I am looking to purchase an apartment in Israel. I contacted a few brokers and told them what I wanted. One broker I contacted was from a random Google search, that directed me to a certain brokerage, and when I sent an email to them, an Israeli broker emailed back and we started discussing many things. We spent many days going back and forth about a certain new building, but in the end, I decided not to purchase there because the sukkah porch is not big enough.

When he first emailed me information about the new construction building, he also included a standard broker/purchaser contract for me to sign. I did not sign anything with him. I forwarded the contract to my lawyer in Israel, and he negotiated with him down from 2% plus VAT to 2% including VAT.

After I eliminated the new building as an option, we were discussing second hand apartments and neighborhoods. I gave him my preference of neighborhoods. He then found an apartment for sale in the neighborhood of my choice, and emailed me a sketch of the apartment, and told me the price. On the sketch, it had the name of the owner, but not the address. It is very difficult for me to communicate with him, because he speaks a fast Hebrew, and I understand a slow Hebrew.

The next day after he emailed me the sketch of the apartment available in my neighborhood of choice, a different broker (English speaking) called me back to tell me he found an apartment for sale in my neighborhood of choice. When he proceeded to describe the apartment (he also gave me the address which I did not have before), I asked him if it was the apartment of so-and-so which I knew from the email of the Israeli Broker. The answer was that it was the same apartment, although the asking price was slightly different. I told him that I already knew about it from a different broker.

My lawyer in Israel tells me that I have no obligation whatsoever to the Israeli Broker, since I did not sign any agreement, and since he did not take me to see the apartment. I am not in Israel, and I don’t have plans to go there until January, at which time I plan to look at many apartments and hopefully purchase one. Perhaps this apartment won’t be available anymore and even if it is, perhaps I won’t want to buy it. However, I would much prefer to deal with an English speaking broker.

Do I have any Halachic obligation to the Israeli Hebrew Speaking Broker who first told me about the apartment?

Answer:

You do not have an obligation vis-a-vis the Hebrew speaking broker, and you can work exclusively with the English speaking broker, or with anybody of your choice.

Sources: See Choshen Mishpat 185. If you end up buying the apartment, it won’t be because of the Israeli broker, but rather because of whichever broker you will be working with when you actually come to Israel. If it is more convenient for you to work with an English-speaking broker, you are permitted to do so, and if he arranges for you to buy the apartment, he would receive the brokerage fees.

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