Amid housing shortage, Apartments in Israel ‘flying off shelves’

Israel’s red-hot real estate market has been booming over the last several months, with demand for housing far outpacing supply. Increased immigration to Israel has exacerbated the problem, with new citizens and people thinking about becoming citizens looking for a dwelling in the Jewish state. As the competition to purchase property in Israel becomes stiffer, new trends are emerging, such as the willingness to buy a home sight unseen.

Rafi Shulman, co-founder of Olim Advisors, an organization that helps people make aliyah and find a home in Israel, says the prices of properties are skyrocketing because of the crowded real estate market.

“The prices of houses continue to increase,” he told The Media Line. “It’s just mind-boggling.”

“There is just more demand, specifically in certain areas, like Ramat Beit Shemesh for example, or Modi’in or Jerusalem, that are popular places for new citizens,” Shulman added. “We work with developers and we get the sense that they [apartments] are literally flying off the shelves.”

Ariyel Maresky, the owner of RE/MAX Vision in Jerusalem, the largest real estate company in Israel’s capital city with more than 30 agents, also says the real estate market is booming.

“I’ve been in the field for almost 20 years and I don’t remember such a high demand before,” he told The Media Line.

However, Maresky disagrees that housing prices are going up more than usual.

“Both in sales and rentals, we don’t really see a larger surge in prices,” he said. “Jerusalem has always increased 5% to 7% annually. I don’t think this year is any different.”

The impact of higher demand, Maresky contends, is that homes are sold and rented quicker. The process of buying a new home has sped up to the point that he will not take non-Israelis on as clients unless they are set to go forward immediately with a purchase.

New citizens are contributing to higher demand. Nefesh B’Nefesh said that immigration from February 2021-April 2021 has increased about 30% from the same time period in 2020. Some 256 new citizens immigrated to Israel in February 2021 compared to 154 during the same month in 2020; 179 moved in March 2021 compared to 104 last year; and 311 came in April 2021 compared to 26 the previous April. In 2019, the number of new citizens in Israel from February through April in 2019 was 131 in February, 178 in March and 164 in April.

Claudia Zalta, founder of Casa Zalta in Efrat and a licensed real estate agent who works with new citizens, says the coronavirus and antisemitism are contributing to…

Read MoreAmid housing shortage, Apartments in Israel ‘flying off shelves’

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