NIS 4.73 billion in new mortgages were granted in March, NIS 600,000 shy of the peak of June 2010, the Bank of Israel reported Thursday. The amount of new mortgages in March was 17 percent more than in February and 21.4% more than in March 2010.The number of new mortgages rose to 7,967 in March from 7,254 in February.The Bank of Israel said the amount of debt families are willing to assume to buy a home is also rising. The average mortgage rose to NIS 594,000 in March from NIS 556,000 in February.Earlier this week, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer warned that a real-estate bubble could jeopardize Israel’s financial system, as happened in the United States and other countries, if there is even a small increase in the default level of home buyers who cannot meet rising mortgage payments.Home prices have risen 62% since May 2007.Meanwhile, new-home sales fell 1.1% in March, the third consecutive monthly drop, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday. It was the sharpest one-month drop in new-home sales in 16 months.The 1,938 new homes sold in March were the lowest number since last October.Demand for new homes fell 0.4% in March, after falling 0.1% in February. Inventory fell for the eighth consecutive month, dropping 0.2% in March to 10,516 homes, the lowest figure since February 2010.