Bat Yam, a city by the sea

The central suburb has shed its negative image.

Bat Yam (photo credit: Courtesy)
Bat Yam
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In the not-so-distant past, most Israelis dreamed of having a house with a garden. Now, on the eve of 2015, there are still many who want a private garden, but there are even more who want a dwelling with a sea view. They want to wake up to the sound of the waves.
Israel is a small country, so there is a chronic shortage of land. Consequently, houses with gardens are in relatively short supply; but dwellings with sea views are much rarer because building permits on the shoreline are in short supply. This shortage is reflected in very hefty prices.
Apartments on the shoreline of Tel Aviv and Herzliya are priced at millions of dollars, and in Netanya to the north prices are not much lower. In Bat Yam, to the south of Tel Aviv, prices are much more moderate.
Bat Yam has a marked Mediterranean ambience and is much favored by overseas buyers, especially from France, who want a home with a sea view. The fact that Bat Yam has a large North African community who have relatives in France also helps.
As a result of the French connection and Bat Yam’s location on the Mediterranean, properties on the Bat Yam seashore and properties on streets parallel to the seashore with sea views are very much in demand.
The popularity of Bat Yam is relatively new. Seven years ago, not many Israelis were willing to brave the hazards of living in Bat Yam. It was a very poor relation of Tel Aviv, with a high crime rate, rundown infrastructure, filthy streets and unkempt parks. Today, the streets are clean and safe. The parks are well maintained, and the sea beckons.
Bat Yam has shed its negative image, and demand for real estate, especially for properties opposite or in the vicinity of the seashore, has risen dramatically. And prices have risen with it. Compared to similar properties in the seaside cities of Tel Aviv and Netanya, prices are inexpensive. But they are catching up quickly.
Avi Rosen, executive VP of marketing and business development at the Nave real estate company, which is building a 42-story apartment building in the area, is very upbeat about the city.
“Bat Yam, especially the area near the sea, has vast potential,” he says. “Apartments with sea views generate great demand. And they are very limited. Because of zoning by-laws and the historical development of the seashore, most of the building land for sea view apartments in other cities has been taken up. Bat Yam is one of the few places where land for residential building purposes is still available. That is why we are building near the seafront in Bat Yam.”
Shlomo Grofman, chairman of the Faire real estate group, says, “Bat Yam has a lot going for it. It is adjacent to Tel Aviv-Jaffa, plots of building land are available, and prices are much lower than in Tel Aviv. Compared to such satellite cities as Holon and Petah Tikva, it has a very big advantage because it has a seafront.”
He adds, “We are building a 38-story residential tower designed to afford sea views to a large number of the apartments. Our development in Bat Yam is part of our strategy of building apartments on the seafront in Ashdod and Rishon Lezion.”
The part of Bat Yam that offers sea-view apartments started to take off in 2004. Developers realized the potential of Bat Yam and started building apartment blocks of more than 20 stories. It was an entrepreneurial risk, as not many Israelis with money were prepared to live in Bat Yam.
Meir Amir, owner of the RE/MAX real-estate agency in Bat Yam, says, “2004 was the start of a process that transformed this charming seaside city into an attractive residential area and an appealing real-estate investment venue.”
The new high-rise real estate projects in the area of the seashore were built to a high standard. At first, they attracted local Bat Yam residents who wanted to upgrade their living conditions, as well as Jews from France who had family in Bat Yam and had the means and the desire to acquire a foothold in Israel. Consequently, prices were much lower than in the surrounding cities. But soon affluent families from outside Bat Yam started eyeing Bat Yam as a place of residence and as a real- estate investment opportunity. Now demand has broadened considerably. In the past, very few middle-class Israelis able to afford a NIS 1.5 million home would have considered moving to Bat Yam.