Home Looking in Switzerland: A 17th-Century Farm With Bauhaus Updates


This wine farm from the 17th century, consisting of three renovated half-timbered houses with a view of the lake, is located on two thirds of a hectare in the city of Wädenswil, about 24 km south of Zurich in northern central Switzerland.

Listed as a protected historic monument, the winery – including a farmhouse, a former cheese house, and a former timber-framed wine press building with facades criss-crossed by exposed wooden beams – has been renovated to add Bauhaus features and contemporary amenities, said Vivien Engler, owner and managing director of Engel & Völkers Zürichsee Freienbach, who has the listing.

“In the years 1939-40 the house was completely renovated and rebuilt by the Bauhaus architect Hans Fischli, one of the founders of Swiss modernism,” she said. “Then the house was renovated to a high standard from 2006 to 2010, keeping the Bauhaus elements and the original appearance of the farmhouse.”

Much of the property is currently used as an office and conference room, but can easily be converted for residential purposes, Ms. Engler said. The 4,069 square meter farmhouse, built around 1693, has four levels and a basement with parquet, tile, and stone floors. The house could be used with the main living areas, kitchen and terrace on the ground floor and eight bedrooms above, or with an attic apartment on the top two floors where there is a second kitchen, Ms. Engler said. Furniture is not included in the offer price, but is negotiable.

The main entrance opens to a foyer that leads to a gallery and living area with double high ceilings. Along the gallery, above which there is a mezzanine, there are double doors that lead to a spacious living room that opens onto a terrace overlooking a green lawn with hydrangeas. At the end of the gallery there is a staircase and kitchen next to a dining room. The country-style kitchen has tiled floors, heavy beams, a butler sink and a La Cornue range.

A staircase leads to the basement, which has separate entrances that lead to two large rooms with stone walls and vaulted ceilings. An adjoining wine cellar is currently equipped with a bar counter as a tasting room.

The second floor has a mezzanine floor with office space overlooking the gallery as well as a bathroom and up to four bedrooms. On the third floor is the master bedroom with a built-in wardrobe down a hallway near a reading room and a bathroom with a claw-foot tub. The third floor has another bedroom and kitchen with rustic wood walls and ceilings and a decorative old-fashioned stove. The top floor has a large living area with dining space that is spanned by heavy wooden beams, as well as a ladder to a small loft that can be used as an office or bedroom, Ms. Engler said.

The 495 square meter former cheese house is now used as a two-story apartment. A spiral staircase leads from the combined living and sleeping area to a lower level with a small kitchen, dining area and bathroom. A wood stove heats the house.

The 2,982 square meter former wine press building was restored with natural stone walls and wooden beams. An antique wine press is on the ground floor, offices and a bathroom on the second floor. The room on the top floor with a bar is used for conferences.

The landscaped property has parking for four cars and a pavilion with internet access by a small stream. It is located in a quiet area near the center of Wädenswil, a town with around 25,000 inhabitants on Lake Zurich. Boating and water sports are popular activities, as is golfing at the nearby Golf & Country Club Schönenberg, Ms. Engler said. The city of Zurich with around 434,000 inhabitants is a 15-minute drive away. Zurich Airport, which is easy to reach by car or train, is about 32 km to the north.

The real estate market in Switzerland, the Central European landlocked nation of dramatic lakes and mountains with around 8.5 million inhabitants, is extremely attractive for international investors due to its stability and tax advantages. Despite low interest rates, soaring property prices have made it inaccessible to many aspiring buyers, and strict restrictions on foreigners make buying it difficult.

The global pandemic hit Switzerland hard – when vaccinations started there in December, its infection rate remained higher than the UK, France, Italy or Spain – but it appears to have avoided its worst economic impact.

“Despite the serious incidents and high mortality rates, the residential real estate market in Switzerland had only limited effects,” said Tobias Just, Professor at the International Real Estate Business School at the University of Regensburg. “Given the very low bond yields, investors have diverted capital to properties that are looking for a safe haven.”

Zurich-based consulting firm Wüest Partner estimates that the country’s gross domestic product will have shrunk by 3.3 percent in 2020, but predicts a significant recovery in 2021, also because the Swiss real estate market continues to attract international investors. “At the beginning of 2020 there were of course uncertainties, but residential investments picked up again quickly and the banks continued to finance residential real estate,” said Just.

Despite the worsening pandemic, Swiss real estate prices for condominiums rose by 5.1 percent by the end of 2020 and for single-family houses by 5.4 percent, according to Wüest Partner.

“The year 2020 did not start well, but in the second half of the year the demand for real estate increased sharply and in the end the Swiss real estate market closed positively,” said Simon Incir, owner and managing director of Engel & Volkers Lugano-Sottoceneri. “We expect an even better year in 2021. With the introduction of smart working, real estate has grown in importance and people value their living space more.”

Foreigners can only buy second homes in the tourist areas of Switzerland such as St. Moritz, Gstaad, Verbier and some areas on Lake Lucerne, said Ms. Engler. In other areas such as the Greater Zurich Area, Zug or Lake Geneva, foreigners are usually in the country to work and have to make Switzerland their main residence in order to buy real estate.

“Since buyers need a Swiss residence permit, they are usually already here, so the pandemic has not had a negative impact on demand,” she said. “However, the effects on the rental market were strong, as no new workers were allowed into the country. “

Likewise, international buyers were “not so flexible about on-site visits,” said Nina Demuth, real estate professional at Zurich Sotheby’s International Realty. “That is why we have developed a better tool for virtual reality viewings so that we can offer our customers abroad a first glimpse.”

Ms. Demuth said she has worked with buyers looking for larger properties outside of Zurich to enable more work and education from home, and she anticipates “the trend towards larger apartments and houses will increase”.

In the greater Zurich area, the number of available houses has decreased significantly since 2014 and prices have kept high, according to the brokers. “Not a lot of properties come on the market,” said Ms. Engler. “Older people in particular try to stay in their homes as long as possible, so prices keep rising.”

The average price for a single-family home in the region is currently CHF 2.47 million (US $ 2.77 million), an increase of 7.8 percent since 2019. This emerges from the Swiss market report 2021 by Engel & Volkers. The average price for a condominium is 1.44 million Swiss francs (1.6 million US dollars), an increase of 6.2 percent since 2019.

Most foreign home buyers in Switzerland are from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, France and Belgium, Ms. Demuth said.

Foreigners can only buy second homes in the tourist areas of Switzerland such as St. Moritz, Gstaad, Verbier and some areas on Lake Lucerne, said Ms. Engler.

In metropolitan areas like Zurich, where foreigners must be resident to buy real estate, most buyers are Germans or British, Incir said.

The restrictions on foreign home buyers in Switzerland are strict and can vary across the country’s 26 cantons or states, as are the rules on taxes and notary fees on property sales. In some areas, foreigners are required to obtain special permission to buy real estate, with restrictions set by location and size, according to brokers.

In Zurich, the notary fee and the land registry fee are both 0.1 percent and amount to around 5,000 francs (5,605 US dollars) plus 7.7 percent VAT on a typical house that costs 2.5 million francs (2.8 million US dollars). Dollars), Ms. Engler said, adding that fees are usually shared between the buyer and seller.

Brokerage commissions are typically in the 3 to 5 percent range and are typically paid by the seller, Incir said.

German, French, Italian, Romansh; Swiss Francs (1 Franc = 1.12 USD)

The owners declined to disclose how much they pay in annual taxes related to the property. While it is above average, it is subject to the same transaction fees as the average property and comes in at around 20,000 Swiss francs ($ 22,400) including sales tax, Ms. Engler said.

Vivien Engler, Engel & Volkers Zürichsee Freienbach, 011-41-43-888-11-11, engelvoelkers.com

Sign up here for weekly email updates on residential property news. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.