Sunday, September 14, 2008
A renovated classic Bauhaus building in north Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is going through an apartment boom phase. Apartments are being renovated, upgraded, divided, and heavily repriced. Rental prices have been going up 20% to 30% for the third year in a row. This means renters who had 2 year contract and need to negotiate are facing a doubling of their rent. Add to this 30% decrease in the value of the dollar to the shekel and rentals in shekels are more than doubling! Is this a crazy - scary situation? Well, not really. Basically landlords are playing "catchup" to the market. There is good news in the rental inflation of Tel Aviv apartments: it is becoming very attractive to renovate and split old apartments. If you are familiar with what happened in the US, UK, and the European Real Estate market a few years ago, than you will understand what is going on here.
I went looking for an apartment in Giv'atayim or Ramat Gan a few weeks ago. After the initial shock that one bedroom, 60 square meter, decent shape apartment is no longer 2,500 shekels a month (or $750), I started "characterizing the market". That's what I do when there is a big change AND a big shock to my sensibility system. But we all get used to changes, specially here when they come fast and strong. I quickly found out that not all landlords are asking for 4,500 shekels for a badly renovated apartment with absolutely no parking in Giv'atayim (this is where I am now). I also found out that for about 3,500 shekels I can have a nicer not newly renovated apartment in a better location. Add another 300 shekels a month and I can have one in Tel Aviv in just as nice of an area. I can finally have parking, or be next to a good shopping center 10 minute walk away... or - or - or - basically have choices and start weighing one vs. another.
If you are looking for an apartment here are a few tips:
- Take a look at a few apartments before you decide what you really need and want
- Take a look in areas where you did not think you can afford two years ago
- Don't be afraid to haggle on EVERYTHING! (I got a reduction in the "security note" (agrat chov).
- Try to be specific with your questions and descriptions specially with brokers and landlords. If you can't be specific describe yourself in their terms: 'I am a picky renter, I need the best deal you see in the neighborhood you cover')
- Keep good communication with your current landlord and keep them informed of your move and your status.
The most important part is not to get depressed or panicky. That happens to just about everyone a few days before they have to sign a new lease or actually "GET OUT". You know yourself better than anyone so just figure out what you need to do not to make a bad decision. If you like having a little fun and have a little spare time, go see really great apartments. You may not be able to afford them but you can still see how "the other half" lives. When I told a realtor that I looked at something I could never afford but it was just a check on what I can get if I had twice the budget he almost threw me out of his office. Than I said that if he didn't have time to show me a few things I would not be able to give him my time either. After all, his job is to show people ~ I need to find a place to live. Once in a while we all need a little diversion, it's a stressful and wasteful task just dealing with Realtors who don't know you and don't know what you want. Quickly he realized that this search is serious for me but I don't want to wear myself down and end up "settling" (le hitpasher) for something that I don't want. Wow did he change his tune! G O O D L U C K (oh, don't be afraid to speak in English but be treated like an Israeli. We hear all the time that English speakers feel like they paid more or didn't haggle enough, this is your opportunity to "practice" being a little more Israeli!) Read More...
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Today we begin a new series of articles on our blog. State your case is a place where you may ask us what is on your mind. We will research and write about these issues in general without offering legal advice.
People want to know what are the legal ramifications concerning the release of Gilad Shalit (kidnapped Israeli soldier being held by Hamas in Gaza). How far should the government go? From a legal and political viewpoints Israel, a sovereign country, can not make decisions which affect the entire country to satisfy the desires of the very few. As much as we all hope for the safe return of Gilad, we can not sacrifice 7 million for 1. Note also that political actions are not controlled byt the courts or the legal system. Courts do not have jurisdiction over the political world.
We got an e-Mail question from 'merav' who wants to know what she can do about a landlord who is letting her apartment fall into disrepair. She writes that the electric goes on and off and when you plug something in you get a shock. Her landlord told her to "live with it". Merav, you have a number of things you can do. First write a letter to your landlord giving him/her 48 hours to begin taking steps to solve the situation. If the landlord does not respond positively call the electric company and have them send out a technician to check and document the problem. Make sure you write the technician's name and phone number and get a written report. If this does not convince the landlord (usually this is enough to get people to solve the problem). Than call the city building inspection department and have them send an inspector to check for building code violations. If the problem you are having is a building code violation that will be reported to the landlord and should definitely fix the problem. IF YOU ARE STILL HAVING PROBLEMS! Find a good lawyer and sue your landlord. Now your landlord will have to live with code violation and a lawyer. -- Remember the law is not arbitrary and "QUICK" - take the steps and get things done on time, you will have a safe apartment and the landlord will respect you even more! Read More...
Monday, August 18, 2008
Street dancing on Dizengoff: the Israeli rap generation
It seems like Tel Aviv is having a low level cultural war. Not one that you hear about in the newspapers or TV. The bar culture is being attacked by residents through city hall. No need for alarm, Tel Aviv is not going to be a dry city any time soon*. But there are rumors and and article here and there that "the city" is out to close bars in residential areas. Essentially they enforce a few noise and public smoking laws harshly. I heard of the noise issue from bar owners and bartenders. I also heard of the no-smoking "police" lurking around bars and the staff running around putting out cigarettes (fine of 1,000 shekel for patron, 5,000 for the establishment). If you are a bar kind of person you probably think this is unfair. Why have bars, give them permission to operate, have people come and find a place to socialize and create a community just to close it down for some noise and smoke excuse? If you own or just bought an expensive apartment in a good location you take the opposite side: why doesn't the city keep the city organized? Why can't we have quiet nights and smoke free places? Why do we have to live next to a virtual sex hotel where the young of the city come to enjoy anonymous sex** and a few good drinks? Well, there you have the issue at hand. As Tel Aviv becomes more cosmopolitan it attracts the kind of people who not only want but actually demand the bar scene. The "alcohol culture" which comes with other British and American imports (business, culture, people) is steadily making it's way into the Tel Aviv night life. The "kids" which you see in the bars are not going to be satisfied by Israeli folk dancing and telling stories around the campfire on the beach. That was fine for their grandparents. But if you are going to ask them to do high-tech software, banking, and advertising on international scale, with Europeans and Americans, they want to go to pubs and bars just like in London or LA. This is what in some cultures get banned. The Muslims and Christian fundamentalists mostly in Asia (that includes the Arab countries on the middle east) live in fear of corrupting their young ones. But the cost is freedom to society. Well, let the story continue, we will keep the story going as we see what is going on here. Please post a comment or send an e-Mail if you have any news on the matter - T H A N K S !
* a dry city or county in American slang is a location free of alcohol, both sale and consumption (in public places).
** there is an image of free sex in bar bathrooms has taken hold in Tel Aviv. Apparently this was a popular form of entertainment for the 20 something. From what you see today it's only in very few bars and very few people. Read More...
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Tel Aviv is starting to show spring colors. In other cities that would be flowers and green leaves. Or street performance of magic and music in the town squares. Here it's romance and food. What are the colors of romance and food? Well, it's smiling faces, colorful plates, shiny windows, and more cloths in pastels than black. The weather is starting to allow comfortable outside sitting, and there are still a the enclosed glass shelters from the winter. Like urbanites in Europe and N. America, Tel Avivians feel the awakening of spring weather and light. If you come from a cold weather country you may think about how exaggerated spring for Israelites is, but never the less, spring brings "street colors". For me this is people in cafes, parks, and boulevards. With small apartments and getting smaller (this phenomena of making a small apartment into two smaller ones will be dealt with in another article), good selection of cafes, bars, and restaurants. So for Tel Avivians social living outside is the way of life, no matter what Venicians or Parisians say, Tel Aviv thinks they are the best at this. On any day you can find people in cafes working (laptop services like WiFi and power is available in many places), couples romancing, and students studying. If you come from a US college town this would seem natural, and if you lived or visited Paris, Venice, or Barcelona the crowds would make you feel that deja-vue again.
Arlozorov & Iben Gvirol: Cars, Horses, and Cafes - Eat, Drink, and Romance
The business world has not missed this phenomena and preference of street living. On any day you will find architects presenting plans to clients, insurance and investment proposals discussed, and interviews for high-tech and retail sales jobs in many cafes and one or two bars. With the attitude of 'mind your own business ~ please', most people are not afraid to discuss their most intimate personal issues like salaries, finances, and even sexual habits. For the most part, the people in the next table are anonymous and do not seem to care even if they overhear something juicy. During the day cafes seem to have more business and school activity than the rest of the day. During the evening hours romancing and 'starting' ~ a term for hitting on the 'girl next table' is much more common. The main Tel Aviv boulevard have been lined with tables from restaurants for many years. The amount and agressiveness of the table placement seem to follow both the weather and the general economic mood of the city. Now the weather is warming up and the economy seem to be taking a short rest. So let the tables get moving begin.
Spruced up flower bed in a walking path, outdoor living is not limited to cafes
If your style is more sporty or does not fall into sitting around, there are plenty of walking paths, beaches, and parks to run around. Biking and jogging is slowly coming back with the warm weather too. So is simple walking and bench warming. Tel Aviv seem to be taking this pass time also well with spruced up flower beds, repaired paths, and freshly painted park benches. Again, these are not limited to the older set kibitzing. On any evening you will find plenty of teen agers and 20-somethings hugging and kissing in a hidden spot. Also, the ever present teen age groups are going to find a bench or a street corner to congregate and enjoy a warm evening outdoors. So get out... and come enjoy the city... Read More...
Monday, September 17, 2007
As Real-Estate in the US 'corrects' itself from inflated prices, possibly a correction that will take years, the Real-Estate in Tel Aviv is recovering from years of inactivity and depression. I compare the US Real Estate market to the one in Tel Aviv not to anger or annoy. The comparison is to highlight the opportunity in a market that is on the rising side of the cycle, essentially on the other side of the cycle from the US market. But this opportunity is something that will not last forever, it is also not for everyone. Small investors who are not comfortable investing in a distant location will not be interested. But for these who want to take the opportunity to make money, specially if they are familiar with Tel Aviv and Israel, this is the time to take action.
Renovated Bauhaus on Ben Yehuda
Before you jump into this market there are a few things to learn and become familiarize with. Start out by hiring a good Real Estate lawyer and work with a few good experienced brokers. The legal system in Israel is very sophisticated and sometimes complicated issues are part of a deal. The Real Estate law has developed over many years and two empires, the Ottoman (Turkish) and British laws ruled this land for a long time. Then came the Israeli law to complicate things even more. This is not a problem that professionals in the field are unfamiliar with. Experienced professionals know the laws and practices and therefore can guide you to a safe and profitable investment.
A good local lawyer can help you find an accountant and a Real Estate agent. An accountant will be useful if you are buying a multi-unit residential or commercial building. Once you are set on the type of property you would like to buy, accountants and lawyers can advise on the type of Realtor. Fees for legal and accounting should be negotiated at the beginning of the process. These fees run between 1% and 2% of the total investment. Realtor fees are usually lower than in the US and run the the 2% to 3% range, these can be negotiated at the beginning also.
Real Estate in Israel is recorded in the "Tabo" (recorder's office). Tel Aviv's Tabo office is located at city hall in kikar Rabin. Real Estate lawyers are familiar with the listing process and should be experienced in transferring deeds.
Once you decide to invest in Tel Aviv property, my advice is not to cut costs. Hire the right people with the experience, take their advice and make sure you understand all the steps and the issues. As Tel Aviv is going through a renovation wave, as the economy in Israel is recovering from both the technology and the security slumps, there are many great opportunities to invest in prime location and good buildings.
Enjoy your property in the city, come invest in Tel Aviv.... //sam-d-man Read More...
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Funky exterior off Jabotinsky near Ha'yarkon
Tel Aviv is a fairly "young" city. It celebrated 100 years in 2006 (see Tell Aviv history in English). If you come from Europe or even America, when we talk about "old" think 50 years not 250. The "old north" is part of Tel Aviv from about Arlozorov street to the Ha'yarkon river (where the park runs from the coast to the north east of the city). It is also roughly from the coast or Ha'yarkon street to Namir Boulevard (the central train station). This area of Tel Aviv was built starting the 30's and was fairly built by the 60's. There are a few new buildings, specially the big hotels along the coast, but the residential buildings are mostly up to 70's in vintage. Like many places, as Tel Aviv grew, newer areas became more popular and the "old north" was a little neglected.
The state of the "old north" is changing on a regular basis. The last 10 years there have been interest and value in refurbishing and even totally rebuilding old buildings. The city also see value in keeping some classic old building looking their original self, so they assign historical importance to Bauhaus and Arab / Turkish style buildings. The old north has a few very good examples of Bauhaus buildings, some recently refurbished.
With the residential revitalization the commercial sector is picking up quickly. The north part of Dizengoff street, once neglected is now a hub of wedding dress, jewelry (wedding bands) and fashion. Other small commercial areas are also seeing new life. The area is attracting people from all over the city. The intesection of Dizengoff and Nordau, once a sleepy location is now a busy shopping area during the day and a bar-cafe center at night. Property values have been going up 25% to 30% per year for a few years. This is true for rentals and purchasing. The good news is, LOCATION. There is no more space to build here and the area is well maintained by the city and the residents. Some would say its even "pampered" by the city. Streets are immaculate, parks are cared for and most of the buildings are in great shape.
Newly renovated bauhaus building
Many foreigners, diplomats and retirees like this part of town. It is relatively small with all amenities in walking distance. Transportation is easy with public and taxi service available any time. The area is fairly liberal and secular, even on Saturdays (the Jewish Sabbath) cafes and convenience stores are open. And from most of the area it's a hop to the beach, the biggest park in Tel Aviv and other entertainment centers (movies, theater, music and alike).
If you are coming for a short stay, keep this area in mind. If you are here for a few weeks or months, plan ahead and rent in the "old north", you will not be disappointed, but you may be spoiled (a little ;8~) Read More...