Characteristics of free markets are, among others, free competition, open market access for all suppliers and consumers, and complete price transparency. At least, this is how economists argue when they evaluate the functioning of markets. Especially in the areas of market access and price transparency, a lot has happened in recent years with the internet and social media. For suppliers, it has become technically easier to offer products or services publicly, but at the same time this leads to an often quite confusing abundance of information. At the same time, price transparency has become easier for consumers in some markets.
However, the readiness for price transparency is also a cultural phenomenon. For example, Anglo-Saxon countries are much more open than Switzerland when it comes to publishing wages. But it also varies from market segment to market segment. While it is very easy to find the current best price when buying a camera or a TV set with the price comparison website toppreise.ch, it is much more difficult to get an overview in the Swiss real estate market – of course also because real estate is a much more complex and difficult to compare “product” than a TV set. This is probably why buyers and sellers of real estate in Switzerland are increasingly turning to a professional partner who combines proven expertise and sound market knowledge based on many years of experience.
In “Das Magazin”, Ursina Haller, who lives in Silicon Valley, recently reported that in the USA, the online tool Zillow has a near monopoly in the search for a suitable property to buy or rent, but provides a wealth of information about the property on offer that would be unthinkable here. The special thing about Zillow – Haller writes – is “that the app provides information on everything that has walls and a roof, regardless of whether it is currently available on the market or not.” She therefore does not have to describe her house to visitors. “If you search for our address online, the internet immediately spits out a Zillow profile: 25 photos depicting every nook and cranny of the unfurnished house, from the front door to the bathtub. Plus a flattering description of the property including the information that our kitchen sink is equipped with a pull-out hand shower. And of course the estimated value of the property and how much rent we pay each month,” Ursina Haller continues.
Our own test has shown that even for properties that have already been sold, Zillow contains information on, for example, the sale price and date, estimated monthly costs and remaining debt, repair costs, broker’s fee and other costs in connection with the sale. In addition to a detailed description of the properties, there is also information about sellers and buyers, neighbouring properties with corresponding purchase prices, and nearby schools with ratings. Such openness would hardly be accepted in Switzerland.
However, if you are looking for a high-end, luxury property in Switzerland somewhere else in the world, then WüstundWüst and its partner organisation Christie’s International Real Estate are still the right addresses.