Jura, a real estate Eldorado?

30 november 2020 - The latest of the Swiss cantons, which became sovereign in 1979, Jura is catching up and today has a strong level of attractiveness in real estate, with large projects and very interesting yields. Interview with the young property developer Allan Visintainer, 30, at the head of the company Les Forestiers du Jura, in Porrentruy.

Jura, a real estate Eldorado?

- As someone who knows the region well, what is the current real estate situation in the canton of Jura?

- I would say that the evolution of the canton of Jura over the last ten years is absolutely incredible, largely thanks to the efforts of the Jura government, which wanted and worked for this development. But also, particularly thanks to strong personalities who have been able to make it shine abroad, such as the former minister and mayor of Delémont Pierre Kohler, a true visionary, or Hubert Jaquier, the head of the canton's urban planning. There are also other factors, such as the inauguration of the A16, the famous Transjurane, which opened the canton of Jura to the rest of Switzerland, or the inauguration of the Belfort-Montbéliard TGV station in Méroux, 20 minutes from Porrentruy, which helped to open up this new Promised Land that is the Jura today. Property prices, historically low mortgage rates, the opening up and work of the elected representatives, as well as the canton's position at the centre of Europe, have all contributed to this dazzling development of the canton. 

- Are there any notable differences between the three districts that make up the Canton of Jura: Delémont, Franches-Montagnes and Ajoie?

- The three districts have one thing in common today: a lot of demand but very little supply. In just a few years, prices have become significantly higher than in previous years, and as a result our customers are becoming more and more demanding.

- What major construction projects are currently under way in the canton of Jura?

- In close cooperation with the state for more than two years, we have been leading the project for the urban park in Delémont (La Sorne residence, with 48 flats). This daring construction project meets the "2000 watt" standards (one of the three Swiss constructions to date based on innovative energy systems, intelligent management of resources and consistent involvement in renewable energies). There are, of course, ongoing cultural and sports projects that are just as ambitious, at several million, such as the Théâtre du Jura in Delémont, the skating rink and the swimming pool in Porrentruy. 

- Are public-private partnerships frequent and desirable in your view in the canton of Jura?

- It was obvious that the Confederation would not let the 26th and youngest Swiss canton fall behind, as the subsidy programmes would serve the owners, better housing quality and satisfied occupants. Public-private partnerships are absolutely essential; it is important that projects are developed in cooperation with the authorities in order to best meet the expectations of the market. It is also often necessary to have the support of the municipalities when the project is large enough. They often have the means at their disposal for the proper development of the real estate programme; this is typically the case of a project for the construction of a storage site for craftsmen, currently being developed by our company, which would not have been possible without the help and skills of the City of Porrentruy.

- Where do the people who invest in real estate in the Jura mainly come from?

- What surprises us every day is the diversity of our contacts. Real estate reassures and attracts a wide variety of investors. We have non-professional clients, such as young investors or private individuals managing their assets, but above all many institutional real estate investors (insurance companies, banks, pension funds or investment funds). Whether they are Swiss or foreign, they are looking for high-potential properties in the Jura that offer excellent returns. The rise in prices in neighbouring cantons (Basel or Bern), the low quality of supply, the very low price per square metre in the Jura, and the very low mortgage rates mean that yields are close to 8% net and around 15% on equity capital. It can be said that the Jura is a bit like Switzerland's new Eldorado.

- You have been established in Porrentruy for several years. How did you come to be in this region?

- I have been living in Porrentruy for about 10 years. Initially I was in Geneva, where I wanted to set up a company bringing together several real estate services, i.e. brokerage, management, site supervision, etc. I was also interested in the development of a new business in Porrentruy. This is the case here today. We have rigorous, solid and professional staff, which enables us to satisfy the usual requirements of our clients, often from outside the canton, to the best of our ability. Our team was created by a lawyer friend of ours, mandated by the Economic Promotion of the Canton of Jura. After having established excellent contacts, we settled here. The real estate world in the French-speaking part of Switzerland is tough: this is surely the reason why investors come to the Jura.

- Have you become a true Jura citizen?

- I will never be a Jura citizen in the true sense of the word, as my roots are in another canton, but I believe that with a great deal of love for the Jura, kindness and a spirit of adaptation, doors open naturally. If the Jura market is profitable and lucrative, the fact remains that you have to know the terrain extremely well, have integrated patiently into it, and have built up an important network of relationships. I would advise any investor against venturing there without the help of a real estate professional.

Interview by Paul Henry

Article published in the Magazine immobilier.ch in May 2019