10 tips on renting through a realtor in Israel

Renting in IsraelIt’s time to lay down the “law”.

I have seen too many missed opportunities. People want to rent something but don’t seem to know how to go about things. They look at a place or two, hope to find something “better”, and then end-up regretting having foregone the first place. In the meantime, people don’t realize that they’re driving the realtors a bit crazy (admittedly – not always a long trip). The problem is not only for the family or individual looking to rent, nor for the realtor, but for other individuals and families that intend to rent/buy in the future.

I’ve developed a healthy relationship with the realtors in Ariel, as well as with quite a number of landlords. It’s very important that I maintain those healthy relationships, so that we can assure all of our future olim the opportunity to rent (and ultimately buy) the sort of homes that they’re looking for here. Unfortunately, up to this point there have been”issues” that have arisen with most of the local realtors over the course of their dealings with families that I’ve sent their way.

There may be a number of factors involved, but it seems clear that the primary factor is a lack of familiarity with the unwritten rules of how to deal with realtors in Israel. So – in order to ensure that everyone lands a solid deal, as well as to ensure the continued success of the Ariel Aliyah program, I’ve drafted a list of 10 tips (5 do’s, 5 don’ts) on how to deal with realtors in Israel:

1. BE CLEAR. Know what you’re looking for. That will help the realtor know that you’re serious. If he has something to offer you then you guys will get along great. If not – switch realtors.

2. If the market is competitive where you’re looking (like in 95% of Israel) be ready to sign a contract on the spot.

3. Use the fact that you’re an oleh to your advantage – dedicated to life in israel, you’ll take good care of the place, if you’re not working yet you’ll still be able to pay the bills from your personal savings.

4. PRIORITIZE!!!! We all want a beautiful place, in a particular location, a particular size, a certain floor (not too high, not too low) , some extras (maybe a garden, a balcony), a certain amount of furniture (either none, lots or some), a place that’s well kept, a great landlord, wonderful neighbors, some (to alot) of storage space, a particular date of availability, enough time to decide if we really want the place or if perhaps we can get  a better deal elsewhere, oh- and of course a great price. WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD! Decide on 1 to 2 (maybe 3) guiding factors on the basis of which you are ready to sign a contract.

5. Make it clear to the realtor that he/she is a tremendous help in making your aliyah a (continued) reality and that you GENUINELY appreciate their assistance and all of the work they’ve put in – especially when they do things for you after office hours.

6. Never negotiate before making your thanks and appreciation of the realtor’s efforts abundantly clear.

7. Don’t try to negotiate everything – if there are 3 issues that you want to address (problems with the place, concerns of the wording in the contract, the price)  then mention each of the issues independantly.

8. Do not negotiate with the owner – only with the agent.

9. Do not show-up late.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask. If the place you see looks like it’s falling apart ask: “did you notice that the walls are full of mold?” or “how long will it take the landlord to fix up this place before he allows someone to move in?” Even if the answer to your question is in the form of stuttering or a blank look – you didn’t want to move there anyway. Now the realtor will take you somewhere that you want to see.

These tips are not an exhaustive list, but they should help you along their way. Remember – each of these guidelines was written in the wake of often repeated mistakes. I hope they help people keep on track.   


2 Responses to “10 tips on renting through a realtor in Israel”

  1. 1 joshinariel July 2, 2008 at 1:36 am

    Nice work Avi. Please let me comment on #10 and then something else. We ‘Americans’ are inherently apprehensive about bargaining and especially in foreign language, but we all have to get over that as soon as possible.

    Yes, it’s a sellers marlet, but it does not mean that each home has to be taken at face value. Though the vast majority of landlords do not want to spending anything more than necessary on improvements, many do in fact understand when there are issues that need to be adressed and dealt with before a rental contract is signed. It’s almost a given that a fresh coat of paint (whitewash usually) is expected, that some electrical work might be needed, that blinds or windows or other things might need replacing, etc… and this can be added to the contract as a precondition of signing.

    There’s is no denial that there is a lot of junk out there, but with some vision and perceverence, (did I spell that right?) a dump can be turned into a nice place.

    Now, with regard to driving the agents crazy, well, except for the valid ‘common sense’ advice you gave, the agents should know that they’ll have to be patient with us and that if they have a bit of vision, we’ll be making them a nice buck in the next few years. Sure, they don’t need us, but word of mouth spreads and we can easily ignore those who don’t have patience with us.


  2. 2 arielaliyah July 2, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    It’s true about the agents going crazy. Some go crazier than others.

    Indeed, I try to avoid the word of mouth thing myself. However, there is a particular agent that I have chosen to avoid, and will therefore not be benefitting from the business that’s being generated. It’s not that I have a personal issue with the agent – I’ve had the phone hung up on me before. It’s just that I genuinely do not trust the agent nor their business ethics. I want our olim to work with straight businesspeople.

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