PAGE 12 A JEWISH PRESS of PINELLAS COUNTY MARCH 11 - 24, 2011
Is bubble about to burst for Jewish groups,
Israel’s booming housing market? Israel mobilizing
By DINA KRAFT housing in major urban centers. Although to aid Japan
JTA news service there are great income disparities, the aver- Staff and wires
TEL AVIV — Soon after Leora’s second age Israeli family earns about $2,000 per The Jewish Federations of North
child was born and she and her husband began month. America has set up an emergency relief
looking for a larger home, Israel’s new real “The affordability on the demand side is fund to help those affected by the massive
estate reality smacked them in the face. almost unbearable, and this has been consis- earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.
Though the couple had bought a two-bed- tent for almost two years now,” said Danny “We are determined to provide emer-
room apartment in Tel Aviv six years earlier Ben-Shahar, a real estate expert in the depart- gency relief as quickly as possible and to
that had appreciated to $650,000, more than ment of architecture and urban planning at the work with our partners to provide support
triple what they paid, they still found them- Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. “We over the longer term as well,” said Fred
selves priced out of the local market. One cannot maintain prices as high as they are now Zimmerman, chairman of the Jewish Fed-
apartment in a basement underneath a park- because of the affordability effects.” erations’ Emergency Committee.
ing lot was listed at $468,000. The soaring housing prices also have A luxury skyscaper near completion in central Tel Donations can be made to the fund
They are now planning to move to the sparked fears that Israel is in the midst of a Aviv, where prices are skyrocketing. online, by texting RELIEF to 51818, or
coastal town of Pardes Hanna, about an hour’s housing bubble. through JFNA’s national mailbox at The
drive north of Tel Aviv, where prices also have In the interests of stabilizing the housing investment. And with the world economic Jewish Federations of North America,
climbed significantly but where they can still market, the government has begun taking downturn wreaking havoc with stock mar- Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New
find a house with a garden for the same price steps to cool it. The Bank of Israel is raising kets, local investors have poured even more York, NY 10268.
as the apartments they saw in Tel Aviv. interest rates and minimum mortgage down money into real estate. JFNA said it is also working with its
“Ordinary, hard-working people cannot payments to 30 percent. The government has “People here hate renting, even though partner the American Jewish Joint Dis-
live in the city, and when they do they sacri- pledged to build additional housing to in- rent in Israel is quite cheap while buying tribution Committee, which also started
fice a lot to be here,” said Leora, who asked crease supply. And the Knesset has approved homes is very expensive,” said Zvi Wiener, an a Japan/Pacific disaster relief fund, to
that her real name not be used. “It also feels several changes in real estate tax laws aimed economics professor at Jerusalem’s Hebrew support relief efforts. (www.jdc.org/do-
so out of touch with political realities here: at curbing investor demand. University. “There is no culture of investing nation).
Where does it cost a half-million dollars to be Shay Lipman, a real estate analyst at IBI in financial markets. It’s considered instable. Other Jewish organizations that set
a prime target for nuclear weapons controlled Ltd., an investment house in Tel Aviv, says the And so people have a tendency to over invest up emergency funds in the immediate
by a madman?” state’s ownership of 92 percent of Israel’s land in real estate.” aftermath of the disaster included B’nai
Israel has become a leader in the global real is a major factor in the housing shortage. Chaim Kaufman, a veteran real estate agent B’rith International (www.bnaibrith.org)
estate market, with prices soaring in double- “Although the government says it will whose offices in central Tel Aviv face Rabin and the Orthodox Union (www.OU.org/
digit rates in recent years, particularly in the release more land for building, it tends not Square, sees the deeply rooted desire to buy earthquake).
densely populated center of the country that to happen and so there is nothing to change apartments as part of the culture in Israel. Meanwhile, early indications show
includes Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Last year the amount of demand,” Lipman said. “I Some 70 percent of Israelis own their homes, that Japan’s Jewish community of ap-
the average price for owner-occupied homes don’t see prices dropping even though it has a relatively high figure compared with other proximately 1,000 people, most of whom
in the country rose more than 16 percent, become very difficult for young couples to nations. are located in or around Tokyo, has been
according to official statistics — a marked buy homes.” “Historically, Jews were wanderers and so largely unaffected, according to the
contrast to the gloomy straits of the inter- Foreign buyers of real estate in Israel, there is this need among people here to buy,” JFNA.
national housing market, particularly in the particularly Diaspora Jews from the United said Kaufman, formerly the president of the In Israel, a civilian Israeli search-and-
United States. States, England and France, have helped fuel real estate brokers association in Israel. rescue team organized by IsraAID, an
In 2010, the average home price in Tel demand and lifted prices, especially in the “Often you will see relatives and parents Israeli humanitarian umbrella group, left
Aviv was approximately $449,200 and ap- luxury market. In the past they tended to buy contributing money so adult children can buy Sunday, March 13, to assist in an area to
proximately $398,200 in Jerusalem. Haifa almost exclusively in Jerusalem, but in the a home,” he said. “As for the Diaspora Jews, be determined by Japanese authorities,
showed the most significant increase, with a past few years more have been buying up real buying here gives them the feeling that they according to The Jerusalem Post.
leap of 20 percent in one year, according to estate in cosmopolitan Tel Aviv. are being good Zionists and helping Israel.” Israel was one of the first countries
government figures. Israelis, too, are buying. In Israel, a coun- It’s also helped themselves, he noted. “Real to offer Japan aid, contacting Japanese
But with the high prices have come a great try approximately the size of New Jersey, estate here,” Kaufman said, “has proven itself officials just one hour after the quake on
challenge for families seeking affordable real estate long has been considered a safe to be an exceptional investment.” Friday, March 11.