There are Plenty of Differences in Purchasing Real Estate in Israel vs. America
There are several notable differences between purchasing real estate in Israel versus America to bear in mind during your house hunting process.
In the United States, the broker represents the seller, and they charge approximately 5-6%+ sales tax to sell the home.
In Israel, both the seller and the buyer pay the broker’s fee of 2%+ sales tax.
The real difference between the two is that in Israel, though the buyer is paying the fee, they are also receiving representation. The broker’s role is to relay expert information and their understanding of the market, present viable options available to them, and negotiate for the buyer in order to get the best deal possible.
In America, only the seller pays the broker’s fee, and it is the broker’s job to do everything in their power to find a buyer for the home and get the most amount of money possible out of the deal for the seller. In this case, the broker’s priority lies with the seller, and they do not care too much about the interests of the buyer.
In the United States, Zillow is a very large and popular platform for sellers and buyers alike. Zillow is a simple platform that shows all of the relevant information about a home, and can be filtered to show buyers what their specific parameters are.
In Israel, such a platform does not exist, and the advertising options are a bit limited. There are large groups on Facebook as well as some phone applications and websites, but otherwise, most of the quality options will be found through the use of a trusted real estate agent with an excellent network. Particularly for those who don’t speak Hebrew, a real estate agent is crucial to finding the best opportunities on the market.
In the United States, homes are measured in square feet, while in Israel, they are measured in square meters.
This is a very important factor to keep in mind during your house hunting process.
You will need to be careful to understand the sizes and see units that meet your size requirements.
10.7 sqf = 1 sqm!
Rooms vs. Bedrooms
In the United States, homes are advertised as having x amount of bedrooms, while in Israel, properties are categorized as having y amount of rooms.
In Israel, the number of rooms advertised = the number of bedrooms + a living room (AKA “salon”). For example, if you are looking for a 3 bedroom apartment, you will want to find units that are listed as having 4 rooms.
Be sure to keep this in mind when looking for a home, especially if you are not using a real estate agent!
Taxes and Fees
It is important to remember that there are various taxes and fees associated with buying property in Israel that may not exist in the United States.
When you purchase a property in Israel, you are required to pay a purchase tax dependent on the price of the property and on your personal circumstances. You must seek advice from a qualified accountant or lawyer to understand your situation and how much you will be required to pay.
Additionally, Arnona is a municipal tax that must be paid on your property, unless you are renting it out long-term. On a standard 1100 sqf apartment in the prime neighborhoods of Jerusalem, you’re looking at roughly 2.5-3.5k USD/year. Larger apartments (around 2500 sqf) run between 5-8k USD/year.
Role of the Attorney
While it is certainly a good idea to hire a reputable attorney in any country in which you are conducting a large transaction, in Israel, the role of the attorney is pivotal.
In Israel, every contract is an individual contract, there is no standard contract that is accepted by everyone without a need for a lawyer’s review. Moreover, in Israel there are no contingencies when signing a contract, so all of your legal ducks need to be in a row before signing to avoid any problems down the line.
In America, deeds and title insurance exist for the buyers’ protection, as well as an escrow period where any problems can be sorted out before the final purchase; however, this is not the case in Israel. Therefore, the attorney’s role is even more crucial here in order to properly protect your rights.
In sum, buying property in Israel is a complicated process with various systems in place that varies drastically from that of the United States. Don’t let this scare you! Keeping in mind the above points, and using a team of qualified professionals, your purchase process can be smooth and (relatively) stress-free.
Are you ready to take the leap? To start the search for the home of your dreams in Israel, contact us today!