Mortgages are a fairly complicate financial product. When applying for a mortgage you will be required to disclose personal information to the lender, including sensitive information proving your exact income and personal wealth. The rates you receive will vary depending on your financial profile.
On top of that, you’ve got the arduous task of choosing the ideal mortgage type: Should you get a LIBOR-based mortgage? Or would a variable or fixed rate mortgage make more sense. How long a mortgage term should you choose?
Other important question present themselves, like whether a second mortgage is necessary, and if so, how would it be different from the first? Can you get lower rates if you purchase a particular kind of home or if you have a family? What would it cost you to drop out of a mortgage agreement ahead of schedule?
With all of these considerations, it’s no wonder that most people only pick a mortgage after long and tedious consultation sessions at the bank or with a private mortgage consultant. Generally the more complex a product is, the less likely it is to be offered online.
The same holds true for mortgages: While many Swiss use the Internet as a guide to home financing possibilities, the vast majority of mortgage deals are closed as they always have been - offline.
But in spite of that fact, recent years have seen a range of online mortgages launch successfully. In 2013 an estimated 1.25 - 1.5 billion francs worth of mortgage applications were completed online, taking a 1.2% share in the Swiss mortgage market. By 2015 that number went up to 2.2 - 2.4 billion francs, giving online mortgages (a maximum of) 1.6% of the mortgage market.
There is a noticeable upward trend. The number of well-informed and web-savvy mortgage applicants is growing steadily. This type of client does not need a lot of consultation, and primarily wants to get the cheapest mortgage available.
This makes it possible for banks to cut out the cost of consultation and consequently offer noticeably cheaper mortgages online. Customer support is typically only provided when technical questions arise.
Most Swiss banks have launched their online mortgages as subdivisions under another brand name, or in cooperation with an online partner. By doing so, banks hope to avoid cannibalizing their mainstay traditional mortgage business.
But there are banks, like the Neue Aargauer Bank (NAB), which offer online mortgages directly under their primary brand. In the case of the NAB, online mortgages are limited to the bank’s home market of Aargau.
Here’s a list of the major mortgage providers which already operate in the Swiss online mortgage market:
eHypothek from Swissquote & BKLB
The online broker Swissquote offers online mortgages in collaboration with the Basellandschaftlichen Kantonalbank (BLKB). When it launched in 2011, this online mortgage was the first of its kind in Switzerland.
The mortgages are provided by BLKB, while quotes and branding are managed by Swissquote under the white-label agreement. Opening a Swissquote account is required.
In addition to financing primary residences, this lender offers mortgages for secondary residences as well. Prime mortgage loans are available both as new mortgages and refinancing solutions. The customer support hotline also provides consultation on questions about home financing.
Hypomat from Glarner Kantonalbank
Online mortgage provider Hypomat launched in 2012, and lets you apply for home financing from 100,000 to 1 million francs. Offers include fixed rate mortgages with mortgage terms of 2 to 10 years, LIBOR-based mortgages (both 1-month rates and 3-month rates), and variable mortgages.
Note that the offers shown are the actual rates you will get, and not guideline rates. Rates are updated on a daily basis. As well as single family homes used as primary residences, financing for holiday homes and investment properties is also available if you qualify for a prime mortgage loan.
Online mortgages from Homegate and ZKB
Since 2012, the Homegate mortgage service has offered online home financing in partnership with the Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB). Mortgages issued by Homegate can cover up to 80% of a property’s purchase price, up to a maximum loan of 1.2 million francs. Forward mortgages are also offered.
This Swiss online real-estate portal has partnerships with a number of financial institutions in addition to the ZKB. By marketing mortgages to home buyers who use the online property marketplace to find a home, Homegate efficiently cross-sells mortgages while offering users a value added service.
Mortgages from Migros Bank
The Migros Bank included the option to apply for mortgages online in 2013. But unlike most online mortgages, the mortgage products offered online are identical to their standard mortgage products.
Whether you apply for a mortgage at the bank or online, the services and conditions you receive will be exactly the same. An additional consultation is offered no matter how you choose to apply. The published rates at Migros Bank are not just showcase rates, but reflect the actual cost of a mortgage. Rates vary depending on the type of property in question.
Swiss Life Direct
Swiss Life’s 2013 launch of the Swiss Life Direct online mortgage service was a first for the Swiss insurance business. Products include variable and fixed rate mortgages for primary residences, investment properties, holiday homes and new construction projects, with mortgage terms of up to 25 years.
Applications for both new mortgages and refinancing are accepted. After you provide necessary information, including your personal information, income, savings, property details, and the purchase price, a mortgage application in automatically generated in PDF format. This application can then be signed and sent by post along with other necessary documents.
The rates you get may differ from the published guide rates, for better or worse, depending on your particular situation. The same holds true for offline mortgages as well.
This isn’t exactly a typical online mortgage provider, because it doesn’t give you an online discount. But a perk of using Swiss Life Direct is that it offers consultation at agencies and through Moneypark, a third-party mortgage broker.
e-hypo.ch from the Schwyzer Kantonalbank
This portal was launched by Schwyzer Kantonalbank (SZKB) in 2014 and primarily targets homeowners looking for extensions or refinancing of mortgages from other lenders, to finance their primary residence.
Offers include fixed rate mortgages with mortgage terms of 2-10 years, and mortgages based on 3-month LIBOR rates. Home financing of up to 1 million francs is available for prime mortgages.
If you have a savings account, pillar 3a retirement account, or trading account at Schwyzer Kantonalbank then you may be eligible to receive discounted mortgage rates, depending on the total worth of your assets at SZKB.
If you’re an existing SZKB customer, you can complete the mortgage process entirely online. As a new customer you will have to get your identification verified offline - at an SBB counter, for example.
EasyHypo from the Basler Kantonalbank
Although the Basellandschaftlichen Kantonalbank got a 4-year head start on online mortgages, the launch of EasyHypo in 2015 marked the entry of the Basler Kantonalbank (BKB) into the online mortgage club. This online mortgage provider operates under its own brand, but includes the BKB logo in it’s branding.
Initially, the lender provided 5-10 year fixed rate mortgages. As of yet, these are only available to homeowners in German-speaking Switzerland looking for a prime mortgage for their primary residence.
Mortgages in comparison