Over this time, and especially now, I have been receiving many questions from English speakers who are interested in purchasing Israeli real estate — they often ask about purchasing from abroad, changes to foreign tax laws, understanding changing demand in various neighborhoods, and financing. In light of the recent boom in demand, I have begun a series of articles to answer your most burning questions.
Mazel! You have just decided on the most important features of your dream house or apartment in Israel – and as a next step, you begin searching for a real estate agent to make your dreams come to fruition. This is undoubtedly an exciting time, and perhaps even overwhelming, as there is a plethora of decisions to be made, and many agents who may be eager to aid you on your new journey. Though you may be ready to jump in, choosing an agent is a vital step that should not be taken lightly – your agent will be your first and most significant contact in your search, managing your expectations with trust, honesty and reliability. Most often, you will find a real estate agent through a personal recommendation from family or friends who have also bought in Israel – and this is a good way to find an agent that will earn your trust with ease. However, if you do not have that yet, do not fret. Reviews of real estate agents are always accessible online, and once you have found one with reliable reviews, it is both clever and common to ask him or her for further references.
Upon a first conversation, your potential broker should listen to your wish list and expectations, and manage those expectations based on your budget and desires. He or she should have access to software that lists what is being sold, and what has recently sold, though he or she should also show great off-hand general knowledge of the market, as well as more specific knowledge of what has recently sold in the area. When you have chosen a broker whom you trust and understand your needs, sticking with that broker will save you time, without a need to “shop around” for another. Go with your gut feeling here – and if you see any ‘red flags’ in a broker’s communication, especially early on, this is something to think about seriously. Red flags include putting other agents down, being too pushy, over communicating, showing a lack of patience, applying pressure on you to buy an apartment before you see it, and not agreeing to your schedule.
Here is what you can expect from a good real estate agent – the agent may show you a range of options suited to your taste, some being lower than your budget, some higher, and hopefully some that are just right. Once expectations are managed, the agent will continue to discuss with you your options to find the home that is right for you. They will often recommend several options in the process of crafting a team that may include a real estate attorney, mortgage broker, and designer or architect, and it is important that you do some of your own research when heeding their recommendations. If you do not speak Hebrew yourself, it is beneficial for this team to be bilingual in English and Hebrew for flawless communication.
Finding your agent, your team, and your new home is an extremely rewarding experience if done correctly. In summary, our greatest piece of advice is to keep in mind that an agent’s skill is not simply knowing the market, but their ability to manage expectations and build a positive relationship with a team of trusted advisors, and most importantly, with you.
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