Foreigner's guide to property market: Building a dream home

While building a new home can be an involved process, in Israel the term “involved” can take on a whole new meaning.

Roof top party 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Roof top party 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In many countries around the world, it is still entirely possible to buy a vacant building site and build your own single-family home and in some locales, you can even act as your own “General Contractor”. While building a new home can be an involved process, in Israel the term “involved” can take on a whole new meaning. 
Building your dream home in Israel
Often, idealistic people from the states dream of building a second home in Israel or in some cases those making aliya consider that possibility.  For those who are serious, some experts say that you should plan on a two and a half year process.  If that time line doesn’t frighten you, then your first step might be to search for an architect in Israel, who can more thoroughly inform you about the entire building process from start to finish.
Buying a building plot in a big city   
One of the most daunting challenges to deal with in a big city in Israel, like Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, is just the basic lack of available land that does not already have a structure on it. If you have to factor in the cost of demolishing an existing structure, that brings the feasibility into even greater question. Most of the new building that is taking place in Israel’s large cities is being done by contractors and real estate developers and the bulk of what they are building are cottages or apartments as opposed to single family dwellings. The exception to this rule would be the wealthier locals or occasional foreign buyer, who has several million dollars or more to invest.
Buying a building plot in a smaller city
The further away you go from the larger cities in Israel, the greater chance you will have of finding a piece of land that is vacant and zoned for residential construction. In communities such as Herzliya Pituach, Caesarea, Binyamina and Zichron Yaakov, the typical residential plot is 500 sq meters, which is of course small in comparison with single family lots in many places in the US. You will also see some 1000 sq meter plots in these same communities. In Israel, a 1000 sq meter plot would be considered “a dunam” of land.  The price range for a 500 sq meter plot in communities such as the ones just mentioned, can range anywhere from $250,000 to a few million dollars.
Buying in outlying areas
For a person of modest means, the most likely scenario for building your own home in Israel would probably be in the very small or remote communities of Israel. Prices in these areas will be the most reasonable and would afford the buyer a greater sense of open space. In some cases, the zoning of the land may even allow for the building of more than one structure in which case you could build a Bed & Breakfast type of operation or a family compound. 
For those who don’t have any immediate plans to build, there is always the possibility of buying land that is zoned for agricultural use and holding it long term until the land is re-zoned. Agricultural land in Israel is very affordable, but there is always the risk that the land will not be re-zoned by the time you are ready to build.   
Lyle Plocher is the Director of Buy Property In Israel and can be reached by email at

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