Buy Your Home in Northern Israel
If you are ready to buy property in Israel and want the spaciousness of the homes in the Center or on the Coast, but don’t have the budget, then you need to head north. Northern Israel offers home buyers the best prices, giving you much more space for your money than what you can buy in Yerushalayim, Tel Aviv, Ramat Beit Shemesh or other popular destinations in the center and coastal areas of Israel. Check out this featured property.
North of Safed (or Tzfat) is the yishuv of Bar Yochai. It is a gorgeous community, nestled in the northern mountains, within walking distance from RASHBI, the kever of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, for whom the yishuv is named. Just down the road to south is the Holy City of Safed. If you are looking to buy property in Israel, and prefer a place to spread your wings, enjoy nature and crystal clear air, then the yishuv of Bar Yochai could be just the place for you.
Bar Yochai began in 1978, but it remained a sleepy village with only around 20 families for quite some time. In 1996, once the government opened up the yishuv to new home buyers, the population began to grow. Around 140 families make their home in Bar Yochai, a community filled with synagogues, parks, hiking and biking trails, children’s playgrounds, and tons of clean open space where families can hang out together and enjoy the mountain air.
This private home is absolutely stunning. The interiors are spacious, luxurious and complete. Six rooms are spread over 200 sqm of living space, designed for comfort and beauty. Outside are luscious gardens with trees and grasses. PLUS, the property includes two separate rental units, that can be long-term rental apartments or vacation apartments, or a place to put the in-laws when they come to visit! Each apartment is 3 rooms, 60 sqm, and they have a huge mirpeset (balcony) with panoramic views of the north Israel mountains. No one will ever want to leave. You can have a good income without leaving your house. The asking price is excellent, only 2.7M shekels. Contact us at email@example.com to arrange a viewing.
Affordable Real Estate Can be Found in Northern Israel
Everyone is watching their budget these days and Israel real estate buyers are no exception. If you skim the real estate listings, it might seem that the idea of buying property in Israel is just a dream. And, in fact, if you concentrate your search to the center of Israel, it just may be that this is the sad truth.
Come north to the beautiful, wide open spaces of northern Israel. Here you can still find affordable property in Israel. The north offers city living, town living, or country living. You can buy an apartment, townhouse, or private villa, land or a farm. If you are thinking about investing in the Israel real estate market, northern Israel is the best place to plant your investment money. As little as 280,000 shekels can get your foot inside the Israel real estate investment door. The return will be much better because your purchase price will be much lower.
Prices in the north are rising, just like they are all over Israel. Yet, for affordable housing in Israel, the north is still your first choice. Prices range from 500,000 to over 1M shekels, depends upon size, location, views, and whether furnished or not. On our “Hot Properties” page you can find something to suit your budget and taste. Visit us often, sign up for email alerts, and let us help you find your affordable real estate in Israel.
Here is an interesting development in the Israel vacation apartment scene. It seems that the private vacation apartment business has become too successful. In spite of the reasons alleged in the article, it appears that the real beef is that the hotel industry is being out-done and the state is not getting its “fair share” of revenues. Opponents point to the new Berlin law that bans private vacation apartments from the market. According to the article, there were only 900 private vacation apartments in Israel in 2012. Today, there are at least 20,000 apartments doing a brisk business with tourists from around the world. The number could be higher as this represents only those listings advertising through the primary portals, including the increasingly popular Airbnb.
I don’t predict any bans on vacation apartments, known here as dirat nofesh. It would be like the government telling foreign investors what to do with their property. One thing the government does not want to do is cool down the foreign investor real estate market. How they will succeed in slowing down the growth of the private vacation apartment business remains to be seen, but in the meantime, please be sure to visit our vacation homes page and grab a spot for yourself this year.
If the Minister of Finance, MK Moshe Kahlon, gets his way, Israel will open up its residential construction industry to foreign developers. The plan is not without opposition, but the proposal brought before the Housing Cabinet is designed to speed up the construction timetable, getting that new home in your hands much sooner. Currently it takes around 15 years for developers to complete a new neighborhood, during which time construction prices rise, making that new home less and less affordable. The new effort is also intended to improve construction standards. For foreign buyers and olim from overseas, this could be very welcome news.
According to an article today in Globes, foreign developers would function as subcontractors to domestic builders, bringing in their own construction crew. The foreign developers would be allowed to operate in Israel for five years. While working in Israel, these foreign construction companies would be subject to all Israeli laws, including labor and safety.
The proposal has the backing of the Bank of Israel. Proponents highlight the proposal’s impact on improving construction standards, bringing it to a level of efficiency and perfection known throughout the western world. The government also proposes special grants to developers that adopt European construction standards and train their employees on the latest in construction technologies. Also funded will be a center for construction designed to raise the standard of professionalism and improve the overall housing construction industry.
Some Tips to Help You Find Your Perfect Home
Part One: A Brief Overview of Israeli Housing
Nothing can be more exciting than coming home to Israel. B”H, today it is easy, just contact Nefesh b’Nefesh, pack up and get on the plane. Okay, there are some small steps in between, but making Aliyah is nothing like it was in the past, when you had to travel by boat or camel, for months at a time, risking your health and life to arrive in the Holy Land. If you come on an Aliyah flight, you need only settle into your seat, go to sleep and wake up with your teudat zehut in your hand!
Before you make Aliyah you most likely will make a pilot trip to Israel to scope out communities, schools, economic opportunities and get a sense of how it is to live in the Land. The most important decision you will make is where to live. The answer depends upon a number of factors, but this article, the first in a series, iy”H, focuses on the Israeli real estate landscape. In future articles, we hope to give you a brief overview of Israeli cities and communities and important tips for making that very important real estate purchase. So, let’s begin.
Israel is small
All of Israel is only 21,946 square kilometers! This means that no place in Israel is far away. So, if you have friends or family in Yerushalayim, but you want to live in the north, no problem. Commuting is easy!
The country is divided basically into five areas: North, Center, Jerusalem, South and the Negev.
North: Northern Israel displays gorgeous, rugged terrain and diverse topography climbing up mountain peaks, swooping into valleys, and scaling the rocky coastline. Here you will find the regions of:
- Upper and Lower Galilee
- Northern coast
- Northern valleys (Jezreel, Hula, Beit She’an and Jordan)
- Zevulan Valley
- Haifa Bay
- Golan Heights
The major populations centers are in and around Haifa, Tiberias, Afula, Safed (Tzfat), Acco, Nahariya, Beit She’an, Hadera, Carmiel, Zichron Yaakov and Kiryat Shmona. The northernmost city in Israel is Metulla.
Center: Most Israeli’s live in the Center, which includes Shomron and the Coastal Plain. Here you will find the cities of: Tel Aviv/Yaffo, Petach Tikva, Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan, Netanya, Holon, Herzlia, Hod HaSharon, Ramat HaSharon, Kfar Saba, and Hadera.
The Jerusalem area includes of course our capital city of Jerusalem, plus also its surrounding cities of: Beit Shemesh, Ramat Beit Shemesh, Givat Ze’ev, Ma’aleh Adumim, Modi’in and Kyrat Arba.
South: The south region is home to the southern coastal cities of: Ashkelon, Ashdod, Rishon LeTzion, Gedera, Rohovot, Kiryat Gat, Nes Ziona, and Kiryat Malachi.
Negev: Lots of new residential, commercial and government developments are taking shape in the Negev, a stunning region of deserts, cliffs and seas. The Negev region is home to: Be’er Sheva, the largest city in the Negev, Ofakim, Arad, Yerucham, Netivot, Eilat and Mitzpe Ramon. Within this region is the Dead Sea and Red Sea.
While the majority of Israelis choose the Center or Jerusalem regions, many find the less populated, more affordable and more scenic peripheral areas to be more attractive. If you visit these regions today, you will see a tremendous amount of new growth as more and more communities begin to dot the landscape.
Within the urban centers, you can find new and resale homes to suit every need and budget. Unlike overseas, apartment-living is the norm here and the average apartment size is much smaller than what you are used to. The typical Israeli apartment is around 120 square meters. Apartments are described by the number of rooms, which includes the total number of bedrooms and the salon, or living room. The kitchen and bathrooms are not included in the total number of rooms. So, if you see an advertisement for a 4-room apartment, this means that it has three bedrooms plus the living room. Most apartments have balconies, called a mirpeset. Some are suitable for your succah. All apartments constructed after 1991 must have a safe room, called a mamad. Do not be surprised by the number of older apartment buildings that have no elevator—the famous “walk-up” is alive and well here. Israel receives a tremendous amount of sunlight and we have learned how to harness that energy to save on utility bills. Most apartment buildings have both solar (called dude shemesh) and boiler-heated water. Some older buildings offer only heating by electricity. Air conditioners are standard, called mazgan, and depending upon where you choose to live, you will find that in the summer it is pretty much impossible to live without one.
Residential buildings are governed by a va’ad ha’bayit, or residents’ management committee. There are some older buildings that do not have a va’ad, and the residents themselves accept responsibility for maintenance and cleaning. However, where there is a va’ad, usually the building is better maintained. Your va’ad fee will cover the cost of cleaning, maintenance of elevators, if they exist, and maintenance of the building and grounds. The newer the building, and the more elaborate the amenities, the higher the va’ad ha’bayit monthly fee.
Of course, a city may not be to your liking at all. No problem, Israel also offers a number of rural options: yishuv, moshav, and kibbutz. Each community offers a different kind of communal living experience, ample land, and variety of housing in peaceful and quiet settings. The communities are organized into regional councils that have oversight over education, cultural activities and healthcare. Many rural communities are located near to cities, giving you the best of both worlds.
Moshav: Moshavim began as agricultural communities, where residents earned their income through agricultural activities such as farming or ranching. All residents received land for their home and land for farming. Today the moshav has evolved into more of a bedroom community. Residents earn their livelihoods from a variety of sources, most recently, from tourism, successfully operating very popular zimmers. Very few moshavim are engaged in agricultural businesses. On the moshav, your home and the land upon which it sits belongs to you, but the land of the moshav belongs to the state. If you wish to live on a moshav, you must pass a rigorous interview process by the receiving committee, by the regional council and also pass a state-administered psychological test.
Yishuv: A yishuv is basically a bedroom community. The main focus it to maintain the country-like feel of the setting, with only single family homes, on large lots and the same educational and cultural services you would find in the city. You can purchase land and build your own home (there are community standards) or find many second hand homes of various sizes. There are no entrance requirements or interviews.
Kibbutz: Kibbutzim helped formed the foundation of our modern state of Israel. Today, though, not many kibbutzim still operate as they once did. In general, the kibbutz is a collective, meaning that all residents share in the work of the kibbutz and in the income. There is private and communal living. Kibbutz residents own the homes, public areas and the commerce of the kibbutz. Educational, healthcare and cultural services are provided by the kibbutz. Kibbutzim today primarily make their income from tourism related activities, very few are still engaged in agriculture or manufacturing. Also, due to an aging population and lessening of popularity, many kibbutzim have opened up their membership to include new residential areas that exist somewhat separate from the original kibbutz cooperative. Potential residents must pass an interview process and conform to the norms of the kibbutz, each one having their own character. Where the kibbutz has decided to sell land to developers for the purpose of new homes, these residents are not a part of the kibbutz cooperative and do not need to pass the acceptance committee.
Hopefully, this brief overview will give you some simple tools for deciding where to buy property in Israel. Future articles, iy”H, will discuss:
- purchasing land in Israel for building and the steps involved in building your own home in Israel
- types of property registration
- the process of purchasing real estate in Israel, from within the country and from abroad
- renting a home in Israel
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Please visit our “hot property” pages, like us on Facebook and look us up when you come to Israel to begin your property search.
The Israel Ministry of Finance passed a series of purchase tax modifications last year designed to slow down the purchase of real estate by investors. The Ministry’s objective was to open up more homes to young couples who cannot afford the high prices, especially in Israel’s center cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The thinking was that real estate investors, especially overseas buyers, drive up or maintain the high price structure, squeezing out young couples and others who need more affordable housing. The scheme seems to have worked everywhere but Tel Aviv. According to a recent Globes article, the proportion of real estate investors purchasing property in Tel Aviv actually increased by 17 percent in December.
The report also reveals that the number of properties sitting on the market waiting for buyers has dropped, to the lowest it has been since 2012. This means that it is a seller’s market, good news if you want to sell you home. If you are looking to buy property in Israel, it means that if you find something you like, you need to move quickly.
Be sure to contact us for all of your real estate questions and needs. Our focus is on northern Israel, but we have great referrals we can make to help you with your search in other parts of Israel.