Ask Shelly, the real estate expert

Vol XIX: I'm wondering if there is any way I can find out how much the seller paid for the house?

March 23, 2006 10:58
Ask Shelly, the real estate expert

shelly88. (photo credit: )


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For Housing resources click here. A native new Yorker, Shelly Levine is owner and manager of Tivuch Shelly Ltd., a leading real estate company that services all of Jerusalem and its surrounding areas and specializes in English-speaking clients. Click here to send us your questions for Shelly, please include your name, city and country. * * * Volumes I-XV * * * Vol XIX Q: Hi we are looking to make aliya in the next couple of years and want to live on a moshav within half an hour of Rehovot if possible. How do I find out what property is available, prices, etc? I have been trying to find a list of moshavs in that area but it seems to be hard to find. Thanks for any help you can give me. A: The latest craze in Israel seems to be that of moshavim building new housing neighborhoods for outsiders. The moshavim usually make deals with regular commercial builders, and the developers then in turn advertise their wares. I think your best bet might be to check out the Jewish Agency website as it pertains to moshavim ( and then pursue your interest directly with whichever ones catch your eye. If your interest falls closer to the Bet Shemesh area, I am more conversant with the moshav developments there, so let me know. Best regards, Shelly Q: Shalom, My wife and I would like to know where we can get information on buying a home in Beersheba. We are looking at this as a vacation/retirement home. I have looked on the Internet and there does not seem to be any way to know how much or more importantly how big the cottages and apts are. Since you deal in sq mtr and I know sq ft an easy way of converting would also help. Todah Rabah. A: The easy answer first. Just multiply sq. meters by approximately 10.5 and oila, you have the estimated sq. footage. I suggest you write to the office of the mayor, municipality of Beersheva (Iryat Beersheva), Bersheeva and request the up to date listing of all builders engaged in building new projects in the general area. Once your search focuses one step further, you might consider contacting the AACI office in that city. If you prefer second hand homes, turn to the local Remax or Anglo Saxon office or ask the mayor's office for their approved list of local realtors. I know there are several English-speakers in the Omer neighborhood adjacent to Beersheva, and it is known for having lovely single-home dwellings. You might include that in your search as well. Good luck. Shelly Levine Q: I'm looking to buy a house. I'm wondering if there is any way I can find out how much the seller paid for the house???? A: Thanks for writing. If the owner bought it from a building company, new, that company would know the selling value of the house. Remember, however, that when people hold houses for a significant period of time--it's hard to determine the price fluctuations since all contracts are originally in shekelim. You would need to determine the Shekel-Dollar rate of exchange at the time of the original sale to have some sense of the real dollar value of the property. Mortgages are also taken out here in shekelim; if a mortgage was taken out when the dollar was 3.8 shekelim and today the rate is 4.4, you need to do some slightly complicated calculating. Only in this way will you gain a sense of the true worth of the property over the years. Good luck, Shelly * * * Vol XVIII Q: I want property in Jerusalem, can a real estate agent handle it or do I need a lawyer? Also, I want to have paid mortgage before immigration, are c.d.s available? A: Dear Scott: A real estate agent's job is to try to bring both sides of a sale together in a fair and honest deal. It is the attorney's job to protect the buyer's interests,representing his or her interests in a partisan way. I've been in real estate in Israel for over 20 years and if I were buying something, I myself would insist on being represented by competent legal counsel. In Israel it IS common practice for both buyer and seller to often use the same lawyer. I never think this approach is prudent; saving a few pennies is not worth the potential conflict of interests. I believe that an English speaking buyer deserves to have a veteran, experienced advocate who speaks Hebrew on HIS side to get the best possible result. We have many kinds of mortgages in Israel...dollar-based deals, shekel-based, etc. Please clarify your question as I'm not sure what you're intending here? Q: Thanks for your answer to my question below. I made this purchase about 3 years ago and have never been billed. So who would I go to in order to see about payment? Or should I shut up until someone realizes the department's mistake? Thanks. Q: If a non-resident purchased a flat some years ago in Israel, I understand there might be a purchase tax to pay. I've never been billed for such. Would this have been included in the total I paid?? How do I find out if there is an amount?? Who's responsible for this, the purchaser or the authority?? A: As long as the property has been placed in your name and the title was transferred, that's the most important thing. It is typically your lawyer's job to file the purchase tax with the government. I think it would be prudent for you to double check to ensure the title is in your name and your attorney filed all relevant paperwork. I never feel comfortable when matters are not properly completed; if there is one unchecked error along the way, it could lead to problems, liability, penalty interest, etc. So it's check it all out now with the lawyer who did the deal. Best regards, Shelly Levine * * * Vol XVII Q: If a non-resident purchased a flat some years ago in Israel, I understand there might be a purchase tax to pay. I've never been billed for such… Would this have been included in the total I paid?? How do I find out if there is an amount?? Who's responsible for this, the purchaser or the authority?? A: Israel has a one-time purchase tax that is billed to you 50 days after the signing of the contract (to the buyer). The amount is determined by the purchase price. Your attorney will be better able to tell you the exact tax price due. It is staggered: the first half-million shekelim of the price is taxed at .5%, and then it rises at different levels of the overall cost, typically ending up somewhere between 3.5 to 4.5% (and sometimes as much as 5%) of the total price. Does this answer your question fully? Q: We have at our disposal approx. 75,000 US Dollars. We would like to live in Jerusalem Shaarei Chesed. Is this feasible? A: Israel's like any other place in the world. It all depends on how much mortgage you are prepared to take, and how much of your monthly income you are able to commit to paying back that mortgage. Today, Shaarei Hesed in Jerusalem has evolved into a very expensive neighborhood. You would need to take a mortgage of several hundreds of thousands of dollars (with your down payment) in order to secure a 4-bedroom home. With your level of down payment, it is often more routine for families to look at Bet Shemesh, Ramat Bet Shemesh or Modi'in, or in Jerusalem we have a totally new and wonderful development in Arnona (down Derech Hebron) that is now being developed by several builders. That might be a more suitable option for your budget if you're determined to be in Jerusalem. * * * Vol XVI Q: Two questions for Shelly: First, is there anything in Israel comparable to the no-income verification mortgage given in the US when a sizeable down payment is made (usually 50%)? Second, how do the banks in Israel handle mortgages when a husband's income derives from the US and the wife's from Israel (dollars/shekels)? A: The two most sought-after mortgages (not government subsidized) for Americans are: "Tourist" mortgages and "Shekel-based" mortgages. The first category is a regular US-style arrangement, amortized and linked to the international LIBOR rate. This kind is paid back typically each quarter, in US Dollars. Other currencies are also possible, depending on where you're from or wish to pay it back in. This style is popular for people who have income rooted in the US. The second category is paid back in Shekelim and can be linked to either the Cost-of-Living index or the Dollar or some combination thereof. If you have a steady supply of foreign currency from overseas, most people take the first. If you're more connected to income in Israel, the second category is usually preferred. I would be happy to discuss your specific details when you're ready to close on a deal. Best regards, Shelly Levine * * * Cafe Oleh experts have been chosen for their knowledge and reputation. Cafe Oleh does not take responsibility for any advice they offer. Click here to send us your questions for Shelly, please include your name, city and country.

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