When dealing with real estate in Israel, the metric system is the standard system of measurement:
- 1 meter = 3.28 feet (to convert to feet, multiply by 3.28)
- 1 square meter = 10.76 square feet (to convert to square feet, multiply by 10.76)
- 1 dunam = 1000 square meters = 10,760 square feet (to convert to square feet, multiply by 10,760)
Residential property in Israel is generally considered by the number of rooms in the home, where rooms include the salon (living/dining room), the bedrooms, the mamad (secured room) and any other functional room other than the kitchen and bathrooms. For example, a 5-room apartment would have 4 bedrooms and a salon. One of the bedrooms could be the mamad. A basement, or a room in the attic, are usually added separately to this description.
The size of a property in Israel can be reported as either bruto (gross area) or netto (net area). The bruto size includes common space such as elevator shaft, stairwell and area beneath walls. Netto is the actual living space of the property and does not include storage room (‘machsan‘), balcony (mirpeset), garden, parking area or garbage room.
Until 2008, there were no laws governing methods of measurement or ways in which sellers had to report the size of a property. This led to a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding on the part of the buyers, since apartment sizes were sometimes inflated by more than 20% by including the building’s service areas and other non-living spaces. Further, this made it extremely difficult to efficiently analyze trends in the property market.
In 2008, an amendment to the Law of Sale (of apartments) was introduced obligating construction companies to use the net floor space of an apartment when reporting its size. This has helped a great deal for buyers of new homes in Israel, however, there are still no uniform methods of measurement required by second-hand apartment sellers, or by local authorities for the purpose of calculating arnona payments. This has just perpetuated the problem of unreliable data, incomparable measurements and confusion in the market.
In view of the great ambiguity, it is important to check the net living space carefully and make sure that the area actually fits the data presented, or to hire a professional appraiser, engineer or architect who can determine the true size of the apartment on your behalf.