Shia Getter

Navigating the Field of Real Estate in Israel vs. America

Welcome to the third and final part of our series on the differences in the property purchase process in Israel and America. In this post, we embark on an exploration of three fundamental differences that define these distinct and ever-evolving real estate landscapes.

Equipping yourself with a comprehensive understanding of the nuances will empower you to approach property transactions in Israel from a place of knowledge and confidence. While we merely skim the surface of this expansive subject, the insights gained here will serve as a valuable compass for navigating the intricate terrain of the Israeli market…

Understand the Market Dynamics

When properties sell overnight or in less than 24 hours in America, it’s considered news. The market in those cities or zip codes is smoking hot. And it usually doesn’t last long. In fact, most of us generally only find ourselves in the unfortunate position of buying (and not selling) under such conditions, right? Within a few months, things inevitably cool and slow down…

But in Israel the regular market can be like this — an overnight sale doesn’t surprise anyone. It’s not unusual for apartments to be sold before they officially go on the market, for multiple buyers to vie for the same property, and for properties to sell at record speed, especially if they’re in the Greater Yerushalayim area or central Israel and going for a good price.

But just because properties sell fast doesn’t mean that buyers have to feel pressured or make thoughtless decisions. The best ways to keep your head on straight in such a market are: 

  • to be clear on what you’re looking for ahead of time
  • to know your budget and be aware of your financing options in advance
  • to get informed about the market and the purchase process before you buy
  • to have an educated and objective third party to run things by
  • to work with known experts who have a reputation for honesty and professionalism
  • to pray for Heavenly help and clarity before taking the plunge.

Acquaint Yourself With the Brokers

If you want to buy a home, you generally engage a real estate agent to find you a property… This is the “buyer’s agent.” When they take you to see various properties, they make the arrangements through the “listing agent.” The buyer’s agent represents you and the listing agent represents the sellers.

Not so in Israel.

Although of course there are agents who will show properties to buyers in Israel, almost all the real estate agents here act as listing agents. They’ll show you properties listed to them or to their company. Even when they show you properties listed to a third party, there’s usually no one specifically looking out for your rights, because in Israel almost everyone is focused on making the seller happy. It’s a seller’s market, after all.

So what can you do to make sure someone’s looking out for you? Engage the services of a buyer’s broker and advocate who will make sure the terms are good for you, the buyer. It makes all the difference.

Navigate the Financial Landscape

You may have heard people from Israel discussing or mentioning their mortgage broker. Is it really such a common thing? Why can’t you just walk into a bank and arrange a mortgage?

In America, mortgages tend to be (and there are always exceptions, of course) fairly straightforward. In Israel (not surprisingly) nothing is straightforward. Enter the mortgage broker. A mortgage broker can secure a way better deal on a loan than an individual buyer. A mortgage broker with connections to multiple banks will be able to obtain more favorable rates than a mortgage broker who works with only one or two banks in particular. 

A mortgage broker who has been on the scene a long time and has years of experience will usually be able to piece together an entire financing package, with different types of mortgages and loans, depending on your needs and the type of property you’re purchasing. Even extremely experienced American real estate investors have told us how surprised they were by the types of mortgages available — and not available — on the Israeli market. In fact, while the Bank of Israel mortgage rate is 4.75, we are getting mortgages at around 4.8. How is that even possible? Welcome to Israel.

Embrace the Obstacles and Discover the Potential

We’re glad you joined us on Part III of our three-part exploration of the nuances of buying a home in Israel versus America. As you’ve seen, the Israeli real estate market presents its own set of distinctive procedures and elements, differing from the more familiar practices of the American market. While the path to homeownership in Israel may come with unique obstacles, the unparalleled potential of living in the homeland of the Jewish people and establishing a lasting legacy in the Land make it an irresistible opportunity.

Wherever you choose to purchase your home or to invest in real estate, conducting thorough research and seeking expert guidance are vital. Especially in Israel, it can be crucial to understand the vastly different legal and cultural practices. With thoughtful research, scrutiny, and education, you can come to the purchase process prepared with confidence and armed with knowledge. 

The Getter Group is consistently working to educate foreigners who want to buy property in Israel, to empower them to go into their purchases armed with confidence and knowledge. If you’d like to learn more about the property purchase process in Israel, contact us to find out about our upcoming Israel Real Estate Conference, to be held in the Tri-State Area at the end of August.

The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only, based on the most accurate data available at the time of writing. However, we cannot guarantee that all the information presented herein remains complete, current, or error-free. Therefore, readers are advised to independently verify any information for the most recent updates. 

For more information, contact The Getter Group in Israel at 718.473.3950 or in our new Tri-State office at 732.490.1624 or by email at 

About the Author
Shia Getter is known in Israeli real estate circles for “the man with common sense.” Having moved to Israel 12 years ago, Shia understands what rough experiences many people not used to the local ways of doing business can get entangled with. His company, the Getter Group, is Jerusalem’s #1 sales and brokerage services company, and trusted source of information, ensuring clients get the right investment, covering their bases and checking that they are getting full value and security for their hard earned money.