Real estate unscathed by war

As businesses across the country look to recover from the war, the real estate industry appears to have emerged as one sector little-affected by the conflict.

By SHARON WROBEL
August 22, 2006 07:22
2 minute read.
for sale sign 88

for sale sign 88. (photo credit: )

 
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As businesses across the country look to recover from the war in the North, the real estate industry appears to have emerged as one sector little-affected by the conflict. "We have seen a very minor drop in business deals, mainly because all real estate activity was frozen only from Hadera and northwards [during the hostilities], said Hanan Schlesinger, CEO of real estate company Anglo-Saxon. "In the Center and South, we saw a slight, hardly felt delay in the execution of real estate deals." According to the latest data from finehome.co.il, the independent information Internet portal for mortgages, the number of mortgage applications in the North has increased to 14 percent of all applications across the country since the cease-fire. A finehome nationwide survey of 500 mortgage applications conducted during the month of July showed that one-tenth of applications were for properties in Haifa and northern Israel, despite the war, which broke out on July 12. Finehome found that Israel's mortgage market was unaffected by the war in the North except for a slight impact on the purchase of properties in the immediate area of the conflict. Rather, mortgage applications elsewhere in the country rose by 10%. The highest number of applications was registered in the Tel Aviv area with 24% of applications nationwide, followed by the Sharon region with 12.5% of all mortgages, Rishon LeZion-Rehovot in third place with 11.5%, followed by Netanya-Hadera with 9%. "During the conflict the real estate market in the North was put on hold as if someone had pressed the pause button on a tape recorder," said Dror Aloni, manager of Anglo-Saxon Haifa. "Now, the market is slowly returning to normal with high demand for rental housing, which is typical for August, but prices have not come down." Aloni added that there was much demand for housing with a proper bomb shelter or built-in security rooms. Away from the conflict area, the market was also holding up. "The war was short enough and far enough away to keep the real estate market contained," said Bennie Loval, manager of Anglo-Saxon Jerusalem. "Although a few foreign buyers had put their deals on hold, taking a wait-and-see position, they have become far less sensitive to the security situation than during the Intifada." Loval believes, however, that only the upcoming holiday period will truly show whether there was an impact from the war. The September-October period during which the Jewish holidays fall is traditionally a time when foreigners take a closer look at the local real estate market. Professionals said prices had remained stable, as well. "We had not seen owners lowering their prices in fear of the war," said Alyssa Friedland, co-owner of RE/MAX Vision and RE/MAX Capital in Jerusalem. RE/MAX Israel has over 80 offices throughout the country. "Prices remained stable as foreign buyers were not leaving the market." And, even in the aftermath of the war, Friedland said there was a lot of optimism in the market. "We have more than 15 families from our New York program [which provides a full-range of services for purchasing a home in Israel] arriving in Israel by the end of this summer and none of them have cancelled their plans," she said. "Furthermore, we have noticed an interesting trend by Nefesh B' Nefesh arrivals who recently have immediately jumped into house purchases since they know market prices have been going up and they don't want to miss the boat."

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