Bucking up

With the stronger dollar once again, developers are marketing their wares at a New York fair.

Kiryat Ha'uma 521 (photo credit: Courtesy )
Kiryat Ha'uma 521
(photo credit: Courtesy )
Developers from all over the country will be displaying their goods to potential US buyers at the end of this month, when local company Bayit BeYisrael (“a home in Israel”) holds an Israeli real estate fair at New York’s Marriott Marquis Hotel.
The company has been organizing such fairs in other areas with large Jewish populations since 1995, according to Serge Hadad, Bayit BeYisrael’s joint proprietor and manager.
“There is big potential demand for real estate in Israel from Jews in the Diaspora,” he tells In Jerusalem. “This year we already organized such fairs in Brussels and London. The fair in New York is our highlight for 2012.”
Many developers target overseas Jewish buyers, and many believe that potential demand has increased substantially in North America, the UK and Western Europe, if for differing reasons.
Demand in the US is increasing because the American dollar has strengthened, and consequently a dollar buys more bricks and mortar in Israel than it did a year ago. In the UK, increased demand is linked to the improving economy.
In continental Europe, the rise in demand has somewhat more negative reasons. The increasing numbers and radicalization of Muslims there have created an unhealthy atmosphere for the Jewish population, as the clashes between Israel and the Palestinians are reflected in the streets of Paris and other European cities.
In summary, the demand comes from those who want a foothold in Israel, those who want to invest in real estate and those who want to immigrate to the Jewish state.
“This year’s fairs are reflecting all these trends,” Emanuel Vatari, Bayit BeYisrael’s other joint manager, tells In Jerusalem. “The fair in New York reflects the improving economy in the US and the strong dollar. Last year we skipped our annual fair in New York because both the weak dollar and the bad economic situation in the US discouraged real estate purchases in Israel.”
He continues, “Since most Jews want to buy property in Jerusalem, the emphasis is on real estate in the Holy City. But the over 20 developers who are marketing their products have real-estate projects all over Israel.”
Additionally, he says, “the developers are promoting the sale of real estate in all price ranges. There are projects for the wealthy and for those who want a luxurious, well-located second home in Jerusalem, as well as for those who want to make aliya and need what can be termed more affordable housing.”
The real-estate market in Israel during the first half of 2012 and all of 2011 was very weak. Today it is recovering, and demand for real estate is rising. But there is a difference.
Until 2011’s fall in demand, there was a substantial demand for expensive premium real estate such as penthouses, rooftop apartments, mini-penthouses and duplexes, especially in Jerusalem. In those years, those apartments were the ones that sold first. Now they are the apartments that sell last.
Many of the developers of high-end projects that registered weak sales in 2011 target overseas buyers, and for them, the fair in New York is important. But the fair is not meant for wealthy buyers alone; the range of real estate on offer is large.
Among those promoting their projects there are the Africa Israel construction company, which is marketing its Arnona project. South Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood is popular with young Israeli families and newcomers from France and North America. In addition, Africa Israel is promoting a high-end project on the central Hanevi’im Street.
The Azorim company is also marketing an upscale project on Hanevi’im, “Hanevi’im Boutique” – which consists of apartments and a boutique hotel – as well as its palatial King David Residence on King David Street, one of the most expensive streets in the capital.
Besides these, Azorim is promoting five residential blocks in Arnona with a total of 100 apartments.
Bonei Hatichon construction and development is marketing its 340-apartment development in Arnona as well. The company’s VP sales, Dvir Granot, is upbeat about the fair.
“Overseas buyers are a very important element in our clientele,” he says. “There is an erroneous conception that overseas buyers are interested in expensive housing. It is true that overseas buyers acquire a very large percentage of the very expensive real estate on offer in Israel, but not all overseas buyers are wealthy individuals or families that can [shell] out millions of dollars for a home. Most buyers are people of limited means who either want to make aliya or want to make a modest real-estate investment in Jerusalem.
And that is what we are offering at the New York Fair.”
B. Yair is another large Jerusalem development company promoting its Jerusalem project, the prestigious Mishkanot Hauma development. Mishkanot Hauma is the new name of the old Foreign Ministry compound, which is now the locale for high-end apartment buildings. When fully completed, it will have approximately 1,000 apartments.
There are also the Yehuda Rahamim Construction Company’s exclusive 52-unit Supreme project, B. Yair’s 680-apartment development project and another 250 planned apartments in the last available plot of land in the compound, which have yet to be marketed by by the Israel Land Authority.
Nadav Lisovski, B. Yair’s VP marketing, is confident that demand in New York for his company’s project will be substantial.
“Mishkanot Hauma is a unique area, and US potential buyers who are heavy buyers of Jerusalem properties will be aware of this fact,” he says. “When completed, it will be inhabited by some 3,000 people – a small town in itself. But that is not all. Because of the shortage of land in central Jerusalem, it is the last neighborhood that will be built in such a central location. And its location is excellent – within walking distance of central Jerusalem, Jaffa Road, Ben-Yehuda Street, the commercial and entertainment center of the capital, and at the edge of the vast Sacher Park.”
He describes the development as “living in both the city center and the country,” and calls it “the newest and most modern [neighborhood] in Jerusalem.”
“Furthermore, in this mobile age, it has the added advantage of being a three-minute walk from the [future] train station,” he says. “From there, the new fast train will take a mere 19 minutes to reach Ben-Gurion Airport and 29 minutes to the center of Tel Aviv.” •