Choosing a Lawyer When Purchasing an Apartment in Israel
How many of you drive a car without insurance? There probably aren’t many people reading this article who did not purchase insurance as soon as they bought a new car. Hiring a lawyer for an apartment purchase is the same as an insurance policy for real-estate transactions, which are usually considered the most expensive and important transaction in an average person’s life. The risk is clear: counterfeit, swindling, fraud, and a myriad of other risks that may deprive you of all of your money.
Our law firm specializes in land and real-estate law in Israel. This article will provide you with the tools to choose the right lawyer when entering a land transaction and will list the important characteristics to look for in a lawyer so that the transaction is carried out efficiently and you can completely trust your lawyer.
WHAT IS A REAL ESTATE LAWYER’S JOB?
Israelis are used to being self-sufficient and hesitate to hire a professional for a job that they need done. “Maybe I can do it on my own, so why should I waste my money on a professional?” The answer to this is a definite “no.” You can’t really do it alone, and the risk in the transaction of your life is too great to forego the insurance.
A lawyer is needed in a land transaction right after locating the property that you wish to buy. The transaction includes various legal and bureaucratic requirements with which lawyers are familiar from their experience in the field. Your lawyer will assist you from the moment that you choose the property and until you pay the full amount to the apartment owner and transfer the ownership to your name. Some clients choose to hire a lawyer even at the stage of choosing which property to buy.
The first thing that the lawyer must do after locating the right property is to conduct initial checks to verify the identity of the property and the owner, as well as find out what planning approval certificates are required. These checks are intended to exclude construction anomalies that can only be discovered by a professional and that may lower the value of the land.
After a thorough examination of the property, the parties negotiate with each other. The aid of a lawyer can help you achieve the best possible conditions regarding the price of the flat, the payment intervals, and various issues pertaining to the property. The lawyer also formulates the contract for the transaction, including many details that give the buyer piece of mind when signing the transaction of their life.
After signing the contract, the lawyer’s sole job is to register the rights in the relevant registry through a separate process that includes issuing certificates at the local authority offices and at the Tax Authority and submitting various documents in coordination with the lawyer of the other party.
It is also the lawyer’s job to take care of the transaction taxation, which includes payment of capital gains taxes, purchase taxes, and sometimes also betterment taxes. To do so, the lawyer must be experienced in the field of taxation, since any mistake in this area may cause the client to lose tens of thousands of shekels.
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR IN A Real Estate LAWYER?
Experience. Experience, experience, experience. Think as if we filled the whole line with the word “experience.” This is the most important quality that you should look for in a lawyer, in general, and in real-estate transactions, in particular. And we will explain.
The field of law is deep and wide, and a lawyer gains their knowledge mainly during their academic studies. The rest of their knowledge is gained during their training period at a large or small firm after receiving their lawyer certificate.
In many cases, issues arise during the process of the transaction, and, if the lawyer’s only knowledge is based on the land law course that they studied at the university, they will not know how to tackle these matters. In contrast, a lawyer who has seen a thing or two during their career knows what to do in such cases. Therefore, when seeking a lawyer for the transaction of your life, pay attention to the number of years of their experience in the field.
Our firm has worked in the real-estate field for over a decade, with lawyers who specialize in land law and taxation law and who have dealt with a variety of complex transactions that have given them tools to succeed in all types of land transactions.
A LARGE OR SMALL FIRM?
This is probably the most common question among those who seek a lawyer for an apartment purchase. So yes, there are advantages and disadvantages for each option, but the most important goal is, of course, to complete the transaction as successfully as possible. Therefore, it is better to choose a large and experienced firm.
In a small firm, only one person takes on your case. Although this means personalized treatment, the person treating your case will not always have answers to your questions due to their limited experience. In contrast, in a large firm there are a number of real-estate lawyers and, therefore, you will be benefited by the experience of them all. In numbers, this means ten years of experience in a small firm vs. at least fifty years of experience in a large firm.
In the end, in spite of all the talk about the complex procedures, we’re dealing with human beings; and, to succeed with human beings, a personal connection is needed between you and the person who will provide you with insurance for the most important transaction in your life.
So, after finding the right lawyer and hearing recommendations about them—come to the meeting and tell them about the type of property that you have located, ask them to tell you about the legal procedure, and try to feel whether you connect.
Recommending a lawyer for an apartment purchase:
It probably goes without saying that you will speak with your close friends and ask them for recommendations of a professional lawyer with whom they have worked.
If you’re not satisfied with the recommendations, try to find out about the lawyer through the Internet. Yes, sometimes just searching for the lawyer’s name will tell you whether the lawyer of your choice is the ideal person to assist you in this important procedure.
And, by the way, every respectable lawyer has their own website in which they explain about various legal procedures. If their website helps you better understand the procedure and be clear about what to expect, this is an important sign of the lawyer’s professionalism.
As you can understand, our firm specializes in all types of real-estate transactions, and you are welcome to roam our website and increase your knowledge in land issues; and, of course, contact us if you have any questions or are interested in legal assistance in a land transaction.