I’ll step out of the linear story for a moment to explain a little more about my own process of buying a house, which I believe is by no means typical. But here’s hoping I’m only doing it once…
I found the properties I wanted to look at by sifting through dozens of websites where people or realty companies list the properties for sale. When I found one I was interested in enough to want to see, I contacted the person or called the number listed on the ad. I have finite time, and I didn’t want to waste mine or anyone else’s, so visiting anything out of my price range, or geographical area was out of the question. So in the end, I only visited the one house.
I contacted the realtor, and made the appointment for the initial viewing, and the subsequent visits to the house. I had it inspected for asbestos (which I was cautioned that this is apparently not the done thing in Switzerland), but not really anything else as I already felt like I was pushing some boundaries. I visited with an architect, who again didn’t seem to think that house presented any unusual problems. He sent a colleague back to the house to do sketches for me as there were no floor plans on file with the canton.
And finally at the end of June, I made a formal offer. The house was listed at a price, but valued much lower by the bank. So I offered what the bank said they valued it at which was within my price range. Another quirk of mortgages here is that the bank will value the house, and then offer to loan you 80% of that value. If the negotiated price is more than what the bank values it at, you’re on the hook for making up the difference in cash.
The realtor wrote me back and said he would like me to resend the offer but at a significantly lower price. I was perplexed, but I said ok. I re-sent my very carefully crafted with the help of a French friend email with the suggested price. The realtor came back with a counter offer which I accepted*. And that was that. I was committed to purchasing this house.
Omg, I was buying a house! A HOUSE!! In Switzerland! Now I had to find a mortgage, a Notaire, and money. Holy shit, what was I doing?!
*(sidebar: I totally suck at bargaining. I was traveling through Tanzania for a month. My bargaining skills were so bad that the market vendors would offer me a free gift from a basket with my purchases. I think they felt guilty that they had gotten such good prices from me.)