Chapter 5: Choosing the right real estate agent
To utilize the services of an Israeli real estate agent, one typically begins with signing a “Request For Real Estate Brokerage Services,” form. The document can be signed remotely or in person, and typically contains basic information about you, the specific property, and the commission rate due to the real estate agent. It is recommended to review the contents of any form or authorization between yourself and a real estate agent very carefully, to avoid the risk of “small print.” The Israel Real Estate Agent Law – 1996 as well as the code of the ethics of the Israel Real Estate Brokers’ Association govern the professional obligations and responsibilities of real estate agents in Israel.
In contrast with other countries which have implemented a system of separate real estate agencies for buyers and sellers, in Israel, one Israeli real estate agent typically represents both a buyer and seller. Be aware that the customary commission rate charged by real estate agents in Israel is 4%, about half (2%) paid by the buyer and about half by the seller. The fee becomes payable during escrow, after you’ve signed a contractual agreement with the seller, but before you’ve taken possession of the apartment. The real estate agent’s commission fee can be negotiable, depending on the agent in question.You might work with more than one real estate agent, and from our experience should never be obligated to pay an agent anything unless you’ve decided to buy their apartment. Remember that if your real estate agent is successful and you find and buy the right apartment through them, the agent’s fee will have been a successful investment.It is advised to be cautious when working with an Israeli real estate agent. For example, revealing what you’re willing to pay for an apartment while offering the seller a much lower price could backfire, because no matter how kind or persuasive a real estate agent can be, an agent could sometimes be trying to persuade you to buy a flawed, less desirable apartment due to a conflict of interest, or a desire for commission. In our experience, a good agent will always answer your questions, no matter what.A good agent will also disclose to you any vested interest in the transaction (for example, if they’ve purchased and/or sold the apartment before), so don’t choose an agent who can’t or won’t give clear, pointed answers to every question you have. As you relationship with the agent is governed by unified contract law, legally speaking you have the right to demand transparency and good faith.Many real estate brokers publish online listings of apartments on which they have brokered sales. We recommend to take advantage of this and choose to work only with those who clearly possess successful experience brokering sales of the kind of apartment you want to buy, in addition to being forthright.
Chapter 6: Using the internet to look for, price, and research apartments
The internet contains a wealth of information that can help you learn about the Israeli real estate market including different neighbourhoods and cities in Israel, as well as price apartments accurately. It also contains sales listings for ten of thousands of Israeli apartments. Therefore, even you don’t end up finding an apartment to buy online, there is a chance you will want to spend time online gaining relevant information that will help you be successful in picking and buying an apartment.
Databases:One of the best starting place online is the Israel Tax Authority’s online real estate database, accessed via www.nadlan.gov.il, offering one the ability to view every real estate transaction in Israel by parcel. In practical terms, this means you can search for an apartment building in Israel and view its entire sales transaction history going back decades, and including basic information about all apartments which have been bought and sold going back multiple decades, such as number of rooms and storeys, number of sales transactions, and price. This can be an invaluable tool to help you know how much money to offer in your initial offer. Although the website is in Hebrew, there is also a map-based search tool, and you may sort search results by street and neighbourhoodA second prominent online database is published by the online secondhand broker “yad2,” which is the equivalent of “craigslist” in Israel. The database, available at www.yad2.co.il, saves and agglomerates data from all apartments listed which have been sold. One may also view pictures of the apartment, if uploaded by the seller, in addition to viewing apartments’ location and the prices of transactions.
Search engines:As the quantity of potential information available online is nearly unlimited and can become overwhelming, free form search engines such as Google can be accurate and precise tools to narrow your parameters while still searching the entire internet. Search engines can also turn up free advice and articles which can help you be more informed. Besides for direct, relevant information, you could also end up finding a relevant ancillary search tool, community, or database by using a search engine correctly.
Social Media:Portals like Facebook and Youtube have recently expanded in popularity for real estate listings, and real estate agents also usually maintain an active social media presence for this same purpose. One can usually find such groups by surfing to the relevant platform and using accurate search terms, and often, some real estate agents are available to chat electronically via these social media portals, where they can answer any questions you might have about the Israeli real estate market.
Multimedia: Once you have an apartment in mind, tools like Google Maps and Street View can be very useful in learning about an apartment’s vicinity, thereby helping ascertain an apartment’s suitability for you. Visualizing a specific apartment’s area, street, and nearby commercial outlets can help you decide if you can see yourself living in the area, and can be a first step towards the topic of the next article.