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Older Immigrants Face Home-Buying Obstacles, Discrimination in Israel

elalIsrael encourages Jews to move to the Jewish State and to buy homes there. One group is often frozen out of the dream: newcomers over the age of 55. A new analysis, written by business journalist Sharon Udasin and commissioned by public affairs advisers Lone Star Communications, demonstrates just how challenging the situation can be.

Israeli real estate is priced per square meter among the highest in the world without a foreseeable downward shift in sight. Compounding this reality for new arrivals and foreign-based homebuyers aged 55 and older is an entrenched system offering too-short mortgage terms which are further conditioned upon expensive life insurance requirements.

A just-released white paper study exploring this phenomenon of widespread, seemingly discriminatory offerings of undesirable terms to wholly qualified candidates based purely on their age has found that the mortgage system can and does respond to counter-action from experts who understand the problem and the pressure points. The relatively new advocacy position in Israel of mortgage counselor, backed by legal and insurance experts, can frequently secure for seniors what the system often initially denies them.

In the analysis Older Home-Buyers Face Hurdles, Discrimination in Israel, Managing Director Chaim Friedman and General Manager Tzvi Shapiro of First Israel Mortgage Ltd. characterize that in Israel, “age discrimination is the norm – not the exception,” with lending banks apprehensive of authorizing mortgages that range beyond 75 years of age out of concern that borrowers will not be able to afford to pay back the loan – despite the fact that an applicant may be fully qualified due to their assets, including cash in hand, and overall solid financial situation.

Norman Zysblat, a veteran insurance agent in Israel, points out that Israeli banks will often require foreigners to invest in expensive Israeli life insurance policies to ensure that the mortgage is fully paid off in the event that the borrower dies. This stipulation is cost-prohibitive – and often a duplication of existing coverage – and serves as another sticking point that ignores the qualifications of the homebuyer.

“Despite this apparent bias, we have been successful in overcoming the hurdle through knowing which banks are more flexible on this issue, developing good relationships with these and presenting the files to bank decision-makers in a way that makes the borrowers appear as the reliable, solid low-risk individuals they actually are,” Friedman observed.

Older Home-Buyers Face Hurdles, Discrimination in Israel notes that Israeli conservative crediting and lending policies are one key reason that Israeli banks “are in fairly good shape,” according to Barry Ernstoff, a partner at the Wine, Misheiker & Ernstoff law office in Jerusalem.

As detailed in Older Home-Buyers Face Hurdles, Discrimination in Israel, “The process of purchasing a home in Israel in the over 55+ age bracket can be a daunting task,” Friedman notes. “The discrimination factor keeps confronting Israelis and foreign residents alike. It’s just a matter of age.”

The key to successfully navigating the murky mortgage waters for an older homebuyer in Israel is not only understanding the banks’ usual attitude, but utilizing an experienced mortgage advocate to fight for the buyer’s best interests – knowing that the law ultimately is on the side of the consumers.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

One Response

  1. sadly when it comes to MANY THINGS TO DO WITH israel you need a Cuntz and although only a small percentage could do this

    they should get a Mortgage in America

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