Surviving Israeli mortgage hell: a checklist.

Buying your first home in Israel? Welcome to Israeli mortgage hell! (As opposed to anywhere-else-mortgage hell).

Here are some points about the process that might be helpful to you if you’re going through it now too. Note that we bought our apartment from our landlady, so there was no issue of real estate agency, moving dates, or handing over keys. I’ve heard each of those things can be their own personal hell. I guess somewhere there’s a homeowners’ angel watching over us.

So here’s what we learned from buying our property in Tzur Hadassah:

  • From the beginning of the purchase negotiation, check (and double-check) that the seller’s name is actually on the Tabu document (land registry) and not the seller before them. That could take months to change if needed (and in so many cases, it is needed).
  • While you are at it, check that the seller’s correct teudat zehut digits were put on the Tabu.
  • Pay a little more to have a really good lawyer. Who speaks your mother tongue. By really good, I mean assertive, persistent, responsible and communicative.
  • Also, make sure you get a good bank mortgage representative. Ours has been a complete doll, even when the bank itself was dicking us around. It helps that she turned out to be a neighbor of ours.
  • Keep all your papers and documents in a secure folder, and take it with you every time you go into an office to deal with something.
  • Have copies ready of everything.
  • Structure insurance: Have the policy document ready in Hebrew. The bank won’t accept it in English and it can actually hold up your process.
  • Be persistent. And annoying. In this aliyah world, you get the immigrant discount: a deduction in the form of assumption you won’t get mad, push, or fight back.
  • If you are using the זכאות עולים, and you are pregnant, you’ll need a letter from your OB-GYN stating your pregnancy status, so the bank can include it in a submission to the government.
  • Have copies of your spouse’s teudat zehut with you on every bank visit if they are not accompanying you.
  • Include the cost of a lot of petrol for all the back and forth you’ll do. Alternatively, use a bank branch within walking distance of your workplace.
  • Take into consideration you’ll be spending a few hundred shekels here and there for things the bank will have you running around to get.
  • After agreeing to your bank you find they aren’t treating you right or are screwing you around (like ours did with us) go ahead – mention it to your rep, lodge a formal complaint, and ask for something. You never know what they can give you (and they are prepared with resources to do it with customers when necessary).
  • Don’t leave loose ends: Take care to make sure your name is changed on the Tabu papers once you own. You don’t want to cause trouble and waste time for when you sell your place down the line. Seems like people get excited when the first bank payments are finished and the place is officially theirs, and forget that one detail at the end.

Other than that, pray the sellers you are dealing with are decent people. Our seller was our landlady for three years who we totally connected with, so I’d say that was a major saving grace for us. Especially since she was located in the U.S. while we negotiated and processed.

If you’ve got anything to add, feel free to leave a comment… Like I said, we got lucky and didn’t have to deal with awfulness from our seller, handing over keys or moving, so go ahead and fill that in.

What it’s like to get a mortgage in Israel.

…or anything at all from an Israeli government branch, bank, organization, supermarket, public toilet… I could go on.

Doesn’t it feel good to know that this level of bureaucracy exists all over the world, and not just here?

I do plan to post advice and checklist for navigating the home-buying and mortgage-obtaining process here in Israeli banks and government offices. Just a couple more steps for our own deal and then I’ll feel comfortable saying we actually did it… Tfu, tfu tfu.

Banking on Purim.

Here’s what it’s like for Abba and Mama to sign a whole fuck-ton of mortgage papers at the bank on Purim… through the eyes of a nearly two-year-old cookie lover:

Koala became very concerned at the whereabouts of our Minnie Mouse-attired bank rep whenever she got up to copy documents. Today has seen a lot of ‘Efo Betty?’ which, I suppose, is nice to know that he gets concerned for others.

Oh, and, Koala aside – we signed a fuck-ton of mortgage papers today. We are that much closer to the whole home-purchasing thing being done.