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Housing cabinet approves plans to boost housing supply


By Niv Elis

The housing cabinet on Monday approved two plans to boost housing supply and bring down the cost of apartments, particularly for young couples and first-time buyers.

“Our younger generation has rights, not just obligations, ” Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said. “A roof over your head is a basic right, and it’s our duty to supple one.”

The plans will produce a “massive supply” of apartments aimed at young couples, both in the periphery and high-demand areas, he said.

The first of the plans will broaden a mechanism for doling out subsidized state land to developers who promise the lowest cost for their units. Young couples who are first-time buyers will have first dibs on the apartments, on condition that they do not sell them for five years.

A tenth of the apartments wil lalso be designated for local residents. The land subsidies can go as high as 80 percent of the appraised value of the land, benchmarked from the beginning of June.

In areas where the scheme is expected to have less of an impact, the state will also offer development subsidies of NIS 40,000 to 60,000. The Finance Ministry estimated the grants and subsidies of the whole program would amount to NIS 200,000 on average per apartment unit.

The second plan will allow construction projects that are already in the works to expand by 20% without needing additional approvals. The temporary order, which will apply to buildings that do not yet have a frame built, allows developers to get on=the=spot approval to add more units, on condition that half those units are small apartments (under 75 square meters) appropriate for young couples, and none of the units exceeds 150 sq.m.

The plan is intended to make a quick push for new apartments using existing infrastructure, thus sidestepping the lengthy and costly approval process and need to build further infrastructure to accommodate new buildings.

Local authorities will exact a fee from increased building that they can use toward developing public spaces.

Overall, the Finance Ministry expects its initiatives to get 82,000 units into the planning process by the end of 2015, 45,000 of which will be on state land. The Bank of Israel has estimated that the country needs roughly 40,000 to 45,000 construction starts each year to meet the growing demand for housing.

The plans must still be approved by the Knesset before becoming law.

 

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Knesset approves Kahlon’s tax increases on apartments for investment


By Niv Elis

The Knesset on Monday approved Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s plan to increase taxes on apartments, a move intended to steer existing apartments out of the rental market and onto the sales market.

By making it more expensive for investors to buy apartments for renting out, the Finance Ministry hopes to keep more apartments on the market for home buyers, thus driving down the sales price.

The law will go into effect on June 24, not July 1 as earlier planned, in order to cover apartment buyers looking to quickly close deals ahead of the law coming into effect.

Tax rates will rise to 8 percent on apartments under NIS 1.12 million (currently at 5%), from NIS 1.12 m. to NIS 3.37m. (currently 6%) and from NIS 3.37m. to NIS 4.64m. (Currently 7%).  They will rise to 10% on apartments from NIS 4.64m. to NIS 15.47m. (currently 8%) and remain at 10% for apartments over NIS 15.47m.

“I’ve seen the entirety of things they (the Finance Ministry) want to do in housing, and for the first time we are talking about a serious process and, if it comes to fruition, we are on the right path,” said Finance Committee chairman MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ).

Zionist Union MK Manuel Trajtenberg, who had run as his party’s nominee for finance minister, congratulated Kahlon for getting the ball rolling.

“This is the first step in the right direction after six years of absent policy for failed attempts to deal with the insane increase in home prices,” Trajtenberg said.

The bill hit a brief sang when opposition parties objected to how the new rules apply to siblings who inherit an apartment. The apartment would be considered an investment apartment only if three or more siblings inherit it.

“You must find a solution to inheriting siblings starting at two siblings, and not just from there up,” said Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit. “We should define ownership as over  ‘a portion of the apartment’ and not a third of an apartment.”

The treasury promised to address the issue within a month, and the provision of a temporary measure in the bill brought most of the opposition on board to support it.

Finance Ministry director-general Shay Badad noted that the policy was the first in a series of steps intended to increase the supply of housing, but said this step was one that could have an immediate, if limited, impact.

Every percentage increase in the purchase tax, he said, would reduce the market of investors by 10%.


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Rents rise 6.6%in a year nationwide


Price of average home increases despite fall in sales

By Ori Chudy and Shlomit Tzur

August is the most active month in the residential rental market, especially with the new academic year approaching. Added to the pressure this year is the expectation that promised government programs will make buying an apartment cheaper, which is encouraging potential buyers to continue renting and to renew leases.

Rents rose 1.1 percent nationally in the second quarter of 2014 compared with the first quarter and 6.6% compared with the corresponding quarter of 2013, according to Central Bureau of Statistics data.

Since 2007 , rents have risen an average of 64.2% nationwide. In Tel Aviv they increased 85% in seven years from NIS 3,067 per month in the second quarter of 2007 to NIS 5,671 in the second quarter of  2014. In 2007, rents for large apartments (4.5 TO 5 Rooms) in Tel Aviv were the highest in the country at  NIS 4,849 per month.Today they are NIS 5,671.

In the Sharon region, average rents have risen 73% since 2007, while rents for large apartments increased 785.

The lowest rents in the second quarter of 2014 were for small apartments (1.5 to 2 rooms) in Haifa and its Bayside suburbs, at NIS 1,654 per month. In 2007 they were also the lowest rents nationwide at NIS 1,250. That is still a  32.3% increase, with a  5.5% annual return on investment for landlords.Renting out an apartment in the North yielded an average return of 5.2%.

Returns on investment for small apartments were 4.5% in Haifa, 4.2% in the central region and 4.75 in the South.

The lowest return for landlords for renting out large apartments in Tel Aviv and in Haifa, at 2.5% in both cities, despite the difference in prices.

The slowdown in the sale of homes continued alongside rising apartment prices in the second quarter of 2014, Government Assessor Tal Alderotti reported Monday. The price of an average 4 room apartment in Israels six largest cities rose 1.6 percent in the second quarter and 6% in the 12 months ending in June.

Average home prices rose most sharply in Ramle (7%) in the second quarter, followed by Eilat (6%), Jerusalem and Modiin (4% each ). Prices rose 1% in Tel Aviv in the second quarter and 9% over the 12 months ending in June..

Prices fell 1% in Holon and 4% in Beersheba in the second quarter. There was no change in prices in Ashkelon, Herzliya, and Kfar Saba in the second quarter.

There was a major slowdown in home sales in the second quarter, mainly of new homes because of the governments plan to charge 0% VAT to new home buyers. However, the low number of deals did not stem rising prices.


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Ministerial C’tee approves 0% VAT on new homes


The bill now moves on to the Knesset Finance Committee.

The changes already made include raising the eligibility threshold for applicants who did not serve in the IDF or National Service from NIS 600,000 to NIS 950,000, and eliminating the eligibility document. The revised bill also sets September 1 for the law to come into effect.

The bill is also opposed by Bank of Israel Governor Dr. Karnit Flug who fears that much of the savings in 0% VAT will not find its way into the buyer’s pockets.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com – on June 16, 2014

* The big question is, who will it benefit?


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Cabinet unanimously approves zero VAT plan


The goal is for the Knesset to approve the zero VAT bill for first-time homebuyers by September 1.

The cabinet today unanimously approved the zero VAT bill for first-time homebuyers of new apartments. The bill now goes to the Knesset Finance Committee and to the Knesset plenum. The goal is for the Knesset to approve the bill by September 1.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com – on June 22, 2014