If you are in the market to purchase property in Israel, you may have already discovered that the process is a bit different than in the US, it may feel  overwhelming, even daunting!  The following are some tips on choosing your personal agent to assist you in navigating the road to property ownership; remember getting advice and guidance from qualified professionals is an important part of the process.

“Why do I need an agent at all?”

Many people feel they can handle the purchase of property on their own and view paying real estate brokerage fees as an added “expense” when purchasing property, yet studies have proven that to be far from the truth.

A qualified agent is your best resource throughout the process and can in fact save you money in the long run. A good agent will have his/her “finger on the pulse” of the market. They will be able to tell you how long a home has been on the market, whether or not it has been listed multiple times, when it was last sold and for how much. They will help to clarify the status of the property such as the legal description and size of the property. If there have been improvements made to the property they will research to make sure that those improvements have been done legally and the changes to the property have been properly registered. A qualified agent will be able to provide a “CMA”; comparable market analysis, which is information on other homes sold most recently in the area and how this property would compare to those. In general a good agent will have all the information that will help you to asses the true market value of a property.

You may ask; “doesn’t an attorney help with many of these tasks?” The answer is “yes” and “no”. Your attorney can do some of these tasks but will do them only once you have decided on the property to be purchased and have agreed upon a price with the seller. He may also rely on you or the seller to research and gather the necessary documents, or charge an extra fee to handle that part of the process. A real estate agent will provide this information as a service to their potential buyers. They do not charge a “per hour” rate, nor are you obligated to purchase the property unless it meets your personal requirements. An agent does not get paid unless you choose to move ahead with the purchase of the home.

“How do I choose the right agent?”

Making sure the agent you choose is the right “fit” for you is an integral part of the process. Look for an agent who will strive to fully understand your needs as a buyer, someone who is  knowledgeable about the area in which you are looking to purchase. Feel free to ask for recommendations from some of their past clients. Make sure that the agent you choose works for a reputable “broker” or agency. Be sure they speak English fluently especially if your Hebrew is poor. Often someone with similar cultural background such as a fellow “oleh” will better understand where you are coming from and the transitional concerns you may have as you relocate.

A good agent will have an extensive list of professionals that he can refer you to should the need arise; mortgage brokers, contractors, appraisers, architects and attorneys that are qualified and experienced. These individuals may play important roles in your final decision to go ahead with your purchase and the price you will pay.  

If you are buying for investment purposes, your agent should be able to help you figure out the ROI, (return on investment) and they should have recommendations regarding handling your property post purchase, for example available renters or reputable management companies that can help manage your investment if you plan to be abroad.

A qualified real estate professional will have firsthand knowledge and experience that will help guide you smoothly through the process, saving you time and money and making sure that your interests are being protected. Remember this is their full time job. A skilled agent who takes pride in their career will have spent substantial time learning their vocation, participated in high level courses and be involved in continuing education and of course they must be legally licensed to work as a professional in Real Estate.

Good luck!

Susie Benzaquen “grew up” in the real estate industry and has spent years working in the field. She has held licensing in both Florida and in New Jersey. She currently serves on the support staff of Re/Max Momentum in Givat Shaul, Jerusalem.