Property prices steady despite uncertainty

Despite the threat of rocket fire and the existing economic crisis, Ashkelon's property prices have remained steady in recent times and are even rising, reports Local real estate agents report that Jerusalemites, French immigrants leaving Ashdod and Netanya, and British Jews making aliya are keeping Ashkelon's real estate market afloat, at least for now. According to the report, blocks of land along the Ashkelon shore in the Barnea neighborhood are selling for NIS 1.5 million, while blocks of land further inland are selling for NIS 800,000 to NIS 1m. A five-room, second-floor apartment in the city is selling for NIS 1.18m. Real estate agents said the demand was largely "unexplainable" in the current economic climate, although there were some clear groupings of people moving into the city, including Jerusalemites wanting to live by the sea, French-origin residents moving away from Ashdod or Netanya, and British Jews making aliya, often buying homes in Ashkelon before leaving England. The Israeli contractors' union said there had been a 1.5 percent drop in sales of homes around Israel because of the weakening economy, and this was true in Ashkelon too. Some 221 homes were sold in the city in the first half of 2008, compared with 248 in the same period last year. The union said this was in line with the fall in sales around the country, and that some cities had been hit far harder, with the number of sales in Ashdod, for example, falling from 402 in the first half of 2007 to just 222 in the same period this year.