71,365 empty apartments in Switzerland – space for the city of Bern

14.09.2021

According to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), 1.54% of the apartments in Switzerland are vacant. This is the first decline in the vacancy rate in twelve years. This means that there is no housing shortage in Switzerland this year either. If two people lived in each of these apartments, there would be room for all residents of the city of Bern.

On June 1, 2021, 71,365 empty apartments were advertised. This means a decrease of 7,467 vacant apartments compared to the previous year, which mainly took place in the cantons of Aargau, Bern and Zurich. This means that we are slightly less than 1,000 apartments below the vacancy level of 2018 (72,294). There are particularly high vacancies in the cantons of Solothurn, Ticino, Appenzell Innerrhoden and Jura.

1-room apartments are driving the vacancy rate

The rental housing market is facing a new dynamic. The desire for larger living space has increased since the pandemic. The new working conditions are driving the Swiss to look for a bigger apartment so that they can work more from home. In fact, the vacancy rate for 1-room apartments has increased by 9.2% compared to the previous year. The vacancy rate fell the most for apartments with 4 (-16.5%) or more rooms (-20.7%).

Six out of seven vacant apartments are rental apartments

One seventh of the vacant apartments are advertised for sale. This means that the rental apartment segment in particular is affected by the vacancy rate. This continues to put pressure on rents. As can be seen from the monthly Swiss Real Estate Offer Index (SREOI) of the real estate consultancy IAZI and ImmoScout24, asking rents fell again by half a percent in August 2021. Another important reason for this is the low interest rates: for many investors, despite vacancies and falling rents, it is still more lucrative to invest in apartment buildings instead of investing their money elsewhere. While institutional investors such as pension funds can easily cope with a certain amount of vacancy, and even actively factor in it, the vacancy risk for private individuals who own only a few apartments is significantly higher.

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