We sat down with Mr. Mickey Malkin, founder of Contact Real Estate in Tel Aviv, and a South African expatriate who offers an insider perspective on buying property in Tel Aviv. Mickey has been working in real estate in Tel Aviv for over 15 years now, and being of a nonresident background has naturally led him to accumulate a large overseas clientele.
Here are 5 insights we gained in a recent conversation with Mickey:
1. Get to know the City.
"One of the most common misconceptions we come across when meeting clients who are new to Tel Aviv is their knowledge of the City, its size, and its various areas. Once you are more familiar with the city's many areas and their characteristics - both in terms of financial value and living experience - your decision is informed and necessarily more suited to your needs," commented Mickey.
As is the case with many tourism-rich and bespoke cities, much of the information shaping a prospect's decision is gleaned from either the media or from recreational experiences encountered during vacations and a partial picture has its consequences.
"Many people come to us with a fixed idea in mind of where they want to buy and it's often the area adjacent to their regular hotel or an area that is more publicly familiar for one reason or another. We recommend a tour of the city whenever possible and make sure to fully understand our client's needs before cementing the decision to buy in an area. More often than not, once we have established familiarity, the client will opt for an area of the city that is entirely different to the original plan," Malkin continued.
"Most people also don't realize that Tel Aviv, although a bustling metropolis, isn't as huge a city as they assumed. So even if you are reassessing your choice of an area due to budgetary limitations, you won't necessarily be far from the city's many culinary, cultural and green area gems."
2. Know your needs.
There is no 'one-size-fits-all' in any property arena, and Tel Aviv is no different. When asked to give us a 'profile' of the typical client seeking to buy in Tel Aviv, Miki, answered in turn: "There is no 'type' or way to categorize our overseas clientele. We offer our services to empty nester couples who are interested in owning an apartment in Tel Aviv for either permanent or intermittent occupancy, we have clients that have been with us for years accumulating a portfolio alongside their second home in Tel Aviv, we have clients that are looking to invest in commercial or residential projects and we have clients that are making Aliyah or securing residency for their children who are planning to study here," comments Malkin, "And we continue to see this diversity growing."
Although Tel Aviv properties are typically up-market in price, the city offers a diversity of solutions to suit a wide range of needs. "The city is generally divided into geographical areas like the Old North of Tel Aviv that is bordered by Arlozorov Street in the south, the Yarkon River in the north, the Mediterranean Sea in the west and Ibn Gabirol Street in the east. In a relatively small city, the North accounts for a large area that, like the other areas is composed of a number of very different neighborhoods. We strive to zero in on the right area, neighborhood, and property, and we have to get to know our clients to achieve accurate results," added Miki.
3. Work with local experts you trust.
Which brings us to the importance of the importance of working with the right realtor or broker. Having a trusted advisor or resource to help with the in-depth research of these aspects isn't always a possibility, and even then there is no substitute for the hands-on impression that is crucial when buying a home or rental property. The process itself will entail various stages and having someone you trust work with you to streamline the process can make all the difference to the experience of buying as well as the result.
"Things are always different on paper and clients that are buying from afar need help in making the right decision. Many of our clients have evolved into friends and long-term customers and the familiarity helps us serve them as precisely and as pleasantly as possible. We also strive to be able to cater to as many needs as we possibly can, by partnering with leaders in various fields. The aim is to ensure the deal is maintained and this is best achieved when our clients have peace of mind," Malkin told us.
4. Centralize your transaction.
There are seemingly endless aspects and points of contact for any property transaction, and the association doesn't always end with its signing. Nonresident buyers in Tel Aviv purchase apartments or commercial properties that will often require maintenance, renovation, rental services and more. Recognizing the need for these services to be centralized, realtors and brokerage firms are broadening the scope of their services and partnerships to meet the specialized needs of the overseas sector: "As a growing company, we witnessed our clients struggling to overcome various obstacles that come with buying in a foreign country. While both sides will require legal representation, the buyer typically retains the services of a real estate brokerage, financing services, mortgage consultation, building maintenance, renovation professionals, and more. Over the years we've built a network of partners that are experts in their respective fields and the entire process has been streamlined so that everyone goes away happy," Malkin explains.
5. When you are ready, definitely go for it.
A look at Tel Aviv's property appreciation statistics reveals a solid, upward market that is predicted to maintain its value into the future. Tel Aviv is a city that embraces diversity and enables the savvy investor to build powerful portfolios to serve their interests. Once you are aware of the possible obstacles and able to focus on the deal that will work best for you, the path to that new front door is paved.
"I would obviously recommend a purchase in Tel Aviv to anyone in the world, but when working with Jewish clients from around the world, I have seen deals reap a greater reward that surpasses its financial value by far. I have seen families invest or arrive to make Aliyah and their children flourish so quickly that it is always inspiring," concluded Malkin.
For many, the emotional driver of buying in Israel, particularly in a city like Tel Aviv, that is culturally and financially on par with the world's most acclaimed cities, will add magical value to any type of property transaction that is beyond our ability to measure or explain. That's why it's important to walk in with both your eyes and your heart open - preferably with an 'insider' at your side.