Housing Starts Down 22 Percent Over Past Year, Statistics Show

Construction work on new homes outside Afula. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

In another sign that Israel’s real estate market is cooling off, a report by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) shows that new housing starts were down 22 percent in the 12 months up to April, as compared to the previous 12 months. In addition, the rate of completed housing – when apartments are ready for occupancy or sale – was down 4.3 percent in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the same period a year earlier.

According to the statistics in the CBS report, the downward trend in housing starts began in the last quarter of 2016. Since then, housing starts have been down an average of 7.5 percent in every quarter. The biggest drops – of about 30 percent – were in Jewish towns in Yehudah and Shomron, and the Haifa and Yerushalayim areas. In some cities, including Ashkelon and Rishon LeZion, housing starts were actually up.

In a separate report last week, the CBS said that sales of new homes fell 19.2 percent between May 2017 and April 2018, compared to sales during the 12 previous months. A total of 21,956 homes were sold during the period. With that, sales ticked up significantly – by 10 percent – in April, over the previous month. Some 1,731 homes were sold in April, compared to 1,568 in March, the figures showed.

Demand for homes, on the other hand, was rising. An analysis of the number of homes available for immediate sale, and the rate of construction of new homes that have not been marketed, showed that there was an 0.7-percent increase in demand in the period between January and March 2018, compared to the previous three months.