Given our family’s recent local experiences with rentals and purchases, I wanted to post what we’ve learned, as I think it could be helpful to others who are currently looking around.
1. Concerning house rentals, especially in the older areas of Bet Shemesh, you should realize that there is much more to a house than is on the surface. Many corners have been cut in the building of some of these homes that are not part of development projects. Therefore, you can’t just look on the surface of a potential rental. We, for example, rented a home that – on paper – had everything we needed, but found all sorts of problems with electricity, plumbing, etc. These are things you can’t possibly know about before you move in. One idea is to try as hard as you can to find out who may have rented the home before you so you can ask questions and find out the full story.
2. Concerning the use of agents to sell or to buy, listen, we all want to make as much money (if we are the seller) or spend the least money (if we are the buyer/renter) as possible during this kind of process. To that end, people sometimes try to find the right buyer or home without the use of an agent. To me, this is a major mistake and fits quite comfortably into the category of “pennywise and pound foolish.” Agents have the connections, experience and knowledge to find the right buyer or place for us. Yes, it will cost you more, but the benefits are many. But I have one caveat to this: Find an agent who really understands who you are and what you are looking for. Make sure they take the time to learn about what your priorities are. We just had a wonderful experience and can recommend without hesitation Har HaGefen Realty (Tova and Gavriel Weinberg). They showed us about 15 houses (maybe more) in several areas over several months, and actually took the time to learn with us throughout the process what we really wanted. They never said, “Maybe you are looking for the impossible dream of a house.” They always believed we would find what we wanted. Ultimately, they found us exactly the kind of house we were looking for. We recommend them highly.
3. Concerning the use of a lawyer, Israelis love the concept of sharing the cost of a lawyer – in essence, having one lawyer represent both sides. This concept will mean, at best, that the lawyer will represent neither side, as there is no such thing as truly representing the interests of both sides. Hire a lawyer for your side only. It will cost you more, but will save you much more in the long run. There is nothing like the feeling of knowing that your lawyer is 100% in your corner, only protecting you. To this point, we recommend highly Aryeh Rachlin (based in Jerusalem), who helped us through our purchasing process. He was reasonably-priced and so amazingly responsive.
4. For those in Chu”L who are planning their Aliyah moves, realize that the change in the dollar-shekel ratio has significantly impacted the rental/purchase prices you will be seeing over the next few months. I’m not sure what exactly is the correct move here, but you need to factor in the 30% drop in the ratio over the past six months. A house that was rented out for $1000 a year ago may go for $1,300 or more now, and that’s before any discussion of the rise in property values in the BS/RBS area. This is yet another reason why you want to work with an agent and a lawyer who are on your side.
Sheinfeld Neighborhood, Beit Shemesh