Insider Tips From a Jerusalem Real Estate Agent
Updated: May 2
We want to introduce you to...
"I put my heart and energy in the right place, try to understand people - and that brings me to the right thing."
If you’re an immigrant, you already know how challenging it is to move to a new country. You’re suddenly thrust into a new world with new laws and systems that you need to learn - and don’t always even know what to ask.
If you’re trying to buy a house, it’s even more complicated - as Deborah Michael discovered nine years ago when she and her family made aliyah from Chicago. Excited to buy a home in Israel, Deborah jumped right in, found an agent, and bought a house. This was a dream come true, but when she later sold the same house, she realized that she could have both bought and sold the house more in her favor. She saw how much information she was missing about the buyer and seller relationship, and the Israeli market, that would have made a huge difference in her experiences.
This paved the way for Deborah to shift from her 20-year career as a pediatric occupational therapist. When she made aliyah she wanted to try a new professional path. Three years ago, after many frustrating real estate experiences, Deborah decided to develop her negotiation skills and become a real estate agent for buyers.
As a buyer’s agent, her sole priority is the buyer so she can advocate on their behalf and ensure their home needs are met, “My dream is to help other people find their dream home - with ease!” It is now her mission to learn the ins and outs of the real estate system in Israel and help others so they can find a home and save time, money, and heartache.
Already, in the beginning, years of her business, Deborah has found incredible homes for people with very specific criteria, including a client who needed a four-bedroom apartment in Arnona across the street from his mother’s nursing home. Within one hour Deborah found a place that fit his needs and the next day he signed.
Navigating your own real estate journey? Deborah shared some invaluable insights that will make you a smarter (and more successful) home buyer.
1: Get your own agent that has only your best interest in mind and who looks for possibility. You need to decide who is your trusted partner.
2: Do not go directly to the seller. It's important to keep in mind that if you call a seller directly, and their realtor answers the phone, you will need to pay that realtor. Due to the conflict of interest, it may be more difficult to get your needs met. It's better for you proactively find an agent that can advocate for you!
3: Many people search for “By owner“ because it sounds like it will save money, but most people aren’t real estate professionals and it typically ends up costing more than having an agent because of negotiations and understanding the costs involved.
4: If you’re buying into a housing project, it’s crucial to ask if it’s neto (total usable space) or bruto (total space) and if the price is with or without the walls up. Companies often quote the apartment size without the walls and once they put up the wall it reduces the size by about 10%!
5: In particular now, because the shekel is so strong and the dollar is so weak, ask your agent to negotiate the price to reflect the shift in the exchange rate (ie 10% off, etc…).
6: When buying a house or apartment, always bring in an architect designer to make sure everything is okay and that the apartment will be able to accommodate your needs.
6: Since every small element adds to the price it’s crucial to know what you want and what your priorities are for your new home. Things to consider even include, are you afraid of heights? How old is the building? Are hills okay? Can you walk far? It’s important to take everything into account.
Deborah has a questionnaire on her website designed to help you hone in on your personal needs. You can take the test here.
7: In Israel, if you’re 70 or above, you can’t take out a mortgage. Many people don’t know this, so if you’re above 70 years old and can’t pay full, this is essential information.
In addition to wise advice and stellar results for her clients, Deborah often brings water and snacks when she meets with clients and even tries to make shidduchim (matches) between people.
She really wants to take care of people, “I understand that everyone wants to be talked to, communicated with, and listened to differently - and I do my best to honor that.” It’s clearly working because every client she’s had until now came through a referral.
Like Deborah says, “It works because we have the same goals. We partner in long-term success, for your forever Jerusalem home.”