Real Estate in Israel – The Complete Guide

Real Estate in Israel – The Complete Guide

Chapter 1: What Is the Historical Framework of Israeli Land Law?
Chapter 2: Important Israeli Real Estate Terms to Remember.
Chapter 3: What Are the Typical Steps in Buying an Apartment in Israel?
Chapter 4: How Long Will it Take to Buy an Apartment in Israel?
Chapter 5: Choosing the Right Real Estate Agents.
Chapter 6: Using the Internet to Look for, Price, and Research apartments
Chapter 7: A Guide to Investigating an Apartment
Chapter 8: Financing Your Purchase as a Foreigner
Chapter 9: Taking a Mortgage
Chapter 10: Buying an Apartment as an Investment
Chapter 11: Choosing a Lawyer
Chapter 12: Getting the Best Tax Rate on Your Apartment
Chapter 13: Signing a Contract
Chapter 14: Registration


Chapter 1: What Is the Historical Framework of Israeli Land Law?

“How do I buy Real Estate in Israel?” We think that to answer that question we must start with providing a brief historical overview of the developments which constitute today’s legal framework of Israeli Real Estate. This will help you more quickly resolve any questions that you might have.

During the second half of the 19th century, while the Ottoman Empire still administered the land of Israel, it embarked on a land reform program requiring all landowners to register ownership of their lands at a special government office, the land registry. Towards the end of the century, Jewish settlement groups – particularly the largest one, Jewish National Fund (or JNF, which is administered by the World Zionist Organization) – began purchasing large swaths of land to be developed and settled by the planned future Jewish state. Their activity continued into the administration of the British Mandate for Palestine; whose local sovereignty replaced the Ottomans’ in 1917.

By the time the State of Israel was established in 1948, the JNF was the most significant landowner besides the British government. The JNF had up this time prohibited any resale of its lands, preferring instead to implement a policy of long-term lease to individuals and corporate bodies. This policy had allowed the JNF to tightly control and to continue developing its real estate holdings in Israel. By 1948, when Israel was established, the JNF had already been acquiring and developing land for about 50 years, and those early policies of the JNF are at the core of Israel’s lands policy even today.

When the State of Israel came into existence, the new state expropriated all lands vacated by the outgoing British Mandate administration. This means that at its establishment the State of Israel owned – both directly and via its predecessor, JNF – about three-quarters of the land of Israel. Shortly, legal complications arose from the dual-ownership listing of JNF and state-owned lands in the Ottoman land registry (which was still being utilized), and the state of Israel and the JNF entered into a covenant establishing a new state agency, to be called the Israel Lands Authority (ILA), which would administer all lands owned by both the state and JNF.

Today, the ILA is the custodian of all lands of the State of Israel – about 80% of which is directly owned by Israel, and about 13% by the JNF, with only about 7% of Israeli land being privately owned. Like the JNF before it, the ILA is prohibited by law from selling any of its substantial holdings. In 1969, it was decided to officially measure, map, and categorize the land into a tapestry of blocks, parcels, and sub parcels. The regularization process begun in 1969 continues to this day, and as of 2019, is about 95% complete. The remaining 5% of the land is slated for regularization soon.

The Takeaway:

• The ILA administers lands in Israel. 93% of the land in Israel is government-owned and leased by the ILA to private individuals for periods of 49 to 98 years. The state does not repossess the land when the lease runs out. The remaining 7% is privately owned.