Ask the Expert: First time buyer

Buying a new home can be a complicated process; in this new column, real estate experts answer all your questions.

beersheba real estate 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
beersheba real estate 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Question: I am looking to buy my first home. What are some of the considerations I should take into account when starting the search?
As "tent cities" are starting to spread and multiply throughout the country, a growing number of media pundits and politicians are calling for greater taxation and regulation of the "investment property market." Still, despite the current controversy, many foreign citizens continue to buy investment properties in Israel, some for economical and others for sentimental reasons.
At such times, it is especially important to familiarize oneself with the local market before beginning to look for a new property. How to tell a good neighborhood from a not so good one? What precautions need to be taken in dealings with the local contractor? And what taxes would one be expected to pay?
In general, when purchasing a new property, it is important to check the following information:
The neighborhood – Ask a relative or friend, consult with a real estate agent or a real estate attorney. If you have children, you may want to check nearby parks and other activities. It could also be useful to check transportation to and from the area.
Municipal services –Are there schools or universities in the area? What other services are nearby, including health services, culture centers, and malls.
City plans – City plans are accessible to the general public in the Engineering Department of each municipality. If there are open grounds in the area, it may be useful to check if there is an existing plan to build on it in the future and what are the zoning definitions for that land. Some contractors may provide you with this information as well.   
Additional rights - The rights in the apartment include certain additional areas. These include a relative portion of the common property, as well as areas such as balconies, parking, roof, garden and storeroom. Clarify these issues with the seller in the negotiation stage, and have your attorney check the registration documents properly to ensure you actually own all of the claimed “attachments.”
Some sellers are positive that the roof, for instance, is part of their apartment, because they used it exclusively for many years. However, when you check the registration documents, you may soon realize that this roof is not registered as part of the property and, as a matter of fact, it is part of the “common property” – to be shared by all the residents of the building. Make sure your attorney checks these issues thoroughly.
Municipal costs – It is important to check what the monthly payment is for city taxes (known as "Arnona"). In Israel, the yearly taxes are not calculated as a yearly percentage rate of your apartment value (as customary in few countries); rather it is a monthly payment determined by the municipality according to the apartment’s square meter measurements, the attractiveness of the apartment’s location, the municipal services in the area, etc. This is an additional charge to be calculated into your overall budget. 
The contractor company – If this is a new apartment, it is important to ask the contractor to provide you with their license and details about past experience and reputation, such as pictures of other projects that they were involved with.
Construction permit – Get information from the contractor about the construction permit from the city council or other municipality.
The lawyer's tips were provided by Dganit Toren, Adv., Esq.

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