You can find these offers in the Kleinanzeigen/Petites annonces (classifieds section) and then look for Immobilienteil/Immeuble (property). There you will find Vermietungen/Louage (flats to rent) and Wohnangebote/A vendre (flats to buy). Some cities have free newspapers with housing adverts. Notice boards with ads can also be found in supermarkets, churches and consulates.
Many papers have a website where they publish ads before print publication – this can be a real help to get a head-start on the best places.. There are also specialised websites for housing classifieds, such as www.homegate.ch and www.wgzimmer.ch (concentrates on flat-sharing).
When the ad gives a telephone number you should call as early as possible (from 7.30 a.m., unless stated otherwise) to make an appointment. Be aware that adverts can easily attract up to 100 phone calls. Landlords sometimes collect offers and then make joint appointments with applicants.
When the advert shows a Chiffre, you must send a letter to the newspaper quoting the Chiffre number, which is then sent to the advertiser. This is obviously more work than calling, but for this reason you will be competing with less people so it can be worth the effort.
Advertisements can be placed by property owners, real estate agents or by vacating tenants looking for someone to take over their lease before the notice period expires (see our section on contracts). Someone leaving an apartment will usually include Nachmieter gesucht in the ad and this can be a good way of avoiding estate agency fees. However, the vacating tenant might ask you to purchase some his furniture and kitchen equipment (an Abstand). An Abstand can be a better option than buying everything yourself, if priced reasonably.