Real estate experts: Mortgage benefits at 70?

Vol XXXII: I still have rights as an Olah Hdashah that I have never used. Is it feasable at a retired age to get a mortgage and how much of a down payment is required for someone 70 yrs. old?

apt building (photo credit: )
apt building
(photo credit: )
For Housing resources click here. Our Experts For Jerusalem and the surrounding areas including Modi'in, Bet Shemesh and Ma'aleh Adumim: 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. For Ra'anana and the surrounding areas, including Kfar Saba and Hod Hasharon: Re/max Ra'anana - with over 15 years experience in the greater Ra'anana region and extensive knowledge of the surrounding areas - provides top real estate advice and services, and specializes in clients from English and French speaking countries. * * * Click here to send us your questions, please include your name, city and country. * * * Volumes I-XV Volumes XVI-XIX Volumes XX-XXIV Volumes XXV-XXVII Volumes XXVII-XXX * * * Vol XXXII Q: My husband and I live in Rehovot and our children live in Modiin. We want to look for an apt in the Emek Hachula area. 3-4 bedrooms, ground floor or elevator, budget $200-250. A: Please note that this column is dedicated to objective, general advice on real estate matters in Israel. please direct any specific questions of this commercial nature to my private email address, [email protected] Best regards and thanks for writing! Q: I am an olah hadacha ("ezrachit olah" to be more precise, had an Israeli passport but never lived here) since september 2007 and was wondering if I can get tax advantages on the purchase of commercial property? Are there only advantages for residential real estate or also office space? Thanks! A: It all depends on your status. Have you ever owned a home (or office) in Israel? You fall into one category if you have, into another if you have not. If your status is 'new immigrant', then you have a very big discount on 'mas rechisha,' the one-time purchase tax due 50 days following purchase of an apartment. You also get a first time discounted mortgage from the government if qualified. these points relate generally to residential, not commercial properties. Q: I am a young 63 year old American citizen, one son and family live in Sde Boker, other son in USA but will eventually return to Israel. I own a small condo worth about $250,000, receive some Social Security and have some savings . I would like to trade my condo for a small home/apt./condo (ground floor or elevator) accessible to the Ben Gurion campus where my son lives. I live very simply. Would I be able to afford to do this? A: There are affordable options in beersheva, clearly much less expensive than Jerusalem. you should have no problem living there on social security benefits. City taxes are relatively low, etc. If you would like, I can refer you to one of my builders who has properties all over that city. Good luck and we look forward to welcoming you to israel. Q: My husband and I are retired and own an apt in Emanuel, free and clear. We want to sell it and buy something small in the Modi'in area. I still have rights as an Olah Hdashah that I have never used. Is it feasable at a retired age to get a mortgage and how much of a down payment is required for someone 70 yrs. old or is renting a better way to go at this age? What is your advice? The payments are not the problem the amount of down payment is. A: I hate to break it to you, but if you have ever owned an apartment in your name in Israel, you have forfeited your (small) mortgage discount and mas rechisha tax breaks. Of course you still have your other rights as a newcomer, i.e., customs benefits, etc, but not for the purchase of a house. You can get a mortgage at 70 as long as you meet the bank's collateral criteria. Q: What do you think about investing in AKKO (saint jean d'acre) mainly in the old arab city (under the Unesco antic preserve program) A: Funny you should mention that area. I just learned more about this when I had a meeting with the tourism ministry last week. They are considering putting out a tender to develop the area you mention as a large tourism area. other than that, I am not familiar with the Akko scene. Sorry. Q: My husband and I made Aliya about 10 months ago. We purchased an apartment. It needs a total makeover. The building is from 1935. Our Kablan (contractors) has added 16% for taxes. His work is demolition, breaking down some walls removal, new wiring, insulation, heating, air conditioning, plumbing, heat saving double glass windows, putting up walls, doors, floors (wood). We are on Social Security and I am on Disability Soc Sec. Is there any benefit for seniors?. Will we also pay 16% for all the sinks, faucets, tiles flooring, toilet fixtures, kitchen cabinets and other carpentry (beds and closets)? If I bought separate air conditioners wouldn't there be a break on the taxes? Should I bring these items in my lift? A: It might be possible that the items that you must purchase, you might be entitled to a tax break. You must call the aaci aliyah counselor to clarify this point. According to law, the builder must give you a receipt, including the value added tax at a rate of 15.5%. It sounds like he's serious about his bookkeeping and hopefully will also be about your renovations. Make sure you get the receipts! Good luck. Q: Could you direct me, in English, if possible, or in Hebrew, to a website that would explain the process of obtaining a sales person's real estate license in Israel ? Thank you. PS: I am a broker with 23 years of experience, newly married to an Israeli. A: Call my office at +972-2-5662499 and ask Aliza to furnish details about this question. She will provide the phone number or the web address. There is a booklet in Hebrew only. One must study the laws in it, and the test is given twice each year in Hebrew. * * * Vol XXXI Q: I am a returning citizen and I would like to live in the Negev. What's the situation vis-a-vis availability and price? Thanks A: There are many good options in this region. Of course Beersheva and the suburb Omer are at the higher level and towns like Mitzpe Ramon, Arad and Dimona are a lot less expensive. Some of the moshavim and kibbutzim in the Negev also exist. You need to narrow in on the type of environment you want and characteristics of the community. The prices depend on the kind of place you prefer.. Q: I would like to sell my four week timeshare apartment at Lev Yerushalayim Apartment Hotel in Yerushalyim. How would I go about doing this? Can you recommend any realtors who would handle the sale? A: Since the secondary market for time-share properties in Jerusalem is primarily located outside Israel, I suggest you try a classified ad in the appropriate section of The International Jerusalem Post and perhaps The Jewish Press in NY. See what happens and let me know. Q: Since real estate agents in Israel are not required to undertake any licensing requirements, business is conducted on the fly, and lawyers take an objective position, how can a buyer or seller obtain safe and legal representation when non exists. Isn't it time for Israel to regulate the licensing of real estate agents? A: I am sorry to disappoint you, but real estate licensing began in Israel close to ten years ago! In fact, realtors can receive fines if they even have non-licensed subagents working for them. I myself hired someone who had received notification of passing the (comprehensive) tests for licensing but had not yet physically received the certificate and I got a ticket. Not to worry, I fought it and won. Q: How does the situation of the Greek Orthodox Church owning much of Yerushalayim land and it being leased for 99 years play into buying property? A: This is one of the fascinating peculiarities of the Jerusalem market. The Orthodox churches (Greek, Syrian, Russian) own large tracts of Talbieh and central city near the Russian Compound. Some of the leases are down to 25 years with the clock ticking. The government is working on a solution but no one knows yet what shape it will take. Undoubtedly most people prefer to buy non-Church lands, i.e., those controlled by the Israel Lands Authority. Ask your realtor or attorney about this issue before making any decisions to buy. Q: I recently came across a mortgage broker here in Israel who claimed he could get a home loan for a much better rate than is otherwise offered, and he also claimed he could cut through a good deal of the paper chase. What is your experience with this type of service? A: Virtually everyone walks into 2 or 3 of the reputable mortgage banks (i.e., Tefahot, Bank Jerusalem, Hapoalim, Adanim) and gets competitive quotes from each. The government-regulated mortgages such as for newcomers are also managed by these same banks. Your attorney can be helpful in overseeing this process. I've sold thousands of apartments and not one of my clients has had problems understanding the standard mortgage options or resorted to a mortgage broker. I sincerely doubt such persons can do significantly better for you on terms than the recognized banks. Q: Do you think the crisis in USA could have an impact on the real estates in Israel? I was going to buy an apartment in Jerusalem but because of the problems I hesitate now. Thanks for your opinion. A: This is an excellent question. Undoubtedly major developments in places like the US and Europe have an impact on what's happening in our Israeli market. For example, the strong Pound Sterling and other circumstances in England make that a very favorable place for people to buy real estate in Israel. The dramatic drop of the dollar, in light of the Shekel prices of our homes over here, is indeed a factor to be reckoned with. And yet, Jews always want to own their home in Israel, and this will never change. The key is to make your decision based on expert counseling from your Israeli real estate expert. Q: Hi I am making aliyah very soon and getting married 6 months later. As such looking to buy or rent an apartment in the bet shemesh area though after looking through rent prices I can see that rent is quite pricey and may be better served to pay money to buy a house. Is this so? Secondly, I have found a property in the migdal hamaim district with 5 rooms 2 terraces a kitchen and living room for $165,000. Is this good? It is a fixer upper of sorts. How can i tell how much repair must be done? Finally what is the minimum down payment I can give on a mortgage on this prorperty? I do not have expansive funds availabe at the moment , thanks. A: Most English-speakers have moved AWAY from the Migdal Mayim area in Bet Shemesh, although other neighborhoods there remain exceptionally dynamic for this market. I suggest that you rent in the vicinity for 6-12 months, get a real feel for the area, and then decide if and in what part of Bet Shemesh you may wish to buy. Q: I was in Israel and gave a down payment for an apartment. This apartment is part of a building that most apartments belong to a  Hotel. I have found out that the Company that owns the Hotel is undergoing bankruptcy procedures. What could be the implications, consequences and will you do in a case like this? We love the location and the building. Can we go ahead or request monies to be returned ? A: Very clear: Each contract and situation is different. I can't give you a detailed answer, but I urge you to immediately consult with a competent lawyer in Israel. Have him check the contract and advise you on the legal implications for such a situation. A good lawyer is the way to go from the situation as you've described it. * * * 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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