Rehovot has many choices of dwellings to satisfy the needs of most. One can find 1, 2, 3 or 4 bedroom apartments, private homes, duplexes and penthouses with rooftop gardens.
Prices have gone up over the past few years and there are signs that they might be stabilizing or even coming down. It is not impossible to find a 3 bedroom (4 room) apartment in a building with an elevator and parking for under $350,000. Rentals for 3 bedroom apartments usually go for $900 – $1500 per month, not including utilities and municipal taxes (arnona).
The beauty of the city is that most neighborhoods are a short walking distance to the city center. Because of the city’s age, there are many beautiful tree lined residential streets 3 or 4 blocks away from Rechov Herzl. Leave your car at home and bike or walk to the city center. You will find everything you want on Herzl. Take the kids out for pizza, sit at an outdoor cafe, have a glass of wine or stop by a health food store.
Land Ownership in Rehovot
93% of the land in Israel is owned either by the state, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), or the Israel Land Administration (ILA). The ILA is a government agency responsible for managing the public land of Israel. They lease land for 49 or 98 years at a time. Much of the land in Rehovot is NOT leased from the ILA but privately owned by the home owners.
Buying an Apartment
Buying a home in Israel is a very different experience than in North America. There is no Multiple List Service that lists all properties for sale. Each agent or agency will have a list of apartments that they have for sale as well as units they know about. In Israel, the buyer and the seller each pay the agent that makes the “shidduch”. The fees range from 1% to 2% and agents will either include the 17% VAT or add it to the amount. Make sure you know what you are signing for because once you have purchased that apartment you owe the agent the commission.
Renting an Apartment in Rehovot
Rentals are sometimes hard to come by and are quite often not long term. Israel lacks a stable supply of rental apartments and instead relies on individual owners who rent out their apartments. Leases are important and you should use the services of a lawyer. The standard fees for a rental commission to the real estate agent are one months rent. The same applies to the lawyer although if there are detailed negotiations the lawyer may charge more. Try and make sure that you have the right to rent for additional years if you choose. Rent usually does not include arnona (municipal taxes), utilities and vaad bayit.
For additional information on rentals, please check out the Rentals Page.
Who else has a Key to Your Home?
Whether you bought a brand new apartment, a previously owned unit or are renting, someone else may have a key. The last thing you need is to come home and find that someone has entered your home while you were gone. Many apartments in Rehovot have a pladelet, with bars that extend from the door in three or four directions. If the door is working OK, all you need to do is to arrange to have the cylinder replaced. It can usually be done in less than 30 minutes and the cost depends on the quality of cylinder that you choose. Break-ins are common in Israel, so go with a decent brand and a locksmith that you trust. Contact the popular Doctor-Lock.com for reasonably priced and top quality work. Doctor-Lock is based in Rehovot and offers a fast and honest service. Doctor-Lock is available for emergency work 24/6. Phone 058-453-5593 and get that cylinder changed right away!
Tricks of the Trade
If an agent leads you to an apartment and you end up purchasing the unit you must pay a commission fee. There is a form that is filled in and signed for each unit that is shown listing the unit and the percentage of commission you are agreeing to pay. To avoid people finding out where an apartment is located and avoiding the commission, agents usually advertise that the apartment is “in a good area” or ‘on a good street”. If it is a large street with lots of apartments the agent may advertise the name of the street or sometimes they choose a nearby street.
Since there is no listing service, agents know that clients will go from agent to agent to find the unit that they want. Some agents will claim listings by showing apartments that they do have listed but are known through local newspapers. They figure that rather have you walk away and lose one half of the commission they would like to make what they can, and show you a listing for which they only receive commission from you, the buyer. This gets a bit bizarre when agents show you a unit that is advertised in the newspaper and collect commission on the sale. This same unit would be free of commission if the buyer found the apartment on their own by reading the same newspaper the agent is reading. If you do a little of the legwork you can save thousands of dollars in a purchase.
Negotiations are not the same as they are in North America. An offer to purchase is not always a formal procedure, accompanied by a check to the buyer. It is often done on the phone or in a very informal way followed by a temporary agreement. Besides the purchase price and closing date a list is normally drawn up of what the sale includes in terms of appliances, air conditioners and wall units. Keep in mind that many Israelis do not buy an apartment until they sell their own apartment. This creates situations of long closing dates, sometimes as long as a year away from when the deal is made.
What are the “Extras”?
So, you found the home of your dreams and now you are ready to make your purchase. If you are taking out a mortgage you will need to brace yourself. Getting a mortgage in Israel is a long, stressful ordeal that requires patience and a good sense of humor.
Real estate agent
This fee is often quoted at 2% plus VAT but in Rehovot almost nobody pays that amount. The usual fee is 1% – 1.5% either including VAT or in addition. You need to discuss the amount and sign a commitment to pay the agent even before you see the apartment. Since listing are often non-exclusive, it is possible for an agent to show you a listing that he found in a publication, just like you could have found. Once you sign that commitment, you are on the hook for the commission even though you could have bought the unit without a commission. Do your homework and stick with an honest agent that you have received references for. Check out our list of real estate agents in Rehovot.
Real estate lawyer
When you start your apartment search, also search for a lawyer. You might need immediate support and by having a lawyer lined up you can have legal questions answered when you need them. Talk to friends who may have personal recommendations. Check out our list of real estate lawyers in Rehovot.
Some buyers choose to hire an engineer to inspect the apartment. Fees vary depending on which services are needed. One company offers over 20 different services including radon checking and a neighborhood check. If your Hebrew is not up to speed, make sure the engineer gives you a report in English and does not charge extra for the English report. Engineer inspections are usually around $600.00.
Taxes change from time to time so check with your lawyer for the exact amount. Using your rights as an Oleh Chadash, you will pay .5% on the first 1,113,230 NIS with an additional 5% on the balance.
If you are not using your Oleh Chadash rights you would pay 0% on the first 594,705 NIS with an additional 3.5% on an amount between 594,705 and 737,550 shekels and 5% on the amount over 737,550 shekels.
As in any purchase you will pay the seller any prepaid amounts. Arnona (municipal taxes) are paid to the city and Olim chadashim get a discount for the first year on the amount of taxes they pay on the 1st 100 square meters. Vaad Bayit is the monthly maintenance fees that each owner pays to the building and that covers electricity for the hallways, cleaning, gardening etc. There is no concept of a reserve fund that North American condo owners pay into through their maintenance fees so if there are any unexpected expenditures each unit owner has to pay for them.
Keep in mind that you will likely write a check in NIS but the purchase amount is quoted in dollars. You will need to figure the best way of converting the dollars on time at the best rate.
How to Find a Home
Besides using real estate agents there are a number of other ways of finding a home in Rehovot. There are two publications that are distributed for free in Rehovot that contains listings of apartments and villas for sale. Gal Gefen (they have a web site which has localized listings but we found that many of the listings were old). There ads are listed according to city and number of rooms in the apartment. A FOUR room apartment is a THREE bedroom unit. The normal way of counting rooms is the number of bedrooms plus one for the living room and kitchen. Apartments are measured in square meters and because of the system might be one figure on the deed and another in reality. More recent units include parking, machsan (locker) and a portion of the common area (stairwell and lobby) in the total size of the apartment. 100 square meters in one apartment may not be 100 square meters in another.
There are a few web sites that also list property for sale. www.yad2.co.il and www.homeless.co.il are both great resources for finding apartments. Yad2 is also a good place to look for cars. We have found that owners will advertise their apartments at very high amounts largely because there are no published lists of units that have been sold with their prices. This creates a situation where owners, not knowing how to prices their units and not having the advice of a real estate agent, look at the published lists of units for sale and ask similarly inflated prices as their neighbors. After attempting to sell at an unrealistic price the asking price may drop. If you are there at the right time with the right offer the apartment can be yours.
Mortgages – How to Save Some Money
One of the worst parts of buying a home in Israel is dealing with the banks to get a mortgage. Navigating the system can be difficult if you do not know the ins and the outs. Now there are mortgage advisors who guide you throuh the system. They typically take a fee which is usually more than made up by a lower mortgage rate. Ariel Vered has been involved in both the US and Israeli mortgage markets and is familar with the Rehovot area. He is fluent in English and Hebrew and can assist you in making the right decisions for your individual requirements.
How to Read an Apartment Classified Ad
2 room, 3 room 4 room or 5 – Take away 1 and you will have the amount of bedrooms. So, a 4 room apartment is a 3 bedroom unit.
2.5 – the .5 means half a room. Sometimes it was a mirpeset that was enclosed or a larger room that was divided into two.
Koma Vav – 6th level. Israelis count the levels starting from the 2nd floor. So, koma bet is not the 2nd floor but rather the 2nd floor ABOVE the ground floor.
3 of 4 – 3rd level of a 4 level building.
Because there are no published listings of sold units one can only estimate the going prices. Listed prices in the classified ads can be deceiving because at times there can be a large gap between the asking price and what units actually sell for.
New apartments usually sell for more than resales and although they usually come with amenities such as parking and machsans (storage lockers) they are often smaller than the older apartments.
Many Israelis will not use agents to sell their homes. Instead they will post on web sites and take ads out in local newspapers to advertise their home for sale. Below are a list of some of the Internet sites that are used for buying and selling.