What’s the Size of the Apartment, for Crying Out Loud?

What’s the Size of the Apartment, for Crying Out Loud?

One of the first questions we ask in any real estate transaction is what’s the area of ​​the property or the apartment? We want to know its size because the area of ​​the apartment reflects the value of the deal, and whether or not we’re getting a good value in exchange of our money.

The saying “Two Jews, three opinions” turns into reality when we try to answer this supposedly simple question. So when one asks “what’s the size of the apartment?” One expects a simple answer to this seemingly simple question.

Area Calculation Methods: Not So Simple

It’s not as simple as it seems. There are a number of methods for calculating the area of an apartment. Each method uses a different calculation system based on a different reasoning.

The Israeli local authorities, for example, typically use what’s called the “net” calculation method. The “net” method measures the area of the apartment using the flat’s floor interior surface and does not take into account the area under the exterior walls. In some cases interior walls space are not included, and sometimes the area of ​​balconies are taken into account.

For the purpose of registration in the Land Registry (aka Tabu), the “net” method of calculation mentioned earlier is used, the balconies are not included while sometimes the storage (Machsan) space is included. Confused? There’s even more.

When buying an apartment from a contractor, the law states that the apartment area includes: the area under the interior walls, the area under the exterior walls and half the area of ​​the walls between the acquired property and the adjacent apartment. The difference between these two forms of calculation may result in a 12% gap in the area of the apartment.

Some real estate developers include balconies or part of the balcony in the area calculation but others don’t. Confusing? We agree. It is.

It’s not so simple to calculate the area of the apartment

Jerusalem of Gold and Stone

The law in Jerusalem requires all structures to be covered in Jerusalem stone, giving the city a unique and magnificent look and feel. The Jerusalem stone covering the exterior walls make them thicker. Real estate developers include this area as well when calculating the area of the apartment! Theoretically it is possible that you will purchase one apartment in Tel Aviv and another apartment in Jerusalem from the same developer and that on paper may both be the same size, still the apartment in Tel Aviv will be larger just because the Jerusalem apartment is coated with the Jerusalem stone.

Comparing Apples to Oranges

Moreover, when one comes to buy an apartment comparing the area of a number of apartments, he might find himself comparing apples to oranges. One apartment is being sold by a contractor, and the contractor calculates the area using a formula fixed by the contractor in relation to apartments, while the second apartment might be second-hand, and the seller cites the area according to the “Net” method based on the measurements of the municipality’s property tax.

If that wasn’t enough, things get even more complicated when in a number of cases the calculation includes additional areas beyond the apartment. Allow me to explain. Each apartment owns some percent of the common property, such as passageways, stairs, roof and even the area designated for waste. Each tenant holds a certain percentage of this common property and occasionally these areas are also calculated and added to the total area of the apartment. This can increase the area of the apartment by up to 25%! This is a very significant gap!!!

Is This a Good Deal?

In conclusion, when you ask: what’s the size of ​​the apartment? It is important to know who you’re asking and for what purpose. The answer to the same question can have at least three different possible answers. This is crucial when you’re on the market searching for an apartment which you obviously want it to be a good deal. Perhaps, you were offered 3-4 different deals and you need to make sure that the measuring method used for each deal is identical. Compare the area of the property to other assets based on an identical scale of measurement. This is the only way we can understand and compare what we’re getting for the offered price. Your lawyer is expected to know which measuring system is used and scale the different offers to a single measuring system for the purposes of comparison. He is your source of reliable info regarding the real area of the property and therefore its value. If you’re out there searching for your dream apartment in Israel, don’t forget to ask your lawyer: What’s the size of your apartment, for cryin out loud?

Yitzchak Steinberg is a respected attorney with many years of experience specializing in foreign buyers purchasing property and doing business in Israel. He is in charge of the municipal elections taking place in Jerusalem as the appointee of the Degel Hatorah political party. 

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