Some 130 years ago, in Rehovot's early days, most of its residents worked in agriculture and citrus orchards filled the city and its surroundings. And so, when the heads of the settlement had to choose the city’s official symbol it was only natural to honor the orange fruit. Since then, an orange has decorated the flag of Rehovot.
One hundred and thirty years later. In the second decade of the 21st century, the orchards were replaced by new residential neighborhoods, higher education institutions, modern employment centers and a gigantic science park that attracts many high tech and biotech companies. All these create a wave of development and a constantly rising demand for real estate. Due to increasing demand, there has been an increase in agencies in the city, catering to a range of different audiences.
Someone who is familiar with the stages of development of the science city is Benny Sheiba, founder and owner of Sheiba Real Estate – one of the longest-standing agencies in the city. “Today the real estate market in Rehovot is characterized by a high, stable demand that makes it one of Israel’s most sought after cities for investment and purchasing an apartment", explains Benny. "This is a center of higher education, developed culture, a high-quality population, an advanced education system, and a high percentage of academics. A large extension of the Hebrew University operates here, and also the Peres Academic Center, and they attract young people who give the city an academic atmosphere. And of course, two of the city's most outstanding symbols are the Weizmann Institute and the Faculty of Agriculture, whose impact is definitely felt".
Specializing in secondhand residential apartments
Benny founded Sheiba Real Estate in 1990. At that time, although there was no requirement to take a course or acquire a license, he registered for a real estate course at the Technion. “But naturally I received most of my knowledge without short cuts, from the bottom up, from working and learning daily in the field,” Benny says. “When I began it was important to me to build a boutique family firm, and today my wife, a senior real estate agent and an office manager work with me and we have been working together as a team for many years. We all love the city very much and know every street and alleyway at close hand.”
How do you create a reputation and maintain it over many years in such a competitive field?
"We don’t have a high turnover of employees and we don’t take on more and more agents unnecessarily. This maintains our level of service and enables the customer to benefit from experienced and professional staff. Deal by deal and with perseverance we have built ourselves a name as a strong, reliable and professional agency. Testimony to this is how customers reach us – referrals and recommendations from customers with previous experience, sometimes even ones who have been with us for decades".
The firm also emphasizes that they accompany customers for as long as necessary until the transaction is completed. "After all, a real estate transaction is an entire package that needs to be synchronized well", Benny explains. "Also, we are not dispersed, but concentrate on and specialize in secondhand residential apartments. We handle properties throughout Rehovot, with emphasis on the neighborhoods in the city’s center, north-east and north-west".
How would you characterize the real estate market in Rehovot?
"In recent years there has been a big wave of development of new residential neighborhoods in the city, with very high demand on the part of young couples and people who want to upgrade their housing and are attracted to its housing advantages. There is also a flourishing and developing science park that attracts a good population to the city and quick access to a convenient train station that connects Rehovot to the center, north and south of Israel. In 2020 Rehovot was one of the cities with the highest demand for investment and one of the cities with the greatest number of sales in Israel. It is still cheaper than Gush Dan and the surrounding localities".
What makes Rehovot an attractive destination for investors?
"This is a special city, including for students, and there is a lively demand here for small apartments that are suitable for students. Another fact that it is important to emphasize is the stable nature of the local market. Prices in Rehovot go up at a steady rate, and are maintained also in difficult periods. These figures are exactly what investors look for".
What is a main problem that you identify among customers, and what solutions do you suggest?
"Professionally, we provide professional, realistic and reliable valuations and give very precise recommendations of the target price of every transaction. Today there is great confusion among customers that stems from inaccurate information that is published in real estate price tables and on websites in the field.
"These websites are able to give broad statistics and define more or less the region of the price of the property but the problem begins when you rely on this price to sell or buy and then discover that the figures are not accurate. Unfortunately, we deal with many customers who relied on a price table and have discovered that the figures don’t match the particular property that they want to buy or sell. Apart from the fact that it complicates and delays the deal, the price differences are liable to reach a difference of tens of percentage points, and that’s a lot of money in real estate".
In this context, Benny says, his firm offers an important advantage. "We’re not satisfied with a few lines in a statistical table, but really know all the facts,” he says. “We visit the property a number of times, analyze data about the location, area, internal division, the level of renovation and the style in which it has been carried out, parking, noise and the view".
Finally, Benny says that “In the end, all these parameters and others have a cumulative effect on the price and ‘cold’ price tables that do not know the property in detail cannot know or evaluate it as we can.”