Beth G. Kopin
Inches to Metric: Zionism Through Design

Inches to Metric: Buying A Home in Israel

I decided I’d write a series on how to buy a home in Israel and the shenanigans that sometimes/often accompany the process. This column is being formatted in a  Q + A style. Each one of these questions/points are worthy of discussion. Some questions may be grouped as the points get addressed in upcoming posts… 

1Where are you looking to buy? Near water, Old City/Jerusalem, the Spiritual North, arid desert, tech/cosmopolitan city?

2In which type of neighborhood would you prefer to live?  Amongst Israelis, Americans/Anglos Europeans, religious, mixed?

3If you are a shul (synagogue) goer which kind of davening (prayer service) do you prefer and how close is it to where you are hoping to buy?

4Which type of accommodations would you like to be in? High-rise or  low-rise apartment, penthouse, garden apartment, townhouse, villa (free standing home).

5Will this home be your primary residence, second home or vacation/holiday home?

6-What size apartment do you want/need?

7Buy on paper as new construction, or newly built and completed,  as an existing shell and finishing it? Buy existing/old and in need of a renovation?

8What do you need in an apartment? 

  • Thermopane/weather tight windows?
  • Drywall vs cinderblock walls?
  • Blinds, manual or electric?
  • Security system? Bars on windows?
  • Water heater? Solar only, Yonkers/instant boiler, combo?
  • Ventilation fans baths/kitchen?
  • Parking? Reserved spot, outside lot or covered parking? Non-drivers, proximity to transportation?
  •  Storage room? How big is the storage area and where is the storage located?
  •  Is there adequate storage in the apartment?
  • Kitchen, kosher/passover?
  • Appliances, American /European?
  • Electric capacity, internet, cable, underfloor heating, climate control, smart home?
  • Elevator, Shabbat/freight?
  • Lighting? How many fixtures/cans are in the unit?
  • Natural light, sun exposure?
  • View? Outdoor space? Terraces, covered, kosher for Sukkot?
  • Waste removal/recycle?

Once you have some idea as to what you want/think you want…The following is a general information and helpful hints section:

9-On average how much does it cost to buy a home in Israel? How much does it cost per square foot/meter? To build out/renovate?

10-How do you find a good realtor?

11Marketing terms…
4 room home = living room and three bedrooms. Penthouse is one level below the top, with a half penthouse above. Villa, free standing house. First floor is the one above the entry.

Apartments are sold by the square meter. One square meter = 10.76 Feet (I usually multiply square meter by 10 then add in a tiny bit to quickly get approximate total of size of home for square foot equivalent).

13Floor plans:
Israeli plans are very different than US standards. Metric dimensions, symbols, scale of plan.

14-When is the best time to look for a home?

15Check for water issues…

16-Buying on paper… Very tricky business

17Legal stuff:
How do I get a mortgage? How big a mortgage can I get? Set up a bank account? What taxes should I expect for the closing? Get a lawyer to represent my purchase? Transfer money? Get a phone line, internet, security system? Is it difficult for a non Israeli to buy in Israel?

How do I get a designer, contractor?
What is a project manager, do I need one?
Where can I find building materials?
Where do I buy appliances, furniture, household items?

19-Israeli Construction methods: Need I say more?

20When sending a lift from the US, what is most valuable/practical to send?

Stay tuned for my experiences and thoughts.

About the Author
Beth Kopin is a trained interior architectural designer from the US. She has experience in the design/construction world that spans thirty years, and works and lives in both Chicago and Arnona, Jerusalem. She commutes regularly between the two cities. She brings her work ethic, training and US standards to Israel. Beth has surrounded herself with extremely talented trades. Her design team developed a way to CAD (computer aided design) plans in both US and metric standards. This enables both the US born clients (some of which live in Israel, some as second homes), and Israeli trades to better understand the plans, ensuring a more fluid communication. She is able to help bridge the gap of cultural differences, manage expectations, relate often confusing metric standards, as well as all the basic elements of designing a beautiful and functional home.,
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