Baka Real Estate - Guide for Buying an Apartment in Baka

Copyright 2006 by Morris Rosenthal - - contact info

The Serial Tourist's Guide to Living in Jerusalem

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If Rechavia is a neighborhood of gardens, Baka is practically a forest. I've never seen more full grown trees in a Jerusalem neighborhood than in Baka, and the variety is greater than in the newer neighborhoods as well. All the trees and the privacy they bring may be a large part of what's made buying a house or an apartment in Baka so attractive to Americans. The other attraction is that Baka is right across the railroad tracks from the German Colony, and a two minute walk from Emeq Refaim, it can hardly be considered the wrong side of the tracks. Baka is primarily a mix of private homes and modest sized apartment buildings. There are some larger developments as you move towards Talpiyot, but Baka residents would probably call that area Makor Chaim. You'll hear quite a bit of English on the streets as you wonder around Baka, but the ultimate indicator of a heavy American presence is that number of real estate ads in the Jerusalem Post. I think Baka is actually the priciest neighborhood I've looked at so far in terms of available properties. There aren't a huge number on the market, and apartments that are for sale tend to be pretty expensive.
Baka also contains the only tree house I've come across in a residential Jerusalem neighborhood, and it's been there as long as I can remember. In the real estate parlance of Israel, it requires shipputzim. Many of the Baka properties I see listed are over 200 meters, and some contain that code phrase, "For Serious Buyers Only," which I translate as, "Very Expensive." I even saw a third floor apartment at 300 meters listed today. Building rights and parking are common with stand-alone Baka homes, and Arab-style is a frequent descriptor. For example, one top floor apartment in an Arab-style house listed this week for $890,000. That includes four bedrooms and a Succah porch, but it give you an idea what an entire house would cost a serious buyer:-) A four room (vs four bedroom) apartment in Baka is selling for $590,000 in the same listings, not a top floor, but includes a garden. A 185 meter penthouse is listing for $775,000, and a two story apartment (cottage) at 150 meters, including parking and a basement, lists for $498,000 with an exclamation point! In other words, anything under a half-million in this size range is being considered dirt cheap.
While the Jerusalem Post listed more million dollar plus homes for sale in Baka than sub-$500,000, Kol HaIr tells a different story to a different market. While the first listing I spotted in the Hebrew paper for Baka was a $2,100,000 architectural gem, the second listing I saw as on Derech Hebron on the edge of Baka where $300,000 buys you five rooms on the top floor, and it's just five minutes further from the German Colony. Another five room apartment with a private door to the garden was listed for $445,000, with a couple more large apartments listed in the $600,000 range. Dropping into the four bedroom range, there were a number of apartments listed in the $300,000 neighborhood, apparently in newer buildings with elevators. The listings for Makor Chaim, which didn't appear at all in English, are listed under Baka in Hebrew. The building pictured below is one of the largest apartment buildings I saw in Baka, and it's probably where some of the smaller apartments listed in Hebrew are coming from. In the three room apartment range, I saw a couple listed right at or under $300,000, and many more with no price shown.
The least expensive apartment I saw for sale in Baka during this survey was a two and a half rooms for $179,000 on Derech Bethlehem. When you're reading the real estate listings in Kol HaIr, you have to be pretty careful not to take the indexing for granted or you can really miss quite a few offerings. The real estate section starts out with uncategorized listings, which contain all price ranges from all neighborhoods. Next comes a couple pages of properties being offered by real estate agencies, and these are listed without editorial heading inserts for the neighborhood. Space ads compete with text only ads, and the space ads may contain multiple listings for multiple neighborhoods. Then come the villas and housing section, which includes random high priced properties from all over, followed by cottages, which are multi-floor houses that usually share some walls with neighbors, and are also listed by neighborhood. Finally, the main listings begin, starting with five or more rooms, then four or more rooms, then three or more, etc. In each category, there are a random sprinkling of apartments in the room range listed at the front, after which the are listed by neighborhood.
All that means is to see what's listed in Baka for a given week, assuming you aren't married to a number of rooms, you have to check a dozen different places to get all the possible listings. Despite the fact that Baka is not a large neighborhood, there are some stark contrasts, in the sense that their are some older streets almost exclusively populated with stand-alone houses, and also some newer streets or completely renovated areas with mainly three or four story apartment buildings. Through it all, they've kept the park like feeling of the area by planting trees wherever they can fit in. There are also a large number of pocket parks in Baka, none of which are large enough for sports activities and the noise they bring. There always seems to be ample street parking in the areas with the larger buildings, and many of the smaller houses have private parking. There are still some small areas of undeveloped property, may even have been farm land once upon a time, where contractors are probably building luxury housing for Americans, given the strong market.

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