Importance of Jerusalem Real Estate Property Inspection
Before buying real estate in Jerusalem, it is imperative that a buyer hires a qualified engineer to carry out an inspection. Completing on a property is likely to be momentous, not to mention an expensive outlay, for the buyer. He/she should know of any defects in the property to determine if he/she wants to go through with the transaction.
Anyone can walk through a Jerusalem property and see a glaring defect, such as a crack in the wall or a damp stain. However, only a competent, professional engineer can see less obvious problems and report them back to the buyer. A written report (if necessary) gives the buyer an objective evaluation of the condition of the property, as well as what repairs are needed to make it habitable.
Such a report can save the buyer tens of thousands of NIS (if not more) for three reasons:
- The report can be used as leverage against the seller to negotiate a lower price.
- The report can be used against the seller in court to potentially gain a more favorable ruling. Judges consider an engineer’s report to be unbiased and a sign that the buyer did everything that was reasonably possible to make an informed decision before buying the property.
- The report can be used to show if the seller violated any building codes, which could entail the buyer being subjected to municipal lawsuits and/or demolition orders. Either could cost the buyer money, negatively affect the value of the property down the line, and/or potentially prevent the buyer from making upgrades and renovations.
The cost of hiring an engineer to inspect a piece of Jerusalem real estate usually ranges between 2,000 – 4,000 NIS. The price is negotiated between the buyer and the engineer, and depends upon the size of the property and if the buyer requires a written report.
Hiring an engineer may seem like added (unnecessary) expense at first. But it could save the buyer money, time and stress in the long run.
What is in the Engineer’s Report?
During an inspection, the engineer ascertains all elements of the apartment/house to find out if they are fit for purpose. In general, an engineer will assess the following during an inspection:
- The structure of the apartment and the building;
- The materials that the property is made from;
- The windows and doors;
- The walls, floors and ceilings;
- The electrical installations;
- The motor and boiler;
- The plumbing and susceptibility to dampness;
- The layout, particularly if the buyer wishes to make upgrades and renovations;
- The roof, if the property is a house or if the apartment is on the top floor.
If the engineer finds problems during the inspection, he/she must use his knowledge and experience to advise the buyer on how to fix them. This can range, in the words of Chaim Milun, a respected Israeli building engineer, from using “something as simple as a tape-measure to specialized electronic tools, such as a damp-meter.”
Nevertheless, an engineer will put emphasis on differing elements of a piece of real estate, depending upon whether it is an Old and/or a Second-Hand Property, or a New-Build. This is because the consequences for the buyer vary in terms of costs for improvements and in terms of remedies.
What to Look for in Jerusalem Real Estate Property Inspections
In An Old Property
An Old Property in Jerusalem is one that was built before 1980 (when the Israeli building codes were introduced). The engineer will inspect the property for all of the above-mentioned points. However, he/she will specifically assess the following:
• How well fortified the building is in case of earthquakes and/or subsidence;
• That the materials used are in adequate condition and are safe for living in;
• What the chances of cracks appearing in the walls are;
• What the chances of leakage from the pipes and/or through the ceiling are.
For the purpose of remedies, an Old Property is always considered Second-Hand, since it has been occupied before. Legally, the seller is obligated to disclose any defects to the buyer, prior to the sale. If the seller fails to record a defect and the defect is subsequently found during the inspection, the seller must rectify the disclosure. If the seller does not do this, the buyer can either ask for money directly from the seller or sue him/her after completion to be recompensed.
It must be noted that the buyer will be able to take the seller to court if he/she has an engineer’s written report. Without one, the buyer will find it difficult to prove that the defect existed before he/she completed.
Post-1980 Built Property
The engineer will evaluate the same elements for a post-1980 build as per an Old Property. However, the chances are that the building is better fortified and that the materials are of better quality.
For the purpose of remedies, post-1980 real estate in Jerusalem can either be Second-Hand or a New-Build. If the property is Second-Hand, the remedy for a defect is the same as above. This is not the case for a New-Build.
A Newly-Built Property (i.e. one that is either under construction or has never been occupied) can still come with defects. An engineer will specifically inspect the property for:
- Piping, motor, boiler and rain leakage defects;
- Sinking of the floors;
- Cracks in the walls;
- Peeling of inside and outside wall-coverings.
If an engineer finds any of these problems before the buyer moves into the property, the onus and the cost to remedy them lies with the builder. In this scenario, the builder is legally obligated to repair:
- Plumbing defects within 2 years of the buyer’s occupancy;
- Rain leakage damage, motor and boiler defects, peeling of the inside wall-coverings in the stairway, and/or the sinking of flooring, within 3 years of his/her occupancy;
- Cracks in the walls and/or ceilings within 5 years of his/her occupancy;
Peeling of the outside wall-coverings within 7 years of his/her occupancy.
Special thanks to Chaim Milun for his help with this article.