Deep freeze

The weather in Sderot may be warm, but ongoing Kassam rocket attacks there have chilled the city's real estate marketõ

The Kassam attacks that have showered Sderot over recent weeks have brought the real estate market in the area to a standstill, leaving homeowners with little hope of selling or renting out their property any time soon. "Since the Kassam attacks started, there is no activity at all on the rental or on the sales side. We are open but everything is frozen. Not even the phone is ringing," said Yacov Levi at the Tivuch Bait real estate agency in Sderot. "We hope that once there will be calm again, we will be able to get back to some activity." Levi added that over the past year sales prices for homes in Sderot have dropped by about 20 percent, while rental prices remained steady. "Most people I know in Sderot are in rented accommodations and don't have the opportunity to leave Sderot, but selling off property today is certainly not an option," said Chana Melul, a Sderot resident who was seeking new rental accommodations just before the latest Kassam attacks commenced. Because of Sderot's difficult security situation, the local property market has become one of sellers only but with no buyers, according to Levi Itzhak, editor of the "Property Magazine" of listed house sales and rental prices across the country. "Most of the sellers would be happy to rent their property and rent an apartment somewhere else until the situation recovers, but the majority are not prepared to sell as the value of the property has dropped much, much below its real value," he said. After many months without a registered house sale, Itzhak noted that a month and a half ago, a three bedroom apartment in Sderot was sold for $35,000.