When adjusted for inflation, house prices rose by 8.66% in 2014. On a quarterly basis, nationwide house prices rose by 2% (2.1% in real terms) during the latest quarter, Q4 2014.
Gush Dan saw the highest house price increase during the year to Q4 2014, with prices rising by 14.69%. It was followed by the Southern district (13.81%), Sharon (10.98%), Tel Aviv (10.19%), and the Center and Jerusalem Periphery Towns (9.26%).
Other districts such as the Northern district and Jerusalem also experienced moderate year-on-year house price growth of 6.5% and 6%, respectively. Meanwhile, house prices in Qrayot Haifa (3.55%) and Haifa (2.31%) had relatively smaller increases, compared to other districts.
The countryís most expensive housing can be found in Tel Aviv, with an average price of owner-occupied dwellings of ILS 2,480,800 (US$ 640,701) in Q4 2014. It was followed by Jerusalem at ILS 1,712,700 (US$ 442,329) and Sharon at ILS 1,694,600 (US$ 437,654).
Israel experienced dramatic house prices rises in 2009 and 2010, despite domestic political uncertainty, security threats, and the global financial meltdown. The housing market returned to robust growth in 2012 and 2013.
- The average price of owner-occupied dwellings rose modestly by 4.1% (-0.49% inflation-adjusted) in 2008
- Property prices rose by 22.35% (18.15% inflation-adjusted) in 2009
- Property prices rose by 17.04% (14.22% inflation-adjusted) in 2010
- Property prices rose by just 0.04% (-2.39% inflation-adjusted) in 2011
- Property prices rose by 5.82% (4.12% inflation-adjusted) in 2012
- The average price of owner-occupied dwellings rose by 7.38% (5.43% inflation-adjusted) in 2013.
Demand is starting to pick up after declining in 2014. In March 2015, the total number of dwellings sold rose by 34.3% y-o-y to 2,478 units. In 2014, the total number of new dwellings sold was 22,492, down by 9.9% from a year earlier. Similarly, the total quantity demanded also fell by 8.8% y-o-y to 40,728 units in 2014.† The decline was attributed to the announcement of a 0% VAT plan by then Finance Minister Yair Lapid in March 2014, designed to exempt first-time home buyers from the 18% VAT. Globes reported that the announcement led to many frozen deals and to a sharp decline in new home purchases.
However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended further discussion of the 0% VAT plan in early September 2014 and demanded that Lapid freeze the bill. The following day, December 2, 2014, PM Netanyahu fired Lapid from his post as Finance Minister, along with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
The total number of dwelling completions rose by 49.1% y-o-y In February 2015 to 4,415 units, according to the CBS. In contrast, dwelling starts fell by 5.9% y-o-y to 3,947 units in February 2015.
Analysis of Israel Residential Property Market »
These are the sort of prices that can be seen in Swiss cities of Geneva and Zurich, or in Canadaís Toronto and Vancouver.
The Bank of Israel issued a directive in October 2012 putting a ceiling on how much a home buyer can borrow against the price of house he is buying. Yet it denies that there is a housing bubble in Israel.
In Herzliyah Pituach, a 120 sq. m. apartment now costs on average, US$ 12,800 per sq. m.
Renting an apartment in Tel Aviv would cost you anywhere from US$ 19 per sq. m. per month to around US$ 26 per sq. m. per month, which means that you can rent a 60 sq. m. apartment for about US$ 1,500 per month, and a 120 sq. m. apartment for around US$ 2,300 per month. (We donít have rental figures for apartments in Herzliyah Pituach as it is an exclusive enclave whose rents are highly seasonal.)
Gross rental yields for apartments in Tel Aviv, i.e., the gross return on investment in an apartment if fully rented out, are under 3%, which is very poor. This tends to support the popular view that property is somewhat overpriced.
Capital Gains: Most properties sold in Israel are exempt from capital gains tax. If the gains are taxable, the net gain is taxed at the standard income tax rates.
Inheritance: Israel has no inheritance tax.
Residents: Resident individuals are taxed on their worldwide income and capital gains at progressive rates, from 10% to 48% in 2012.
In Q4 2014:
- Private consumption was strong, rising by 7.9% y-o-y.†
- Government consumption rose by 8.5%.†
- Exports surged by 12.7%, following meagre growth of 1.3% the previous quarter, while imports contracted by 2.9%.
Israelís economy expanded by 2.8% during the whole year of 2014, a slowdown from the previous yearsí expansion of 3.2% in 2013, 3% in 2012, 4.2% in 2011, and 5.7% in 2010, according to the IMF. The slowdown was partly due to the Operation Protective Edge launched by Israel in July 2014, which aimed to stop rocket fire from Gaza Strip to Israel. The operation lasted for more than one and a half month. Both parties accepted a cease-fire on August 26, 2014.
The Bank of Israel expects 3.2% GDP expansion in 2015 and around 3.5% in 2016.
In March 2015, the countryís unemployment rate was 5.3%, according to CBS. Despite the economic slowdown in 2014, unemployment fell to 5.9% from around 6.2% in 2013.
Inflation was -1% in March and February 2015, down from -0.5% inflation in January 2015, according to the CBS. In 2014, the countryís budget deficit was around 2.8% of GDP.
The BOIís target of 1-3% inflation is seemingly unattainable this year as the central bankís research department predicts -0.1% inflation in 2015. The target is only expected to be reached in 2016, when inflation is predicted to rise to 1.7%.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of the Likud party, retained his post as Israelís prime minister after winning the latest legislative election last March 2015. Likud won 30 seats, while the opposition Zionist Union came second, nabbing 24 seats.
Likudís win came as a surprise since it had trailed behind the Zionist Union in pre-election polls prompting PM Netanyahu to state that a Palestinian state will not be established during his term (if he remained in power), in an interview published by the daily Maariv newspaper before the March 17 elections. This statement, though now retracted, and Netanyahuís return to power, puts Israel in a difficult position in relation to the US and the international community's support for the establishment of a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.