 70 percent of houses in Canton Zurich being under-occupied. The ZKB define under-occupancy as when there are more rooms than people living in a house, plus one extra room.

One in seven homes in Switzerland’s largest city are only occupied by one person, the majority of whom are people in retirement. The Goldcoast areas of Zollikon, Zumikon, Küsnacht and Herrliberg had the highest under-occupancy rate, with up to 83 percent of houses and apartments being underutilized.

People in Zurich reluctant to sell their houses

ZKB explained that the reluctance of people to move to smaller houses is driving house prices up and preventing first-time buyers from getting on the housing market. Money plays a strong role in under-occupancy, as many older people have seen their houses dramatically increase in value over the last 20 years and don't want to let go of the asset.

To people wanting to buy a house in Switzerland for the first time, the ZKB said, “That goal is moving even further into the distance.” According to Ursina Kubli, Head of Real Estate Research at ZKB, those who already own homes are given a huge advantage because of the high demand and inflated prices.

Too many houses in Switzerland converted to rentals

Another issue is that many single-family homes are being bought by companies and developed into houses and apartments to rent. ZKB estimated that between 300 and 400 single-family homes have been demolished in the canton since 2016, while 5 percent of houses in the city of Zurich have simply "disappeared." By 2022, it is predicted that demolitions of single homes will outpace the number of new builds in the canton for the first time ever.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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