Chapter 7: A Guide to Investigating an Apartment
Do not be wary of investing resources and time into the investigation of an apartment, even if you are outside of Israel. In financial terms, the expenses will be minuscule in proportion to the value of a successful transaction, and in practical terms, the value you can obtain through assurance that the apartment in question is worth purchasing is priceless. Although there are many ways to approach and investigate an apartment, we recommend implementing a three-tiered approach, which can be accomplished either remotely or in person.
Step 1: Assessing the Environment:
Ask your real estate agent the right questions about the neighborhood, for example, as pertaining to “fit.” Can you live with the neighborhood’s residents in terms of age demographics, culture, family orientations, religious affiliation, ethnicity, language, and politics? Some Israeli neighborhoods, for instance, can be more accommodating to non-Hebrew speakers than others. Others are heavily populated with immigrants from certain parts of the world. In our experience, the significance of “fit” cannot be overestimated.
Further questions relating to the environment can relate to the socio-economic condition of the neighborhood, for example: if you have children, will the neighborhood be a healthy environment for them? Will it be, for you? It is recommended to ask a knowledgeable source about the neighborhood’s ambiance both during daytime and at night.
Other relevant questions can pertain to “quality of life.” Quality of air, roads, water, and municipal and local services such as educational institutions (if relevant) should be investigated. Additionally, the proximity of schools, public transport, religious institutions, parks, workspace, retail shops, groceries, medical facilities, and restaurants can play a huge role in your quality of life.
Step 2: Assessing the Building
Don’t forget that you will be physically living in the building just as much as the apartment itself. Therefore, you should devote close attention to the building’s maintenance levels. Investigate the continuity of fees paid for its upkeep by residents, and the motivation and commitment of the other tenants to keep the building in high maintenance.
If possible, it is strongly recommended to ask a representative of the shared building (va’ad ha bayit) or a current resident or renter within the building, about relations between neighbors in the apartment building. Also check the condition of the courtyard, elevator, other open spaces, garbage disposal room, stairwell, and other areas.
Step 3: Assessing the Apartment Itself
Besides for general impression, wetness, noise, plumbing, general maintenance, airflow, and electrical systems should be checked by a qualified professional before a contract is signed. If a renter currently inhabits the premises, you should request to view the renter’s contract.