Transitioning into Israel as an American: Buying Property

As an American, I decided that it would be in the best interest of my family to move to Israel. It was a major decision, and it’s one that has taught me a lot. I have learned that the dating world is difficult in a new country, Israelis like hiring “their own,” and there’s also a lot to like: great markets, an amazing startup scene and so much more.

My decision to move was a life-changing event, but there was one thing I learned perhaps a little too late.

Purchasing property in Israel is easy.

Now, it may have been easier to move into a second home than trying to navigate the rental market. Non-citizens can purchase real estate in Israel. And this means that if you’re transitioning to a new life in Israel, you can potentially buy a home before you move there.

This allows for more of an “at-home” feel, and it also allows you to have a firm place to lay your head at night.

But, then again, there is a big stigma against foreigners buying up property in Israel. Perhaps my family may have been worse off if I chose to purchase property in Israel from the start. There’s no denying that there’s a housing shortage, and it’s easy to see why so many Israelis are bitter about the current real estate situation.

Even apartments are being purchased by foreigners, and this leaves real estate prices too high for many Israelis. Foreigners are buying property all over the world, so buying a second home here just to test the waters may not have been in my best interest.

However, it is possible to buy a vacation home or second home in Israel even if you’re an American. It’s a luxury that other countries may not offer, and it allows for a much easier transition into a new country.

You’ll also find that the process is much more difficult if you need to factor in other costs: lawyer fees, transfer fees, purchase tax and the like. Lenders will also be different than in the US, and it’s much easier to buy in cash than it is to navigate Israel’s lender rules.

Buyers will pay a customary 2% plus VAT fee to agents.

You may pay up to 12% in additional costs for a property. This would put a $200,000 property up $24,000, so it’s a significant difference compared to the US.

Foreign buyers can take out up to 50% of the home’s value in a mortgage – that’s a huge difference from the 3.5% low for first-time homebuyers in the United States.

If you’re like me and assumed that it would be difficult to buy property in Israel, it’s not. The only mistake is not asking enough questions and trying to get a pulse on the market. You’ll find that there’s a lot that goes into the process, including making sure that the property is in a good area. But from a purely transitioning standpoint, buying a property before moving to Israel is a definite possibility.

About the Author
 Jacob Maslow is passionate about writing. For more than ten years, he's used that passion to transform the web presence of a number of legal and medical professionals in creative, innovative and effective ways that get them noticed in a crowded field. Jacob is originally from Brooklyn. He packed up his five children and made Aliyah in 2014. Jacob's experience and varied interests lend themselves to a diverse palette of topics ranging from technology, marketing, politics, social media, ethics, current affairs, family matters and more. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys being an active member of social media including groups on Facebook and taking in the latest movies. 
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