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June 17, 2020 7:11 am

Amid COVID-19, Americans Seek Israeli Real Estate

avatar by Eliana Rudee / JNS.org

Opinion

A main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway is seen deserted, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, April 9, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad / File.

JNS.orgWhile the world waits to see how the coronavirus pandemic will affect real estate trends worldwide, Israel’s real estate is seeing a boom in interest — from investors purchasing properties as long-term investments to families expediting their aliyah and purchasing a home in the face of COVID-19 and rising antisemitism.

Israeli real estate lawyer Debbie Rosen-Solow works primarily with the Anglo community of new olim and investors making real estate transactions in Israel. Having been in the field for 20 years now, she expressed “seeing amazing trends and finding it a little bit overwhelming that there is so much interest right now.”

“I have clients who started the process of purchasing a home, and I wasn’t sure if they’d follow through because of the coronavirus,” Rosen-Solow told JNS, noting that “documents have taken more time with consulates and banks closed, so processing has been more difficult.”

“Not only are they following through,” she reported, “but many are expediting their aliyah dates because they are feeling more antisemitism in their communities, and because they believe that Israel has been handling the corona situation so well. They feel Israel is on top of things and [that] in Israel, every person really matters, whereas in America the public policy was affected by business decisions over the importance of a person’s life, especially the elderly.”

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Rosen-Solow recently led a webinar about purchasing real estate in Israel with more than 300 people tuning in.

Other trends that she reported include properties that used to be rented out through Airbnb coming onto the market fully furnished. And while mortgage interest rates have gone up slightly in Israel, banks have been “a bit more flexible and lenient” in the process of loan approval.

In another show of increasing interest in Israeli real estate, Natan Silver, a US-based investor and investing consultant, recently opened a WhatsApp group for potential buyers and renters in Israel, finding that despite market failures and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, “there’s still a high volume of potential buyers, renters, and investors, and the real estate market in Israel is going up.”

With the mix of the “idealism of a Jewish person owning property in Israel, yearning and desiring to return to our land,” and positive real estate trends over the last year, he said purchasing apartments in Israel is a safe investment in the long term.

In the United States, Silver said, “people are holding back on selling, afraid of having to sell their properties for a lower price.”

But in Israel, he countered, “everyone was expecting prices to go down; however, for that reason, everyone immediately ran to the market in Israel to see what’s going on. So sellers are seeing an increase in demand, and all of a sudden they are upping their prices now.”

“Israel is a great place to invest because the risk is very, very low compared to other places — there hasn’t been a decrease in prices in over 10 years, and the positive immigration and birth rates are one of the highest in the world,” he noted. “There is simply not enough development to match the demand, and for simple statistical reasons, properties will only go up in value.”

Becky Richter, a client of Rosen-Solow from Monsey, New York, said that the pandemic “has given us a push to use our money while it still has value. Also, of course, we see we are on the wrong side of the ocean when it comes to policy dealing with coronavirus.”

Eliana Rudee is a contributor to the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. She is a graduate of Scripps College, where she studied International Relations and Jewish Studies. Follow her @ellierudee.

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