What to know before buying a home in Israel
If you’ve chosen to buy a home in Israel, congratulations! You are about to go on one of the most meaningful and exciting journeys of your life. If you’re overwhelmed by the process, we’ve broken down what you need to know before buying a home into bite-sized pieces.
1. What area you want to live
To understand where you want to live, start with the general picture. Is it important to you to be near the beach? To have a house rather than an apartment? Would you feel out-of-place in a highly religious neighborhood? Do you prefer living in a lively city or a mid-sized town?
Once you’ve decided which factors are the biggest deal breakers to you, you can start looking at specific cities and towns. Then, narrow down by area or neighborhood – remember that these have a great bearing on the day-to-day living experience of a city.
It’s important to be flexible and open-minded, but don’t be afraid to be specific when it comes to the location that you want. This will give you a narrower scope on which to focus your energy, and make sure that you don’t end up in a house you love in a place you don’t.
If you are able to travel to Israel, or come to visit anyway, consider staying for a few days in your potential location. Sometimes the ‘feel’ of a place is enough to tell you that it will be your future home. Moreover, you can get a far more subjective and authentic sense of the local community, which is vital when moving to Israel – both because the society is more communal, and because having a strong support network is extremely beneficial for new immigrants.
If you aren’t able to travel, use the Internet. Facebook groups are popular in Israel, especially with new immigrants. Try joining the local one for your city and neighborhood, and after taking a look at the posts, don’t be afraid to reach out to residents to ask them about their experience. It’s best to come with specific questions to avoid misunderstandings or subjective answers. Read more>>>
2. Your budget (including the costs of hidden fees)
Budgets dictate what is possible. If having a multi-storey house rather than an apartment is important to you, but you’re on a budget of less than a million dollars, you’ll most likely have very little luck in the center of Tel Aviv.
Make sure that when browsing properties, you convert the shekel price to your local currency and take a look at how that number has changed over the past few months. The currency exchange rate can be unpredictable and quick to change, and buying a property takes a while. By the time you are ready to convert the money and pay the transactional fees, it may have changed in or against your favor. It’s best to check how the currency affects the price over a few months to get a better idea of the range you might be paying.
You’ll also need to make sure that when you’re setting your budget, you take into account lawyers’ fees, estate agents’ fees, taxes, the legal fees you may have to pay a developer, appraisal costs, and any repairs you might need to do, as well as the cost of moving. Some of these operate on a percentage rate, which means that the upper end of your budget may be less affordable than you expected.
3. Your status – rights and expenses
Your legal status will make a great difference to your experience. A new immigrant is entitled to certain benefits when it comes to buying a property, from a substantial discount on property tax to assistance with paying the mortgage. Given how expensive properties can be, this can offer the freedom that will allow you to stretch to the upper limit of your budget.
On the other hand, if you are a foreign resident with no intention of making aliyah, you may be subject to a higher property fee, and the process may also be complicated by transactional fees and processes.
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Remember, your status will depend on many factors. Jewish people claiming Israeli citizens for the first time have a different status to Israeli citizens who left the country as infants. Learn the differences between different statuses and understand where their rights diverge.