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How to estimate the price of an apartment?

value my apartment for free

Defining the right selling or buying price for an apartment is not an exact science. Each apartment is unique and its price on the market depends on supply and demand at the time of valuation. In this article, we will present you with the tools at your disposal to have your apartment appraised for free.

Table of contents

What are the different tools to estimate your apartment for free?

Calculate the value based on the price per m² in your town

price per square meter for apartmets, flat

In Switzerland, the best way to get an idea of the average price per square meter in your area is to analyse online apartment listings. Be careful though, as overpriced apartments stay online for a long time, which can be misleading. You can find the prices per m² on online portals like RealAdvisor, these prices per m² are calculated using the average of the prices per m² of the apartments currently online on 14 real estate portals in Switzerland.

Example in the Rue des Alpes in Geneva - Cité:
If an apartment of a surface area of 100 m² is for sale at CHF 1'100'000 and an apartment of 80 m² is for sale at 2ᵉ at CHF 960'000.

Calculation of the price per square metre per apartment:

  • 1st apartment: CHF 1,000,000 / 100 sqm = CHF 10'000.00 / sqm. 
  • 2nd apartment: CHF 960,000 / 80 sqm = CHF 12'000.- / sqm

Calculation of the price per square meter of the street:

  • (CHF 10,000 + CHF 12,000) / 2 = CHF 11’000.- / sqm

This price is closest to the market value because it corresponds to the current offer in the Rue des Alpes. If you wish to estimate the value of your apartment, you will just have to multiply the surface area of your apartment by the price per m² of your municipality. The price per m² represents the median in the locality. An apartment in good condition in a popular area of the municipality will have a higher price.

Compare similar apartments for sale

comparative analysis of similar apartments

Calculating the value using the price per m² gives an approximate price for your apartment based on the market value, but it does not take into account the specific characteristics of your property.

In order to get as close as possible to the price of your apartment, you should find out about comparable apartments sold in your city on a real estate website for example and filter out the apartments that are closest to yours. In a few words, you need to put yourself in the shoes of a buyer.

After selecting the location, the number of rooms, amenities, year of construction and whether there have been any renovations, you will get a list of similar properties. Your selling price will be closer to one that has identical amenities to yours, rather than an apartment in the same city, with the same year of construction and dilapidated amenities.

How to value my flat online?

online apartment appraisal - hedonistic method

Today you have access to online evaluation tools that do this work for you for free. Several companies have access to thousands of prices of transactions already completed and prices of apartments currently for sale. This allows them to create automatic estimation algorithms. By providing them with key information about your apartment, such as living space, number of rooms... the tools will be able to compare your apartment to those in their database and provide you with a price range, which is closest to the market value.

Have your apartment professionally appraised free of charge

appraise your apartment by a real estate agent

Not all professional appraisals are charged, some agents do it for free, this is the case of RealAdvisor brokers for example. 

You can make an appointment with an expert who will come and thoroughly analyze your apartment. The advantage of consulting a professional is his knowledge of the local market which will allow him to take into account all the indicators of the location that will influence the price. In order to refine his evaluation, he may also ask you to provide him with certain documents such as a plan, technical diagnostics or other certificates. You can see here the complete list of documents requested by a real estate expert.

Elements to be taken into account when estimating an apartment

Each apartment is unique, in the same building an apartment on the ground floor will have a price difference with an apartment on the top floor. Two apartments in the same city, but located at 2 minutes walk from a train station and the other at 30 minutes walk, this difference will considerably change the price.

appraisal of flats, evaluation of apartment
  • Duplex: This is an individual two-storey dwelling in a collective building. This type of housing is more and more in demand because it allows a larger space than a classic apartment and its layout is similar to that of a house. In addition, unlike houses, duplexes are generally located in the city and therefore close to shops. 
    For more information, find here how to value a house.

  • Attic: It also includes the advantages of collective housing, such as the sharing of charges, security. Its main asset remains its position, perched on the roof of a building, it benefits from a private terrace and if its location is optimal a clear view of the surroundings. These apartments are very rare because a building can only accommodate one or two. This only increases their value.

  • Classic apartment: What can add value to a classic apartment is its position in the building. A ground floor apartment is usually less protected from theft, while the higher it is, the more secure it is and will receive more light it will have and can have a better view from above if there is no opposite. The value of an apartment can increase by up to 5% per floor in some neighbourhoods provided it has an elevator. 

  • Attic apartment: For this type of apartment, it is important to check which height has been used to calculate the living area. In most cantons in Switzerland, the surface area is only taken into account if the height between the floor and the ceiling exceeds 1.5 metres.

Assessing the condition of the building and the apartment

Evaluation of a property

When it comes to the valuation of an apartment, it is important to take into account the condition of the building as well.

  • The year of construction: The older your building is, the more its value decreases over the years. 

  • The condition of the installations: For example, the condition of the frames, the front door. For a buyer, it is important to find out if there are plans to renovate the common areas, a façade renovation or roofing work. For a seller, these expenses are to be reduced from the selling price because they are additional costs for the buyer. 

  • The options: The presence of double-glazing, armoured doors, an alarm system or air-conditioning are important advantages, especially if the neighbouring buildings are not equipped with them.

  • Technical diagnostics: In Switzerland, many diagnostics have to be carried out at the time of the sale of an apartment for total transparency, bad results will systematically lead to a decrease in the property. For example, a bad electrical diagnosis could lead to over-consumption and increase charges or bills. 

  • Renovation: If you have carried out renovations, you can add the amount of the work to the selling price, to be weighted according to the year of renovation. In fact, a renovation done 30 years ago will no longer have the same value as a renovation done in the 5 years preceding the sale.

The inner elements not to be forgotten:

  • Disposition: Two apartments with the same surface area in the same building may have different prices, depending on their layout. For example, the rooms should not be too small in order to be able to fit them out properly. Also a long but narrow corridor cannot be used as a living room, it will be considered as wasted space. 

  • Layout: The layout of a room will be the differentiating element that will help the potential buyer to project himself into the apartment. An open kitchen for example with a central island or an Italian bathroom with a fully or partially open shower are attributes that are more valuable than a classic kitchen or bathroom.

  • Equipment: All included equipment obviously adds value to the apartment. They can be added to the selling price of the apartment, as long as you weight their value according to their condition, a washing machine that is 20 years old and does not work very well, has almost no value, the buyer will even have to add to his budget the equipment to be replaced.

The impact of the environment on the price of the apartment

access the property of a flat

The more popular a neighbourhood is, the higher the prices will be.

  • City amenities: Proximity to transport, roads, shops, schools, train stations and airports are appreciated amenities that can increase the selling price of an apartment, if they do not bring in return any negative counterparts such as noise pollution by the playground of a school for example. 

  • The view: A opposite party can lower the price of an apartment, while a clear view will be an asset for the sale. More importantly, a view of a monument, a lake, a mountain will be a feature very much in demand by buyers and can raise the price of the apartment up to 10%. 

  • Exposure: Even if it has much less impact than a beautiful view, exposure to the sun can make you gain points on the value of your apartment.

Charges to be taken into account

apartment colective charges expenses

Charges are mandatory in a building and vary from building to building, they include charges related to:

Building maintenance:

  • Cleaning of common areas
  • Recycling and waste collection
  • Unanticipated costs, such as elevator repairs

The administration:

  • Presence of a caretaker or concierge service
  • Costs related to the organization of general meetings
  • Trustee's fees

Commodity charges:

  • Current expenditure on water
  • Electricity 
  • Heating

It is recommended to check the amount of these charges and to take them into account at the time of purchase to avoid unpleasant surprises during the year. They generally amount to 1 or 2% of the selling price and vary according to the condition and management of the property.

High charges can discourage potential buyers, so it is useful to include this factor in the price evaluation.

How to calculate the number of rooms?

regulation on number of rooms in switzerland

The majority of cantons apply the following specificities:

  • The minimum surface area for a living room is 10 m².
  • As soon as a room is between 5 and 10 m² it will be considered as half a room.
  • The kitchen and bathroom are not considered as rooms

Concrete case:

  •  An apartment with 3 bedrooms, 1 of which is less than 10 m², 1 living room, 1 kitchen and 1 bathroom, should be indicated as follows:
  • 3.5 rooms (including 2.5 bedrooms and 1 living room) the kitchen and bathroom should be indicated separately in the ad.

In the canton of Geneva:

  • The kitchen is taken into account in the number of rooms 
  • For this same apartment, there are 4.5 rooms (2.5 bedrooms, 1 living room and 1 kitchen).

In the canton of Fribourg:

  • The kitchen is considered half a room, no matter how big it is. 
  • We will thus note 4 rooms (2.5 bedrooms, 1 living room and 0.5 kitchen).

How to calculate the surface area of an apartment?

livable surface

There are several notions of surface area:

  • Net living area: includes all accessible and usable floor space inside the apartment, with a minimum height of 150 cm. 

  • Living area: includes the net living area plus the surface area of the interior walls and partitions.

  • Gross living area: includes the living area plus the surface area of the outside and party walls.

The majority of cantons apply the net living area because it represents the actual surface area available for habitation.

What other areas should be added to the living area?

  • Balcony/loggia: Only 50% of the surface area of a balcony is added to the living area, so the net living area of the balcony or loggia must be measured and divided by two.

  • Terrace: 33% of the terrace surface is taken into account. The surface of the terrace should, therefore, be divided by 3 and added to the net living area of the apartment. 

  • Veranda/conservatory: if heated the veranda is considered as a living room and can be added to the living area.

  • Basement: is considered habitable only if the basement is heated and has a window that allows a minimum of 10 % light diffusion. 

  • Mezzanine: is considered habitable when its height exceeds 150 cm.
    Cellars, storage, garden, parking spaces: must not be added to the sales area, but must be indicated separately in the advertisement. 
    The cantons each have their own regulations, so it is useful to ask an expert to check the local specificities.