Recognizing and avoiding stumbling blocks in the real estate purchase contract

The purchase contract for an apartment or a house involves a lot of money. It's worth knowing what's involved and eliminating potential problems from the outset. Your partner in this process is the notary - or, depending on the canton, another certifying officer - who notarizes the purchase contract and enters the purchase in the land register. Without these formalities, you will not become the owner of your new home.


Purchase contract

The core of a real estate purchase is the purchase contract

The contract regulates point by point the conditions, the price and the date on which the property will change hands. As a rule, the purchase contract is not drawn up by the parties themselves, but by a notary. The notary first writes a draft and then submits it to both parties for review and amendment. The contract of sale should contain the following points:

  • Names and addresses of both parties

  • Description of the property: address, cadastral number, building insurance number (if available), land area

  • Purchase price

  • Payment of fees and taxes - in particular, the payment of real estate gains tax must be clearly regulated

  • For new properties: building description; for older properties: condition of the property at the time of handover

  • Terms of payment, payment modalities

  • Deadline for the transfer

  • Arrangements for the continuation of existing insurances - for example building insurance

  • Easements - must necessarily correspond to the information in the land register

  • Documents that are considered part of the contract - for example, a building description

  • Regulation in the event that one of the two parties does not comply with the contract

Tip: If individual points of the contract are legally incorrectly formulated in the draft or have been forgotten, the first thing you should do is agree on them with the seller. Only then should you commission the notary to make the changes, because repeated corrections can quickly run into money. The purchase contract is signed by you and the seller in front of the notary and then notarized by him. Normally, the notary also organizes the registration in the land register. Only when this entry has been made, you become the owner of your new home. 

Good to know: If you are buying an existing property, the seller may propose a staggered sale. This is legally trouble-free, as long as you pay attention to a few points:

  • Withdrawal from the purchase contract? As long as the purchase contract has not been signed, a withdrawal is generally possible. However, if you have verbally agreed to the purchase and you stall the seller unnecessarily long, he will claim his expenses (for example, for the preparation of the contract) and may also claim damages because he has to look for new buyers.

    The situation is different if the contract has serious defects, for example, if important documents are missing or there has been deception. Then you can of course refuse to sign the contract. Once the purchase agreement has been signed by both parties and publicly notarized, only the exit clauses recorded in it apply. For example, an agreement that the contract becomes invalid if the seller does not receive the building permit in time.

Disclaimer Shared 1:1 (Raiffeisen Casa)

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