OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Exec Peter Jarrett says Israel is among the top five countries in the world for high risk real estate prices, according to a report from “Globes.”
In an interview with Globes, Jarrett said that while the country is at risk of a housing bubble, there’s no guarantee one will develop.
The problem, Jarrett says, is that Israel did not build fast enough to meet basic demand. Now that demand is a problem, officials are trying to deter speculative activity, which can aggravate the situation, while trying to increase supply.
Rising home prices coupled with limited supply creates a higher risk of a housing bubble, and the potential for a rise in foreclosures in the country.
The investment market is slowing, too, due to the government’s efforts to lower housing prices.
A recent survey among 450 property investors found that many are choosing to hold onto assets rather than sell them. Investors are concerned about the measures the government has taken to help curb prices.
In Jerusalem, according to numbeo.com, the house price to income ratio is 16.61 and the mortgage as percentage of income is 107.42%.
Israelis also face tougher obstacles when buying property. A 30% deposit is required for owner-occupiers, while a 50% deposit is required for investors.
Jarrett says Israel is among the top countries in terms of high risk real estate prices, but a report from The Economist showed that home prices in the country rose at the fastest pace in the world between 2006 and 2016. Hong Kong led the world in fastest-rising home prices.
In inflation-adjusted terms (meaning on paper), Israeli home prices jumped 82.1% over that period. In nominal terms, prices increased by 118%.
In areas where experts believe a housing bubble is just developing, like Canada, New Zealand and Australia, prices increased by moderate percentages. Home prices increased by 48.8% in Canada, 37.1% in Australia and 45.1% in New Zealand.
Between the third quarter of 2015 and the third quarter of 2016, Israel ranked third on the list of home price increases, just behind Canada and New Zealand.
Officials have enacted measures to deter investors from the real estate market, operating under the assumption that the investment market is at least partly responsible for high cost of housing. One such proposed measure is a purchase tax on individuals with three or more homes.
Despite this, the majority of respondents said they did not foresee a decline in housing prices this year, and many even predicted an increase in prices. Only 11% predicted a decline in prices.
While 58% of respondents said they planned to hold onto their assets for a year to see where the market is going, 32% said they were going to continue investing in property.
The measure has done little to help improve owner-occupier purchases. In the first month of 2017, the public purchased fewer new apartments. In January, a total of 9,700 homes were purchased. The figure is 5% lower than December 2016, but a 3% increase over January 2016’s numbers.
Among the 9,700 homes sold in January, 2,200 were new homes. That figure is on par with those seen in 2013 and an 18% decrease from December 2016.
Rising housing prices and buying obstacles have also caused investors to consider markets overseas. Among survey participants, 22% had considered foreign investment and intended to make an investment. But 31% said they were not interested at all.
However, the economy minister has encouraged real estate investors to invest overseas, in London and Berlin. A number of investors are now seriously considering taking that advice. If more investors choose to take their investments overseas, it could impact Israel’s economy as a whole.