Prices hold up in well-off Ra'anana

Ra'anana property prices are steady, but in the high-end market segment they have fallen by some 20%.

Raanana 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Raanana 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Today English is commonly heard in the streets of Ra'anana. While Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have more Anglos, they are more or less diluted within a very large population. In Ra'anana this is not the case they form a hard core. Ra'anana is the city in Israel with the largest concentration of Anglos as a percentage of its population. According to rough estimates some 20 percent of its 73,000 residents originated from English speaking countries or are first generation descendants and therefore speak English as a mother tongue. This includes residents from the US, the UK, South Africa, Australia, Canada and Gibraltar etc. Furthermore Ra'anana has a long standing relationship with North America. Or more to the point with the Jewish community of that counrty. Ra'anana was founded in 1921 by the Ahuza Alef Society of New York, one of several societies formed in the United States to purchase land in Palestine and establish Jewish agricultural settlements. On April 2, 1922, the first group of pioneers from the US and Canada, consisting of four members of the Ahuza society, three laborers and two armed guards, set out by wagon from Tel Aviv. They set up camp with tents then huts and proceeded to work the land. In its early days, the settlement was called "Raananya." The Arab neighbors called it "Amerikiya" because so many of the early residents spoke English. Ra'anana has other assets besides representing the home of a large English speaking community. It is centrally situated in the Sharon region, its population is well off. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics it is placed high at number 8 in the socio economic pecking system which has a range of from 1 to 10. One of the advantages of living in Ra'anana is the job opportunities. The city is adjacent to Herzliya and Kfar Saba sandwiched between the two as it were. The three cities have the largest concentration of hi-tech industries in the country - the backbone of the economy. The industry not only generates in itself high paying jobs but it also attracts ancillary services and businesses which also offer job opportunities. The high socio-economic level is also reflected in the real estate market in the city. "At most times the real estate market in Ra'anana is vibrant with demand outpacing supply," Many Kazaz of the Re/Max real estate agency in Ra'anana told the The Jerusalem Post. "But in these difficult times the real estate scene can be described as dormant". Kazaz added that despite the fact that the market was dormant prices were holding up and they were not falling. This is explained by the fact that most residents are well-off. They have no pressing needs to sell and are unwilling to sell their property when prices are depressed. Prices are generally holding up but they are falling in the high-end segment of the market. This is understandable. Demand for expensive real estate dwellings comes from those who are at these times very much exposed to the cold winds of the current economic crisis. Highly paid executives or successful business men. The executives may have had to take a cut in their salaries or may be expecting one in the future and some may even have fears of losing their jobs all-together. Since businessmen are fearing a fall in their income not many in these circumstances are willing to dish out millions for a fancy dwelling. This is especially true when the purchase of these highly priced dwellings is financed by large mortgages with high monthly payments. In consequence over the course of the past year prices in the expensive market segment may have fallen by 20% on average. But Kazaz added that the prices in general were steady for the moment - an average four-room 120 square meters apartment in the city costs between NIS 1.1 million to NIS 1.25m. or $ 275,000 to $313,000. Levi Itzhak a well known assessor of real estate and editor of the Real Estate Price Guide publication is also very supportive of Ra'anana describing it as one of the more attractive real estate markets in Israel, in particular in the high end neighborhoods of Lev Hapark, where apartment prices vary from NIS 1.55m. to NIS 1.7m. or $388,000 to $425,000. Itzhak is not the only one who believes in investing in Ra'anana real estate. The Faire Fund which specializes in promoting real estate projects adapted to the needs of the middle classes is operating in Ra'anana. "We have recently acquired two plots of land on which we intend to erect two seven story buildings with 37 apartments in total," Shlomo Grofman the chairman of the Faire Fund told the Post . "We believe that we can attract customers from the high-tech industry and new immigrants from English speaking countries."