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In which country is it impossible for a foreigner to buy a property?

The content of the article:

  • Ownership rights
  • Countries where there are obstacles for foreigners to purchase real estate:
  • Austria
  • Switzerland
  • Islands where a foreigner cannot buy real estate


At all times, people have strived to become the owner of their own home. It’s one thing when you come home and realize that everything around you is yours, and another when tomorrow you might be asked to “go out.” The real estate market, regardless of country, cost, religion and other social conditions, lives its own life. He is a definite motivator for society to change something, strive for something, invest in something. And this, naturally, has an impact on economic growth. In any country, on the smallest point of the planet, there will always be someone who sells and someone who buys. Of course, there is a “good” and there is a “merchant,” but there are still countries that, as a “merchant,” are reluctant to make deals.

Let's talk about countries in which there are a number of obstacles for a foreigner when buying real estate.
Austria comes first. If in most European Union countries, when purchasing real estate with a limit set for this, you can also obtain a residence permit, then do not expect this from Austria. Here everything is exactly the opposite. To purchase an apartment or house you need the following:

  • have citizenship of one of the European Union countries, that is, if you have a residence permit or even permanent residence in one of the European countries, this, unfortunately, is not an indicator. You need EU citizenship or an Austrian residence permit
  • subject to the first point, at the beginning you need to obtain permission from the Land Commission. To do this, you must live in the facility for at least three years.
  • if approved, the purchase must be registered to a legal entity registered in the EU
  • the housing will be issued only for the purpose of your personal residence, it cannot be rented out
  • the sale of commercial real estate to foreigners is prohibited.

With long and lengthy procedures, the desire to buy real estate in Austria melts away before our eyes. However, if you have the means, want to live in this country or plan to do business here, then, as they say, “Gruess Gott!” 

Another country with a whole folder of requirements for a non-resident who wants to buy real estate here is Switzerland. What associations does this country usually evoke, besides international banks and luxury watches? For most, these are beautiful alpine meadows, fresh air and an atmosphere of a serene and comfortable life. Dreams are dreams, but making them come true is quite difficult. The country has strict restrictions on the purchase of real estate by non-residents. Primary requirements: 

  • Swiss residence permit (category B and C). If you are planning a property for permanent residence and intend to stay in the country for more than 90 days, then you definitely need a residence permit in Switzerland. Foreigners without this residence permit (even if citizens of the EU and EFTA - European Free Trade Association) can only obtain resort housing with the approval and permission of the cantonal authorities. 
  • Citizens of the EU and EFTA who have received a residence permit in Switzerland can freely buy any real estate without restrictions; third country nationals residing in Switzerland with a permit C 
  • non-residents from other countries outside the EU and EFTA with a residence permit of category B can become the owner of one property, which is intended for permanent residence. You can also register a plot of land, but under the obligatory condition - to build a residential building on it within a year. The property is registered in the name of the buyer and he must live in it himself, and renting out, even partially, is prohibited
  • an easier procedure when registering resort housing. Here you don’t have to wait for permission from the cantonal authorities, but foreigners with B and L permits, without EU and EFTA citizenship, can buy such housing. In this case, you will be presented with certain conditions: location of housing in special tourist areas; the house will be registered if the annual quota for resort housing is not exceeded (up to 1.5 thousand objects per year); living space should not exceed 200 square meters; it is allowed to buy one house per family (adult children can purchase separate housing, but only if they confirm their financial independence); the house cannot be sold within 5 years after purchase; the owner must use the holiday home for at least two weeks during the tourist season, but not more than 90 days per stay 

In general, with Switzerland everything is not so simple, but still, “steps” can always be built.
Well, for “dessert” there is a country, or rather not a country, but an archipelago, where it is impossible for almost anyone except the indigenous residents to purchase housing. So, these are the Åland Islands (Åland) - an archipelago in the Baltic Sea, an autonomy within Finland. First, let's look at real estate in Finland. It is impossible to obtain a residence permit through the purchase of real estate in Finland. But you can do this through study, work, reuniting with your family and opening your own business. At first glance, there are no particular difficulties in purchasing housing in the country. But for foreign nationals who are not EU or EEA (European Economic Area) citizens, permission must be sought from the Ministry of Defense to purchase. Such permission may not be required if:

  • if the spouses are stillshare a home together and one of them is an EU or EEA citizen; 
  • the seller is a relative of the applicant; 
  • if the property is located on the territory of a rented plot or it is part of a joint-stock housing association. At the same time, when completing a transaction, the owner is immediately warned about certain rules for owning this object:
  1. maintain the silence and order established for the residents of the house. Usually it is hung right next to the front door;
  2. use the housing for its intended purpose. If it is indicated that it is for personal residence, then it cannot be used as commercial real estate;
  3. when inviting guests, be sure to warn them about the established rules of the residential building.

The procedure for purchasing real estate is simplified for citizens of the EU and EEA and does not require any special permission; the advantage is that citizens of these countries are offered preferential mortgage lending conditions. Therefore, if you really want to buy real estate in Finland, you can obtain a European passport through simplified legalization under repatriation programs in countries where this can be done much faster.

Well, what about Åland? Why are they remarkable? The territory of the archipelago is small, and the number of inhabitants does not exceed 31,000. The only large city, which is also the capital, is Mariehamn. Why the only one? Because the archipelago consists of three regions: Mariehamn, the archipelago and the village. There is also an airport in the city, which has two destinations - the capital of Finland and the capital of Sweden. But he is not the only way to get here. You can also go to the islands by ferries, which regularly operate on the route Tallinn-Stockholm, Turku-Stockholm. Within the archipelago, locals can also travel thanks to water transport, and it is free for them. Bus services include five bus routes and fares are quite affordable. You can use taxi services, rent a car, or enjoy a trip on a motor boat. When it comes to food, the locals have a lot to boast about. They are proud that most of the food is from their own production. And if you think that they only cook local Scandinavian dishes, then you are deeply mistaken; the cuisine of the archipelago is very diverse. Prices for electricity and plain water are high on the islands, as it goes through a long process of purification from the archipelago’s groundwater. Prices for rental housing here are unstable and depend on the time of year, location of the apartment or house, but you can find something to suit every taste. But buying an apartment is impossible for a foreigner. You can become the owner of a home only if you have the Åland right of residence, which can only be claimed by children of the original inhabitants of the archipelago and direct citizens of Finland. So you can come to the archipelago, but you can buy something here for yourself only after you become a Finn. 

By the way, according to the latest data, the Canary Islands are also considering the possibility of limiting the purchase of real estate by foreigners. This is due to overcrowding in tourist areas. For now, this issue has been discussed at the international level. It will also be considered at the upcoming forum in Brussels, which will be headed by the Canary Islands. In any case, VelesClub Int. cooperates with many countries that can offer you many real estate options.


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