The spouses that found out that they purchased an apartment from an imposter, the guy who received the key and discovered during the transportation that he had no electrical outlets in the apartment and the pensioners who discovered in retrospect that the apartment they purchased didn’t have a building permit at all.
The nightmare of every person buying an apartment is to be in a bad contract that causes him to lose a huge amount of money and even worse, have various constraints that require him to turn to the courts and a variety of bureaucratic procedures even when everything seems to be over. Many such scenarios and many others come to court every year, and most of them are caused by not involving the professional factor in the process, which turns out to be the most important.
Why is a lawyer needed?
An apartment purchase lawyer is an expert real estate lawyer who works in the field and represents the buyers’ side facing the sellers’ side – the apartment owners or the contractor himself. This is a person who has accumulated great experience in the field of real estate in Israel and accompanies all the aspects of the transaction and the purchase process, from the negotiation stage with the sellers to the signing of the sale contract and receiving the key.
Purchasing an apartment is considered to be the most significant and probably the most expensive part in life, and therefore many people who prefer to create shortcuts for themselves and save on a lawyer on their behalf, may sabotage their transaction and even worse, find out that they were led astray in retrospect by a very bad transaction and by trickery of the seller. As part of his job, the lawyer is required to perform very important actions that will emphasize the relevance of the transaction and its profitability and will constantly work to improve it out of thought and dedication solely to the interests and personal considerations of his clients.
About the important roles of the lawyer in the purchase process
As a first step for guaranteeing a successful purchase, your lawyer will identify the seller and all of his rights in the property. This is a very important check that will reveal essential details such as the registration of the apartment in the land registry and the Israel Land Administration, in a mortgage company, if present, he will check whether the tenancy fees have been paid (payment for land usage), whether there is any other person that has rights in the property (warning note), whether there are any liens for the property or debts to the municipality or the local council.
An apartment purchase lawyer will also inform you of all the expenses associated with the purchase process, including payment of purchase tax or connection to a water and electricity meter (if it’s a new apartment from a contractor) and will, in most cases, be able to plan and recommend ways to reduce taxes and other payments according to law. For example, a person buying a second apartment is required to pay a high purchase tax for it. But if he sells his first apartment within a year and informs the tax authority through his lawyer, he will be entitled to a full exemption. Therefore, the lawyer is also able to be the advising and accompanying factor, but also the more economical factor in the process.
Legally, if one or more of the checks mentioned here is not done very carefully, the buyers may well fall into a trap. So happened to Yossi and Libby, who entered their new home, and a month later it turned out that it had been deceitfully sold to them by an impostor, and the apartment was not his: that crook knew ahead of time about the upcoming travels of the real owner of the apartment, broke into his apartment and impersonated him in order to sell his apartment and disappear with the great sum of money given to him for it.
Had the couple hired an apartment purchase lawyer to check and verify the identity of the seller, they would not have had to deal legally with the real owner of the apartment upon his return to Israel, suffer heavy additional expenses, terrible aggravation and bureaucratic complications including evacuation of the apartment, dragging the mortgage and searching for another home.
Sale contract – The critical stage in the purchase process
Would you be ready to move into an apartment with no electrical outlets? Oren had to live for an entire week in an apartment like this, after the person who sold him the apartment, dismantled all the electrical outlets that were there before he left. The reason for it is unclear, but also irrelevant: as long as the sale contract did not include the enforcing of such an important detail as receiving the apartment with all of its contents, including the electrical outlets – the owner of the previous apartment could do as he pleases.
The sale contract is in fact the final and absolute agreement that enforces the delivery of the apartment and it has to include, in full detail, everything related to this action: the full identity of both sides, the full address of the apartment, what’s left in it (including electrical outlets, cupboards and a bathtub, for example), full detail about the delivery of each payment and tax payments, the date of delivery of the apartment, various agreements that the sides have held regarding repair of defects, and more. At the moment of truth, it is necessary to have the professional eye of a lawyer who is very knowledgeable in drawing up sales contracts, who can even point out existing reservations and correct the document until its final and agreed version is made.
In the first stage, a draft contract is prepared between the sides, in which all the relevant corrections will be done, and before the final contract is made, which from the moment it is signed, there is no way to cancel it or change your mind about it. Very often, the person selling the apartment, gives the buyers a draft of a sale contract drawn up by his lawyer (it should be noted that the buyer’s real estate lawyer is committed solely to his interests, even if you have met him and been told otherwise) and they present the document to a close relative that they trust but he is not a professional. If the buyers approve the draft, the sale contract will be drawn up and both sides will sign it, the buyer will not be able to sue the seller or cancel the contract and he is obligated to act by it.
What else should the lawyer check?
The Amikams purchased a three-room apartment in a moshav in the center of the Israel and gave it to their newly married son. As a result of expanding the family and towards the expected birth of their eldest daughter, the young couple decided to sell the apartment and buy a larger apartment instead.
The couple published an ad, and soon a couple came to take a look at the property, which had been built in advance as an extension to an existing residence building and has been used for rental until the owners decided to sell it. However, the lawyer of the prospective buyers performed a check and found out that this apartment doesn’t have and never had a building permit. As a result, the purchase process stopped and the couple found themselves in a difficult bureaucratic process because the apartment was bought for them without knowing they had to check this detail at all.
The apartment purchase lawyer is responsible for checking all the necessary permits for your home, including checking the building permit and a comprehensive engineering check, in which, flaws or defects will be found and will have to be negotiated in order to be fixed, as well as checking the various fees to be paid, checking the geographical location and its surroundings (a good deal may rise and fall on an unsuitable neighborhood) and the estimated value of the apartment, which will be compared with that provided by the sellers.
Our law firm offers legal services regarding the purchase of an apartment and will be able to handle the preliminary checks, the various issues with the authorities, the sale contract and the negotiations with the sellers’ side. The firm has leading professional lawyers who can direct, advise and guide you financially and in tax terms, so that you can purchase an apartment with full confidence and without unnecessary concerns.
*The above article is by no means a legal advice; any use of this information is solely under the reader’s responsibility.