Foreigner's guide to property market: Understanding Israel

The real estate terminology used in Israel is often the same as in the West, but in some cases it may have a different meaning.

American Colony home 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
American Colony home 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Some confusing terms
While checking out real estate ads for property in Israel, there are a few terms that may confuse you or give you the wrong visual image of the space being described.  Some of the confusing terms include:
Rooms – In Israel, you will see many advertisements where the agent or owner state how many rooms the home has.  This is not the actual count of every room in the home or apartment; it is the number of bedrooms in the home plus the living room.  So for example, a four-room apartment would in fact be a three-bedroom home plus the living room.  The bathrooms are sometimes stated separately, but they are not included in the room count for descriptive purposes.
Basement – In the US a basement is usually a below ground-level floor of the housing unit.  In Israel, a basement is actually a ground-floor living level. 
Ground floor – In Israel, when the “ground floor” is referred to, it is actually the ground floor, however, the First floor in Israel is what people from the US would consider the Second Floor. 
Of course all room and home sizes are quoted in square meters instead of square feet.  One square meter equals 10.76 square feet.
Types of Housing Units in Israel
Flat – A single story apartment with neighbors above or below or on either side.
Duplex – Refers to a two story apartment.
Triplex – Refers to a three story apartment.
Penthouse – Apartment on the top floor of an apartment building, which could be single level or a duplex.
Cottage – An attached dwelling unit with its own private entrance that usually includes a bit of outdoor space such as a garden.    Villa – Usually a freestanding detached house that sits on its own plot of land.
A few terms you may see expressed in Hebrew    Dunam - Measurement for land/plot sizes in Israel.  One dunam = 1,000 square meters or 10,760 square feet, nearly one-quarter of an acre.
Mirpeset - Balcony
Arnona - Municipal tax usually paid monthly by the person occupying the apartment.
Tabu - This is the government lands registry office. Information at this office is open and accessible to the public.  Anyone can check the ownership of property.  The Tabu record offers vital information regarding each and every plot or subplot in Israel. A quick query will reveal all information registered in the registry, including the owner of the land, its registered size, rights relating to the land, and all pledges, mortgages and encumbrances relating to the land registered in this office.  Any property purchase made in Israel should be registered in Tabu to protect the buyer/owner.
Lyle Plocher is the Director of Buy Property In Israel and can be reached by email at [email protected]