By Ben Levene
Sales Director
Licensed Real Estate Agent in Israel
CapitIL Real Estate Agency

Property hunting can be a frustrating process, even when the system is familiar. So when the system and the language are totally different, it can be an even more daunting task.

As explained in our previous article, the real-estate markets in Israel and America hold many disparities. Even the manner in which the property is presented to the potential buyer is different.

The starting point for any buyer is to search for properties advertised on the market. In America, the internet portals on which to do so are user-friendly and developed—for example, Zillow and Trulia. Israel’s forums on the other hand, such as Yad2, are all in Hebrew and can sometimes be a bit of a challenge to navigate.

Brokers in Israel have access to more properties on the market than are listed on consumer portals, as there are a number of professional databases and private groups that are only open to real-estate agents. They also speak Hebrew and are much more familiar with the local market. A good broker should be able to understand your needs and provide you with a list of suitable properties to start your search.

Some important differences in how property information is presented are:

  1. Measurements in Israel are in SQM, and in America it’s SQFT: 1 SQM is roughly 10.5 SQFT.
  2. The ground floor in Israel is described as floor 0, while in America it would be described as floor 1. This catches many people by surprise when they’re looking at property listings in Jerusalem.
  3. In Israel, a two-bedroom apartment would be described as a three-room apartment, a three-bedroom as a four-room, and so on. This is because in Israel the standard practice is to include the living room in this number.
  4. As you would expect, in Israel, most apartments are listed in Israeli shekel (NIS) so you must consider the currency conversion rate and potential fluctuations in value when planning your purchase. This is crucial to think about when setting your budget and financial limits.

In general, within the description, there is a high level of detail given in America, the photos shown are of a professional standard, and a floor plan is provided. In Jerusalem, the situation has improved in recent years, but still has some way to go to reach American standards of presentation.

From my experiences with clients, these seemingly small differences, if not understood when searching in Israel, can result in starting the search looking at inappropriate apartments, which can be a source of great frustration.

Being aware of these issues upfront can help ensure a successful purchase and a satisfied customer. If you are thinking of purchasing an apartment in Jerusalem and would like to know more, please feel free to call me and I would be more than happy to go into more detail with you.

CapitIL is located on King David Street in Jerusalem. Email ben@capitil.com, call 646-781-7745, or visit CapitIL.com to learn more.

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