|  Ramzi Chamat

Housing shortage in Switzerland: Challenges, causes and solutions for a sustainable real estate market.

The Swiss real estate market is going through a period of profound transformations and significant challenges. The housing shortage, exacerbated by rising interest rates and increasing immigration, has highlighted existing tensions in the property market. This article explores the different facets of this crisis, the contributing factors and potential solutions to overcome these challenges.




For several years, the Swiss real estate market has been under pressure. The growing demand for housing, both for ownership and rental, meets a limited supply, creating a significant imbalance. In 2024, this situation has worsened, affecting housing prices and rents, as well as housing accessibility for many households. This detailed analysis examines the causes of this crisis, its implications, and the strategies to address it.



I. An Increased Housing Shortage


The Swiss real estate market is marked by a limited supply of available housing. In 2023, the vacancy rates for owned homes were 1.8% and for single-family homes 1.6%​ (Credit Suisse)​. This scarcity of supply is due to several factors. Firstly, strict land-use regulations limit the expansion of construction areas. Secondly, the densification of cities, a solution often considered to mitigate this shortage, faces significant resistance, as evidenced by the rejection of densification projects in Geneva​ (Immobilier.ch)​.



II. Rising Interest Rates and Impact on Demand


Another key factor affecting the real estate market is the rise in interest rates. Since the beginning of 2022, mortgage interest rates have increased, rising from around 1% to 2.7% for five-year fixed loans​. This increase makes home purchases more expensive, reducing accessibility to ownership, especially for young adults and first-time buyers. Consequently, the demand for home purchases has decreased, while the demand for rentals has increased.



III. Increasing Rents


With the shortage of rental housing, rents have seen a notable increase. Forecasts for 2024 indicate a rise in rents of up to 7%, mainly due to the increase in reference rates for mortgages and sustained rental demand​ (Credit Suisse)​​ (Immobilier.ch)​. This rent increase heavily burdens households, particularly those with modest incomes, and exacerbates social inequalities.



IV. Immigration and Housing Demand


Immigration continues to add pressure to the housing market. In 2023, a positive net migration of 70,000 people amplified the demand for housing, especially in major cities and urban areas​ (Immobilier.ch)​. This rapid demographic growth requires an adequate response in terms of infrastructure and the construction of new housing to avoid a more severe housing crisis.



V. Economic and Global Factors


The Swiss real estate market is not isolated from global economic influences. Factors such as the war in Ukraine and global inflation have disrupted supply chains and increased construction material costs​. These elements have slowed construction projects and worsened the shortage of available housing.



VI. Potential Solutions


To overcome this crisis, several solutions are possible:


Public-Private Collaboration


A partnership between the government and the private sector is essential to increase the supply of affordable housing. Tax incentives for developers and subsidies for sustainable housing projects can stimulate construction​ (Oaks Lane)​.


Investment in Workforce Training


The shortage of skilled labor in the construction sector is a major obstacle. Investing in training and skill development can help meet the growing demand for qualified labor​ (Oaks Lane)​.


Urban Densification


Adopting innovative urban planning strategies to sustainably densify urban areas is crucial. This can include repurposing underutilized land and constructing high-density housing​ (Immobilier.ch)​.


Regulatory Reforms


Easing some land-use regulations can allow for a faster expansion of buildable areas and facilitate the construction of new housing​.





The Swiss real estate market is at a crossroads. The housing shortage, exacerbated by economic and demographic factors, requires a concerted and multi-faceted approach to be resolved. Solutions must include close collaborations between the public and private sectors, investments in workforce training, and regulatory reforms. Moreover, it is crucial to intelligently densify urban areas to effectively respond to the growing market demand. Only coordinated and strategic action will stabilize the real estate market, ensure housing access for all, and maintain social equity and economic stability in Switzerland.


In summary, although the Swiss real estate market faces considerable challenges, it also offers opportunities for reforms and innovations that can turn these challenges into assets for a more stable and equitable future. Intelligent urban densification is an essential component of this strategy, allowing for the optimization of available space and the creation of sustainable solutions for the growing housing demand.

The housing dilemma in Switzerland and the chronic shortage.

The housing dilemma in Switzerland and the chronic shortage.

Reforming rental laws to address the housing shortage crisis.

Reforming rental laws to address the housing shortage crisis.