A report published on 4 May 2023 cites land scarcity as the main reason behind Switzerland’s housing shortage.
In the 20 years between 2001 and 2021 Switzerland’s population grew from 7.3 to 8.7 million, a rise of 1.4 million residents or 19%. And with annual net immigration of around 50,000, building enough homes to house everyone in Switzerland is an ongoing challenge.
The survey, which aimed to understand the housing situation in cities and urban communities and gain insights into housing policy activities, found that two thirds of cities and urban areas have too little living space. A lack of land to build on was the principle reason cited for the shortage. The problem extends beyond cities to smaller towns and relates to both renting and purchasing homes. Affordable housing is particularly scarce.
The report, conducted by Wüest Partner AG, asked the 130 members of the association of cities from November to December 2022. 59 cities took part in the survey.
The lack of affordable housing particularly affects households with children, especially single-parent households. The situation in large cities with more than 50,000 residents is especially tight. But even smaller cities reported the housing supply in this segment to be lacking.
More than 80% of the cities surveyed said they have too little building land reserved. Many would like to buy more but struggle due to the high market prices. Other challenges include slow costly administrative procedures for building approval and a lack of interest from private investors to create affordable housing. Higher interest rates and recent inflation in the construction sector will only add to this challenge.
There is widespread agreement that something needs to be done. 60% of the municipalities surveyed see a high or very high need for action at a federal level. Around 70% share this assessment in medium-sized and large cities. A right of first refusal on building land and buildings was a potential solution suggested by 80% of those surveyed.
Another popular suggestion is transparency of previous rent to new renters. 70% thought this would reduce rents. However, overall, municipalities described their power to influence the housing market as low.