Online Home Market Analysis (OHMA): Demand booms in third quarter – apartments are selling faster than before the COVID-19 pandemic

Across Switzerland, demand for apartments (Q4/2019–Q3/2020) declined slightly year-on-year in the reporting period. However, analysis of the quarterly data reveals an astonishing surge in demand in the third quarter of 2020: throughout Switzerland, the advertising time for apartments declined to a record low of 52 days, despite a greater number of advertisements. Thus, demand for apartments is currently stronger than ever.

This is the result of the Online Home Market Analysis (OHMA) by and the Swiss Real Estate Institute at the University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich. The study analysed supply and demand based on advertisements in Switzerland’s seven large property marketplaces between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020 compared with the prior-year period.

  • Significant increase in advertising time in the reporting period compared with the previous year
    On average, an apartment in Switzerland had to be advertised for 86 days on an online platform in the reporting period, representing a striking 43% increase compared with the previous year.
  • Unexpectedly strong surge in demand in the third quarter of 2020: apartments are selling faster than before the COVID-19 pandemic
    However, data for the third quarter of 2020 indicates that this rise was attributable primarily to behaviour during the lockdown. Although the advertising time for apartments was still above average in the first two quarters, the mean advertising time in the third quarter dropped by more than half despite the greater number of advertisements, indicating that demand picked up strongly again. Remarkably, the average advertising time of only 52 days was considerably lower than the booming year before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three-year phase of declining advertising times across Switzerland seems to have come to an end in the reporting period

In the reporting period from 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2020, 91,387 apartments were offered for sale throughout Switzerland, representing a 19% increase compared with the previous period. However, with an increase of 43%, the average advertising time rose at a considerably faster pace, from 60 to 86 days. The growing demand in conjunction with the disproportionate rise in advertising time indicates weaker demand for apartments throughout Switzerland. At first glance, it appears that the years of steadily growing demand for apartments are over, and that advertising times are on the rise again after three years of decline. However, a more detailed analysis of the reporting period by quarter reveals an astonishing development.

Demand for apartments bounces back after the lockdown

The following graphic of the quarterly figures shows that it took longer to sell an apartment in the fourth quarter of 2019, even before the first signs of coronavirus emerged in Asia: advertising times rose from 87 to 99 days, and during the lockdown to as much as 113 days. The reason behind the decline in the number of advertisements during the lockdown is that many sellers were no longer advertising their property because it was so difficult to carry out any viewings.
The surge in demand following the lockdown is still astonishing: despite 8% growth in the number of advertisements, the advertising time fell to 52 days – remarkably, a value that is substantially lower than the pre-COVID-19 boom (60 days).

Professor Peter Ilg, director of the Swiss Real Estate Institute at the University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich, attributes the boom in demand to two factors: ‘First, the booming demand in the third quarter can be traced back to pent-up demand from the previous quarters, and second, it is also due to a change in behaviour: a beautiful home has become even more important to many people in Switzerland after the lockdown.’

Jens Paul Berndt, CEO of Homegate AG, adds: ‘We also identified a sharp rise in visits and contact requests, a sign that property remains a popular investment asset even during a crisis.’

Apartments sold significantly faster than before the coronavirus crisis in Geneva, Vaud/Valais and Ticino

Advertising times in Ticino were a full 30 days less than before the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by Geneva (-19 days) and Vaud/Valais (-13 days).
Apartments sold fastest in the Geneva, Vaud/Valais, Zurich and Ticino regions during the third quarter of 2020, at fewer than 60 advertising days. At about 60 days, apartment sellers in the Espace Mittelland, eastern Switzerland and central Switzerland had to wait only slightly longer to find a buyer than the group with the shortest advertising times. With an average of 66 days, north-west Switzerland was the region with the longest advertising time in the third quarter of 2020.

A comparison of the change in the advertising time and the volume of supply allows conclusions to be drawn about the demand dynamics. In the Zurich region, for example, the number of advertisements grew by 74% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2020. The advertising time declined by half a day despite the massive increase in demand; thus, growing demand can clearly be observed in the Zurich region. Practically all of the regions analysed exhibited even stronger demand for apartments in the third quarter than in the quarter before the coronavirus pandemic started (third quarter of 2019). This is astonishing, seeing as Switzerland has suffered from the worst recession this year since the oil crisis more than 40 years ago.

OHMA – Online Home Market Analysis

The OHMA is a twice-yearly analysis that reports alternately on trends in advertising times for houses and apartments in all the main Swiss online marketplaces. It covers the whole of Switzerland, with an analysis of eight major regions. Suburban municipalities or centres are covered by in-depth studies. The analysis provides regionally differentiated information on supply and demand trends for owned homes, broken down by market segment. publishes the analysis in partnership with the Swiss Real Estate Institute at the University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich.


Press release


Press contact:
Homegate AG, Melanie Müller
Tel. 044 711 86 40,

Research contact:

Swiss Real Estate Institute, Professor Peter Ilg, Director
Tel. 043 322 26 84, 043 322 26 13 (administration),


Homegate AG was founded in 2001 and is now the leading digital company on the Swiss property market. With more than nine million visits and over 110,000 properties currently advertised, is Switzerland’s number one property portal. Homegate AG employs more than 100 people at its Zurich headquarters and in Lausanne. Homegate AG is part of the Swiss media group Tamedia AG. Zürcher Kantonalbank also holds shares in the company.


The Swiss Real Estate Institute is a foundation established by the University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich and SVIT Schweiz. In addition to research, the institute focuses on teaching and services/consulting for the Swiss property industry.