Home Sales Down for Fourth Straight Quarter

Construction of new residential buildings in Ramat Beit Shemesh. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

For the fourth quarter in a row, home sales in Israel have slowed, the Finance Ministry said Tuesday. Numbers for the third quarter of 2017 showed a significant fall in the purchase of homes in Q3 2017 over the same period in 2016.

A total of 23,700 homes were sold in the third quarter, 17 percent fewer than in the third quarter of 2016. That number includes homes that were part of the Price Resident program. If those homes — which are reserved only for young couples who meet eligibility requirements — are taken out of the equation, home sales in Q3 fell by 21 percent compared to the same period in 2016.

Under the Price Resident program, the state provides discounts on land for contractors who commit to building a portion of the apartments in a project specifically for the program, and they are marketed at a discounted price to young couples and others who do not own homes. To qualify to purchase an apartment under the program, candidates apply and are chosen by lottery.

This is the first time since 2011 that home sales have fallen for four quarters in a row, the Ministry said. The report did not discuss prices, pursuant to a recent decision by the finance minister that price reports will be published only by the Central Bureau of Statistics. With that, the Ministry report said that “in general, the issue of the number of home sales and price levels are not separate from one another. When sales are brisk, the amount of time between when a home is offered and when it is purchased is shorter, but during slower periods, a home could be on the market for many months before it is purchased. With that, the connection between supply and prices is a lagging indicator, and of course there are other factors involved in how prices are set.”