The number of empty apartments again increases considerably

For 25 years there have never been so many vacant apartments in the Canton of Zurich. The highest vacancy rate is again in the Pfannenstil region. The situation is very different in the city of Zurich, where there are virtually no vacancies.

Adi Kaelin

New buildings usually find their tenants, while their old apartments often remain empty. (Image: Keystone / Gaetan Bally)

New buildings usually find their tenants, while their old apartments often remain empty. (Image: Keystone / Gaetan Bally)

Every year, the city and canton statistic offices present the outstanding flat rate. This shows how many apartments are empty at the deadline of 1 June. The figure does not, however, cover those apartments that are immediately occupied after the departure of the old tenants. To put it bluntly, it's all about the apartments that nobody wants.

A good indicator

It therefore represents only a small aspect of the housing market. In the canton, 7330 apartments were empty on 1 June, in the city of Zurich there were only 447. In fact, every year more than 40 000 people move to Zurich and find an apartment here. The significance of the vacancy rate must therefore be put into perspective; Given the evolution over the years, however, this may be a good indicator for the housing market.

In fact, a lot has happened in recent years, as can be seen in the communication between the city and the canton. Since the mid-nineties vacancy has been fluctuating again and again. But it was never as high as this year. And since 2012 it has increased steadily. In the last year alone she climbed from 0.9 to 0.99 per cent cantonally – even dropping something in the city; from 0.21 to 0.2 percent.

The reason for the increase in the number of vacant apartments is quite simple: apartments were built for considerably more people than in the Canton of Zurich. In the past five years the number of inhabitants has increased by 110,000. An apartment is occupied by an average of 2.05 people. It would therefore have required 53,500 new apartments. In fact, 57,000 were built during this period.

The highest vacancies are in the Pfannenstiel region, ie the communities on the right bank of Lake Zurich. Vacancy rose last year by 0.14% to 2.23%. Küsnacht has an above-average share of 4.27 or 3.13 percent in this figure. Unfortunately, it can not be said whether the vacant apartments in these communities are very expensive. The price of the apartment is only charged in the city, but not in the canton.

City works very differently

In short, one can say that no more newly built apartments are empty. The number is at the level of the previous year. Apparently many people go to a new apartment, after which their old apartment can not be rented. Small apartments have seen the smallest increase, while the number of empty apartments with more than three rooms has increased by about 13 percent.

In the city of Zurich, the housing market is still very different from the countryside. Although 2700 apartments were realized last year. However, demand remained consistently high, with even a slight decrease in vacancy. Incidentally, the cantonal trends also apply to the city: here too, the number of vacant three-room apartments increased, while that of vacant new buildings even decreased considerably. 142 newly built apartments were empty last year, now there are 87.

Empty luxury flats

For the city one can clearly say that especially luxury apartments are empty and apartments, where the price-performance ratio is not right. In the past two years, new lease contracts have been concluded on average for a rent of CHF 24 per square meter. In the vacant apartments, the rent is on average 29 francs.

Vacancy is low everywhere, but there are small differences. The percentage in circles 3, 5, 9 and 11 is very low: four years ago there was a clear outlier: at that time, 105 apartments in the Escher-Wyss district, ie in the Zurich-West development area, were empty, especially new ones. The vacancy rate rose to no less than 4.7 percent. In the meantime, this has also come to an end: at present there are still 5 apartments empty, which corresponds to a percentage of 0.15.

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