When purchasing an apartment in the U.S. the title is checked out by an insurance company which then provides Title Insurance. This does not exist in Israel. When real estate is purchased in Israel, the burden of the title search falls on the lawyer representing the purchaser.
Most properties are registered in the Israel Land Registry. There are land registry offices located in all the major cities and most of the smaller ones as well. The Land Registry office is well organized and computerized. When enacting a change in title, all documents must be perfect as any mistake found in them will hold up the transfer of title.
The Land Registry registrations show who is the owner and whether there are any mortgages or other encumbrances on the property. It will show whether or not the apartment was recently sold. It will show if there are any rights of passage in the property. It will show the plan of the apartment and anything attached to it such as a parking space, storage unit, garden or roof. It will not show the price of the property in the transaction.
Some properties, such as new properties, might not yet be registered in the Land Registry. In this case the title search is done with the company that built the project or the Israel Land Authority, as the case may be.
Additional searches are done with the Registrar of Pledges which registers pledges and mortgages and the Registrar of Companies in the case of sale by a company.
In addition to this, a search should be initiated with the local municipality to see if there is any illegal building on the property. In order to fully discover this, an appraiser or engineer should view the apartment and then visit the local municipality to examine the building permit in order to compare it with the actual property that physically exists today.
Fully checking the property, whether it be residential, commercial or otherwise can prevent many legal problems in the future.