When we first recorded the vlog on the 7 Steps Israel was just getting out of the “first wave” of Covid-19, and much has changed in the world since then, but the principles presented there remain the same. Part of the “new normal” has been a change in the way we think about and approach face-to-face interactions. With many people still very vulnerable, and many restrictions still in place, the way we search for houses and apartments is changing as well.
So let’s speak practically for anyone who is looking for a place to rent or buy, or is debating whether its possible or worthwhile to move homes during the pandemic. Spoiler alert - it is! The key is changing our perspective and realigning our expectations.
At Trusted House we always talk about the “housing journey”. We believe very strongly that in order to have the most efficient and successful housing experience, you should follow a set of steps which will lead you finding the perfect home, at the right price, and a smooth move-in.
We have what we call the 7 Steps in finding a home. I’ll present a brief overview of these steps and how those are changing in today’s climate. In the coming videos and blogs we will go into some of these in more detail.
1) Identifying your needs and preferences.
Now is the perfect time to be doing this since you’ve been spending a lot of time at home these last few months and can recognize what things are essential to you in your home and what things you wish you had in your home and your environment. You should find some time to sit down with your spouse or partner and come up with a list of things that are critical to you, that are important to you, and what you specifically want to avoid.
A helpful way of doing this is thinking about it categorically: what are your social needs, religious needs, health, accessibility, education, work, recreation and culture, lifestyle, family, special things about the environment, public transportation etc.
2) Planning financially.
Rather than approximating a budget and then trying to work backward, it's really important to do some organized financial planning. This can be done by yourselves with an Excel sheet or with a professional. For those who are buying, the mortgage approval is a major part of the financial analysis, and we’re going to have a whole episode dedicated to this in a couple of weeks. If you’re looking to rent, it's a little bit more straightforward - the general rule is not to spend more than a third of your net income on rent. But even for rentals there will be differences between age groups and family statuses, so it's helpful to speak with a professional, even just a short consultation, to budget yourself responsibly. If you’re not sure if you should buy or rent, I hope to have an episode about that coming up in a couple of weeks as well.
3) Community matching.
Deciding where you’re going to live and who your children will grow up with is one of the most significant decisions you need to make in your life. A lot of you may already know exactly where you want to live. For those who don’t, we also have a video coming out soon dedicated to helping you choose a community.
4) Home search
This is the part that’s changed the most with the pandemic. There are many ways to find apartments and houses in Israel - there are about a dozen Hebrew websites with listings for rent and sale, the major ones being Yad2, Komo, Madlan, Homeless, and WinWin. Many listings can be found in local Facebook groups, some public and some private, as well as local Whatsapp groups. Other places are still listed the old-fashioned way in the newspaper and through realtors, or even with signs on the balcony.
It may sound overwhelming because there are so many different sources to find, groups to get accepted into, and only then can you begin filtering through all the options, ignore duplicates, expired listings etc. Most people don’t have the time to explore all of these avenues on their own and will choose one or two. For those who want a more comprehensive search, covering all your bases, including a lot of the localized listings which you may not have access to if you’re moving to a new community, this is a service that we provide at Trusted House. Our team will filter through dozens of listings on various sites, making phone calls, messages and emails to sort through all the noise and come up with a short-list of places that are actually relevant based on steps 1 & 2. But if you have the time and energy, and are comfortable enough in Hebrew, then by all means take a crack at it yourself.
A sub-step within step 4 is seeing the options that interest you. Seeing apartments these days is firstly through pictures and videos. Unfortunately, most landlords and realtors aren't professional photographers or videographers, but as I said at the beginning, sometimes you have to just realign your expectations. You have to use your imagination a bit to picture the potential of each place based on the data and images available. Once you’ve done that first level of filtering, deciding what might be worth your while to see, there are a couple of options for how to move forward.
Option A: If you’re living abroad or live far away, you’ll want someone you trust, such as a friend or family member, or Trusted House, of course, to go there in a way that follows all of the relevant health guidelines and do a live video tour with you, so that you can have them focus in on areas that the landlord or real estate agent might not show you in a marketing video.
Option B: If you are in Israel and no one is living in the apartment, you, or whoever is helping you, can arrange to have the key left in a secure location so that you can see the place without any direct contact with others. If you’re part of a vulnerable population then the first option may still be a better idea.
Option C: If people are living in the apartment, you can arrange a time for them to step outside for a few minutes so that you can and give yourself a social distance approved tour.
This is where you’ll negotiate the price and terms of the rental or purchase. We’ll be speaking next episode with Jane Olman about the legal and contractual aspects of that. For those buying with a mortgage, this is where the bank closing happens as well.
Now it's time to take your new apartment or house and turn it into your home. If you’re buying, you’ll likely want to do some renovations, or at least some basic fixes and painting. Even if you’re renting you’ll likely want to get some new furniture and appliances, and have those set up before you move in. In a couple of weeks we’ll be speaking with an interior designer to go more in-depth into those processes.
You’ll also want to have the place cleaned and treated by an exterminator before moving in. A common mistake is doing those last two in reverse order. The chemicals that they spray need to sit for a while for them to be effective, so you shouldn’t wash them away too soon afterward.
Once you make it to this point you should give yourself a round of applause and drink a l’chaim for all your hard work! If you’re making Aliyah and bringing a lift there are added logistics involved in the move, and that too we’ll be having a separate video on. At this stage you’ll also want to switch all of the utilities and bills over to your name and make sure you get internet and cable set up so that you can get back to your Zoom calls and Netflix in your new home.
I know this may sound like a lot of different pieces and people to manage. As you may have noticed from all of my plugs for future videos, we at Trusted House have an incredible team of professionals and a very strong network of specialists who we work with throughout the Housing Journey, because we believe that key to our success, which is ultimately your success, is the integration between all these different pieces to make your life easier. One voice to guide you smoothly from step to step, and always have you prepared for what's coming next. But as I said before, if you have the time, energy, and high enough level of Hebrew to tackle this on your own, you're more than invited to use these videos and blogs to help self-guide through the housing journey.