Buying Real Estate in Israel

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Israel is a small country with many options for foreigners to buy real estate. As some of this sector is not regulated, it is important for buyers to conduct inspections of the prospective property, as well as hire a real estate agent to help complete this process. Foreigners also need to understand the differences between public and private land in Israel before buying property.

Attorneys and Real Estate Agents

Foreign buyers should hire a real estate attorney when buying property in Israel. There is no standardized escrow process or escrow companies; Israel also does not have title insurance. The attorneys are there to look out for the best interests of their clients from start to finish.  They are also the ones who handle most of the bureaucratic process, which is burdensome and confusing to those who are not familiar with it. Though the buyer and seller can share a common attorney, there could be a potential conflict of interest between these parties, so it is a good idea for the buyer to get his or her own attorney.

More likely than not, foreign buyers will end up working with real estate agents in the desired region they wish to purchase real estate.

Rules, Regulations and Restrictions

People who are interested in buying real estate in Israel should know that there are two types of land.

The first is Minhal land, which is state-owned property that is administered by the government. To acquire property on this type of land, the buyer will have to obtain a long-term lease that lasts 49 years,  with an option to renew for another 49 years. The second type is private land, which is owned by an individual, and the title is registered under his or her name. Though private land is usually preferred, foreign buyers should not necessarily turn down the idea of buying real estate on Minhal land, because it makes up about 80% of the land in Israel.

General Process

First, the buyer should settle on a property, and make an offer to its seller. Upon approval, a general contract should be drawn up, outlining the price, date of transfer and other important details on this transaction. It is not uncommon for the buyer to put down a deposit to secure the property at this stage. Before signing anything, the buyer should be sure to see the title of the property to be certain that they are dealing with its real owners.

After signing this document, it is advised for the buyer to have the property inspected and appraised, as there is no standardized inspection service in Israel. Homes can be built shoddily, and this could lead to problems in the future.

After making sure the property is legitimate, the buyer should then obtain a real estate attorney. This person will prepare the official sales contract, as well as inspect the title of the property to make sure there are no confusions, hidden fees or ownership conflicts with it. If the property is on Minhal land, the attorney must find out how many years are left in the lease, to make sure there is no potential money owed to the state.

If everything clears, then the buyer and seller should sign the final contract. If the buyer needs to move into the property immediately, they will pay all of the money up front. If the buyer can wait some time before moving in, the money can be paid to the seller in installments, which can be done over the course of a few months to a year.

The title can finally be transferred once the last payment is received by the seller. The attorney will help the buyer in the process of transferring the title, as well as registering its new owner.

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