Europe

Switzerland

Real Estate


Switzerland : AN INTRODUCTION

Contributed by Baur Hürlimann

The Swiss construction and real estate industries are also flourishing in 2014. According to the most recent data from the Swiss National Bank, real estate prices turned out to be about as strong in the first quarter of 2014 as they were last year. The construction industry, however, enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2013 (sales rose by 4.9% to CHF 19.9 billion). This boom can be primarily explained by two factors: The Swiss economy has proven to be much more robust during the European debt crisis than the economies of the EU countries, and demand for housing by Switzerland’s continuously high number of immigrants has remained constant. As a result of Switzerland’s substantial population growth, it is now planning major infrastructure investments that may lead to a high volume of future orders for the construction industry.

Credit Suisse study 

Although the most recent study by Credit Suisse says that the Swiss real estate market is stable, it also suggests that there are signs that it has already peaked. The study projects a soft landing, not a crash, given the persistently low mortgage rates and continuing high demand for residential property, and despite falling prices for expensive residential (even in hotspots like Zurich) and commercial properties. The fundamental data will not change until interest rates have returned to normal, regardless of stricter regulation and the first mortgage rate hikes.

Intervention by the Swiss National Bank 

According to the Swiss National Bank, the imbalances have become even more exaggerated in the mortgage and real estate market for residential properties. At its prompting, the Federal Council decided in January 2014 to raise the counter-cyclical capital buffer introduced in the previous year. However, since banks are not interested in further self-regulation (despite a revision of these rules), the Swiss National Bank is apparently considering other measures, such as a compulsory amortization of mortgages up to the 5% interest rate.

Joint and several liability introduced for primary contractors

As a result of the free movement of persons between Switzerland and the European Union, a regulation was introduced to make primary contractors potentially liable for the wage and working conditions of all sub-contractors. This regulation increases the primary contractor’s administrative costs. After a few remarkable cases of offences, the new regulation has definitely become more widely accepted.

The mass immigration initiative and its impacts 

On February 9, 2014, the Swiss voted in favour of the mass immigration initiative, whose stated goal is to regulate immigration on the basis of a quota system. The general feeling is that this initiative will be difficult, if not impossible, to harmonize with the agreement with European Union on the free movement of persons. The referendum has elicited fears in Switzerland and abroad about continued cooperation between Switzerland and the EU. However, prior to implementation, it is impossible to know whether and how much this decision will adversely affect the current construction and real estate boom.

New push in parliament toward a tighter Lex Koller 

The Swiss parliament currently has two motions that would require a tighter Lex Koller. If they go through, foreigners would no longer be allowed to purchase properties for commercial use. Foreigners would also be prohibited from purchasing real estate stocks or shares in real estate funds. The fact that the government and one chamber of parliament have adopted these motions has gone almost unnoticed by the public. The other chamber of parliament is now debating them.

Both of these motions point to a significant development: While many government institutions, especially the Federal Council, were in favour of repealing the Lex Koller up until just a few years ago, there is now a broader consensus that this law is necessary to curb the continuing high demand for real estate and related price trend. However, now that the Lex Koller could be tightened, many critics in the construction industry have raised their voices, particularly in reaction to the general trend towards an increasingly stricter regulatory environment.

Uncertain developments with greater regulation 

After the Swiss voted in favour of the second home initiative on March 11, 2012, the government enacted an ordinance on January 1, 2013 that sets the quota for issuing second home building permits in communes at just over 20%. It is impossible to project how this legislation will impact the construction industry, especially in the mountain cantons that draw tourists.

Other trends toward tightening the regulatory environment for companies operating in Switzerland have also been observed. Several referendums are about to be held that will have an impact on the construction and real estate markets. One such example is the Ecopop initiative (goal: cap annual net immigration at 0.2% of Switzerland’s permanent resident population). If this bill is passed, it may have a negative effect on the continued development of the Swiss construction and real estate markets.

 

Real Estate - Switzerland

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第一等 |

Basic facts about the department
- 5 partners
- 14 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Transaction-focused real estate group that has expertise across the full range of topics, such as large development projects, acquisitions and managing real estate portfolios. Well versed in setting up real estate asset management structures, and has considerable knowledge of the hotel sector.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"If I have the opportunity I really like to work with this team. The lawyers have great people skills and are very proactive."

Work highlights Advised Aerium Properties on the build-to-suit and lease of a school campus.

Notable practitioners  

Martin Furrer co-heads the real estate transaction and banking and finance group. He is commended for being business-oriented and for "coming up with creative solutions for difficult issues in transactions."

Alexander Wyss "is technically very skilled, and also constructive when it comes to bringing a deal together," according to sources. As well as acting on a range of real estate transactions he is known for his focus on real estate funds, and co-heads the real estate transaction group.

Daniel Peregrina is a partner in the Geneva office. He often advises on the public law aspects of real estate developments, and his abilities on contentious real estate mandates are highlighted.

Clients say they appreciate Franz Schenker's dedicated attitude to transactions and his responsiveness. Market commentators particularly praise his expertise in construction matters.

Significant clients Credit Suisse, Fundamenta Group, PSP Swiss Property, Alony Hetz Properties, Swiss Finance & Property.

第一等 |

Basic facts about the department
- 10 partners
- 10 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Widely regarded as a market leader in Swiss real estate. Offers long-standing experience across a variety of matters, with a strong transactional slant to the practice. Counts many institutional investors as clients. Exceptional corporate/M&A and banking and finance teams ensure in-depth expertise on the largest transactions.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"One reason why we are so pleased with Bär & Karrer is because the service is excellent! I don't just mean that they are very fast and timely, but also that the lawyers have such a depth of knowledge."

Work highlights Assisted SK Capital with the real estate aspects of its acquisition of Clariant's textile chemicals, paper chemicals and emulsions business.

Notable practitioners  

Corrado Rampini heads the real estate group. "He is one of the best real estate lawyers in Switzerland," affirm sources. One client says: "When circumstances heat up he is very good at keeping a calm exterior – this is certainly of value during negotiations."

Significant clients Swiss Prime Site, Mobimo, Orascom Development Holding, Swissgrid.

第一等 |

 Basic facts about the department
- 11 partners
- 21 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for A robust real estate offering that enjoys a premier reputation, and is a regular presence on the most high-profile real estate transactions. Works closely with the tax team to advise on real estate taxation matters. Also known for its real estate financing abilities. Clients include real estate funds, sovereign wealth funds, HNWIs and major retail brands.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"This is an excellent team." 

What's new? Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Nirwana International are amongst the firm's new client wins.  

Work highlights Advised Nirwana International on the CHF90 million sale of the former industrial site Riverside Business Park. This cross-border deal involved four jurisdictions.

Assisted Durango Switzerland with the sale of its Swiss commercial real estate portfolio.

Notable practitioners  

Johannes Bürgi has much experience of assisting with real estate transactions that have a strong financing or capital markets aspect.

The "amazing" Francis Nordmann led the team that advised Durango Switzerland on the sale of its commercial Swiss real estate portfolio. He has a primarily transactional real estate practice, and is highlighted for his real estate finance work in particular.

Thomas Meister heads the tax team, and is also known for his adept handling of real estate matters.

Significant clients Situs Asset Management, Geneva Management Group, ING Real Estate Germany, JB Real Estate, Hugo Boss.

Band 2 | CMS

第二等 |

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 5 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Successful real estate practice that acts for an enviable client list of institutional investors, major corporations and international hotel brands. Handles a lot of work in the hotel and leisure industry, including hotel management issues. Covers the full spectrum of real estate work, including asset transfer, sale and leaseback, and restructuring mortgage loans.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"This team is very proactive, and also very precise in its written work."

Work highlights Advised Credit Suisse Funds, acting for Credit Suisse Real Estate Fund Hospitality, on the acquisition of three hotel properties.

Notable practitioners  

Department head Stefan Gerster is considered to be a key practitioner in the market. "He is always available and provides helpful, straightforward advice," say sources. Gerster is a certified SBA real estate and construction specialist.

Sibylle Schnyder has been busy of late assisting with matters such as acquisitions and development projects. She advises domestic and international clients.

Significant clients Acron, SPS Immobilien, Pramerica Overseas Funding. 

第二等 |

Basic facts about the department
- 6 partners
- 9 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Solid real estate and construction offering that covers matters such as planning and zoning, sales and acquisitions, project development and portfolio transactions. Close links to tax and dispute resolution departments ensure strength in contentious mandates and real estate taxation.

Work highlights Advised Wyatt Estates II on the due diligence, negotiation and acquisition of an office and retail building owned by HSBC through a Swiss corporation.

Notable practitioners  

Yves Jeanrenaud heads the nationwide real estate and construction group. Sources highlight his construction and projects work, which he handles as part of a broad real estate practice.

Zürich department head Josef Caleff is praised by interviewees for his abilities on the most complex of transactions. "He quickly isolates the problems and is able to give us solutions," say clients.

Significant clients Güris, Züblin Immobilien Holding, Barana Group, Rockspring Property Investment Managers, Al-Waha Contracting & Trading Company.

第三等 |

What the team is known for Primarily known for its expertise in construction, where it is widely regarded as one of the leading names in Switzerland. Also acts on various real estate mandates. Assists with contentious and non-contentious matters.

Notable practitioners  

Roland Hürlimann's construction practice is acclaimed by interviewees. He often acts on construction litigation and arbitrations.

第三等 |

What the team is known for A broad real estate practice that handles matters from planning and zoning to financing and acquisitions. Highlighted for its dynamic approach and strong client care skills. Clients include investors and big-name corporations.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"The lawyers are very responsive regardless if it is a big or small case. What I appreciate the most is the concise way in which they carry out their analysis of a problem."

"BCCC is a breath of fresh air."  

Notable practitioners  

Yves de Coulon is praised by clients for being "responsive, efficient and accurate." His experience of handling international transactions is also commended, as is his strong network of connections. One client says: "He is great to have on your side. He's intelligent, flexible, and listens to what you want."

Managing partner and head of the corporate/M&A department Manuel Bianchi della Porta often advises on real estate transactions.

第三等 |

Basic facts about the department
- 8 partners
- 18 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for A large group based in Zürich and Geneva that is often instructed by clients on real estate matters. Regularly handles sale and leasebacks, large-scale acquisitions and lease transactions, and has considerable real estate taxation expertise.

Notable practitioners  

Andreas Rötheli heads the department in Geneva. He led the team that advised GEMS Education on establishing its first international private school in Switzerland, which included assisting with matters such as build-to-suit and lease agreements. 

Zürich group head Beat Kühni is one of the firm's key real estate practitioners. He also advises on private equity and corporate/M&A law.

第三等 |

Basic facts about the department
- 7 partners
- 10 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Maintains a solid reputation in real estate law. Known for its transactional strength, its abilities in real estate financing, and its handling of tax matters related to real estate. Frequently advises on tenancy law. Clients include major banks and funds.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"I would definitely use this team again. The lawyers are solution-oriented, pragmatic and helpful in negotiations."

Work highlights Acted as counsel to Credit Suisse, UBS and Zürcher Kantonalbank, as joint lead managers and bookrunners, on real estate investment company Swiss Prime Site's CHF349 million rights offering.

Assisting Eichhof Immobilien with developing an old industrial site.

Notable practitioners  

The "fantastic" Andreas Vögeli heads the department. Interviewees praise him for being "clear, focused and knowledgeable," and highlight his commercial nous and negotiating skills.

Significant clients AXA, UBS, RUAG Real Estate, Peach Property Group, Schroders.

Band 4 | Homburger

第四等 |

What the team is known for Multidisciplinary team that is drawn from departments such as dispute resolution, corporate/M&A and competition. Handles a comprehensive amount of real estate matters for an impressive clientele.

Work highlights Advised Brooks Automation on the sale of three long-term ground leases and the adjustment of easements.

Notable practitioners  

Corporate partner Frank Gerhard is a key contact for real estate transactions.

Significant clients Alpiq, Fairmont Hotels, Metall Zug.  

第四等 |

Basic facts about the department
- 8 partners
- 6 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Handles real estate work for international and domestic clients. Busy with acquisitions, advising on Lex Koller, and real estate financings. Founders of the Zürich Association of Business Tenants.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"Pragmatic and to the point advice."   

Notable practitioners  

Alexander Vogel plays a prominent role in the real estate team. His practice also encompasses banking and finance and corporate/M&A.

Armin Zucker is known for his expertise in lease and tenant law. He is an associate judge at the Rental Court Zürich.

Significant clients Allreal Holding, Immofinanz, Strabag, Verenahof.  

Band 4 | Pestalozzi

第四等 |

Basic facts about the department
- 2 partners
- 3 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Practice covers real estate and environment law. Strong standalone team, but works closely with other departments when necessary. Advises private clients, investors and corporations.

Work highlights Advises Ronald McDonald Children’s Foundation on the purchase and lease of various properties to be used as temporary accommodation by people closely related to ill children.

Notable practitioners  

Anne-C Imhoff and Michael Lips co-head the department.

Significant clients Johnson & Johnson, Ronald McDonald House Charities, McDonald's Switzerland, Noble Corporation.

Other Ranked Lawyers 其他上榜律师

Delphine Zarb of Geneva firm Lachat Harari & Associés is a noted name in this field. She advises on real estate, construction and public procurement matters, amongst a range of areas.

Thomas Wetzel of Wenger Plattner is highlighted for his considerable real estate experience. He also advises on construction mandates.

Foreign Experts

Foreign Experts are individuals with expertise in a different jurisdiction to the one they are based in. These individuals are particularly highly regarded for international and cross-border work. Usually, they will be identified in the jurisdiction in which they are based and in their country of expertise.

Senior Statesman

A 'Senior Statesman' is a lawyer who no longer works hands-on with the same intensity but who, by virtue of close links with major clients, remains pivotal to the firm’s success.

Eminent Practitioners

'Eminent Practitioners' are highly influential lawyers in a particular practice area who, due to managerial or client relationship commitments, are less active in day-to-day work but remain key players in the team.

Other Noted Practitioners

Other Noted Practitioners are individuals who have not yet been ranked but are seen to be active and accomplished in this area of law.

Other Noted Firms

Other Noted Firms are firms that have not yet been ranked but are seen to be active and accomplished in this area of law.