If you’ve ever rented any property in Israel, you might have signed a contract you didn’t understand because you were told it was standard. You soon learned that as a tenant, the only thing included in the rent are the walls of the property. You had to pay for everything, as if you owned the place, including property taxes, which are adjusted by the City for each tenant. You can rent for years for a hefty price and never have any claim.
Buying real estate in Israel is an exciting prospect. A piece of the holy land, or any land in one’s name, gives a feeling of truly belonging and stability. Nobody will tell you what you can or can’t do, you’ll never be asked to leave for any reason and you will own something of increasing value, unlike anything else you’ll buy. Israelis love America, so the process shouldn’t be much different from land purchases abroad, right? Very, very wrong.
Antiquated laws and procedures, some dating back to the British occupation and yet others back to the Turkish occupation under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire, make assumptions nothing more than a mental activity that no one should ever act on. In Israel, they say that all the real estate agents know all the lawyers. You should not move without top of the line, competent, legal counsel, unless you want to gamble with your investment capital.
A Number of Things To Keep in Mind
- Even if you got the highest scores in Hebrew, know the words to most popular and old Hebrew songs, speak fluently, understand Hebrew language programs and read without difficulty, you will almost certainly NOT understand a contract. This is not, by any means, a personal affront. You’re a rock star but know your limitations. Only a real estate lawyer in Israel will help you avoid any snafus.
- Real estate agents are there to make money. They actually studied and passed exams to be licensed and will cut any corners they can to get their cut. They also won’t warn you or advise you in any way that will protect your interests. They won’t do the homework for you or practice due diligence. They are there to SELL, at any cost.
- Buying a property is a serious commitment. Find out about neighborhoods before deciding where to look. Take everything into consideration, such as population, ease of transportation, quality of construction and everything else that is important to you in a house that you will make your home.
- Once you narrow your search, have your Israeli real estate attorney research the property and make sure there are no liens and that it is registered in the seller’s name, in the Land Registry Office, called Tabu (a term left over from the Turkish regime).
- When meeting for the first time with the seller/s, the real estate agent will be present, as well as at least one attorney and everything will be recorded in the minutes of the meeting, including handing over the downpayment and securing the rights to buy in your name. All terms will be written and that document will be an inseparable part of your file.
David Page law offices will steer you through the entire process, including payment of all filing fees and taxes involved.