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Country-wide Protests against Housing Shortage

Prime Minister Netanyahu cancelled a trip to eastern Europe to deal with the growing tent-city protests around the country demanding a solution to the housing crisis for young couples.

It’s become almost impossible for a young couple to purchase an apartment in the center of the country where there are employment prospects.

Housing Protesters - source-Jerusalem Post

Housing Protesters - source Jerusalem Post

Commenting on the tent protest, Netanyahu said, “The housing shortage is real… Young couples in Israel lack the wherewithal to buy an apartment, because apartments are too expensive. They are too expensive because there aren’t enough apartments, which is because of the government monopoly, which owns over 90% of the country’s land zoned for construction. Israel has the most convoluted planning commissions in the world and it takes more than five years to release an apartment for construction.”

Netanyahu added, “It is necessary to simplify these mechanisms. It took us two years to make these two changes, and this week we’re completing the reform in planning and building commissions and the Israel Land Administration. The government abolished the absurd ban for construction in the Dan Region (metropolitan Tel Aviv), various incentives have been created for contractors and buyers, and more will be created. We have linked up the periphery with highways, which has resulted in 48,000 new housing starts. ”

Here are some of the main points of the Prime Minister’s proposals this week:

• Reform of Land Administration and planning committees: Removal of barriers to marketing of land and to planning of housing units.

• Cheaper land for buying apartments: A 50 percent discount in price of land for construction of apartments, where contractors compete to offer lowest prices to buyers.

• Reduced-cost rentals: Construction of apartments for long-term rental, with 25-100 percent discount on land for contractors that offer lowest price to renters.

• Student housing: Construction of 10,000 new dormitory units for students.

• Cheap public transportation for students: Immediate 50 percent rail and bus discount for university and college students, to encourage them to live outside city centers.

• Municipal tax for empty apartments: Exemptions on municipal tax for empty apartments will be limited to six months.

source – globes.com and jpost.com

Fischer: Israel Home prices may double in 5 years

The good news is that Israel’s economy is probably the strongest it’s ever been.

– GDP grew 4.7% in 2010.

– GDP projection for 2011 is 5% and 2012 is 4.2 % (conservatively).

– Unemployment has fallen to an all time low of 6% closing in on full employment.

– Interest rates are low.

– Per capita income is $30,000

So what’s the problem? According to Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fisher, “Why are we worried? Because (housing) prices are rising by 16%, which means that prices will double within five years. This has to stop. The question is whether it will stop in a way that won’t harm the economy.”

Deputy BOI Governor Eckstein explained that the housing market increases were based on supply and demand. There just aren’t enough new housing starts. Eckstein said that the Israeli economy was sound and strong in terms of consumption, exports, unemployment, and other factors. “The risks and opportunities in the Israeli housing market are due to demand and consumption. Fiscal credibility and stability are important factors in the stability of the Israeli economy.”

Meanwhile Prime Minister Netanyahu is pushing a new “supertanker” housing plan to build over 113,000 new housing units over the next five years to help the situation.

-sources www.Globes.co.il

Land of honey and almond paste

Have you ever seen a Marzipan Elvis? Just down the road from us is a unique family attraction – the Marzipan Museum at Kfar Tavor.

Part of the new visitor center at the popular Tavor Winery it’s a fun activity for the whole family. There are amazing sculptures of celebrities and politicians as well as fairy tale characters.

It’s a family run business and you can watch the owners make the marzipan and praline chocolates.

After  a short film there’s a delightful workshop where you can make your own models from marzipan or chocolate – with help from expert instructors who adapt the workshop to every age from 3 to 93. Of course at the end, you can take your works home or eat them on the way. (ingredients supervised by the regional rabbi).

Enjoy the video – for more information visit their website.

Finance Minister tries to get professional offices out of residential properties.

In a strange but creative way to increase the supply of residential housing, the Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is offering an incentive for professionals to sell homes that they purchased to house their practices.

“Currently, 50,000 apartments or more, mostly in central Israel, are used for businesses by dentists, lawyers, and so on. We want to provide strong incentives to sell these properties by 2013 by giving a full exemption on the betterment tax,” said Steinitz.

Israel Tax Authority director general Yehuda Nasradishi is unimpressed by Steinitz’s proposed measures. “I see almost no effect because I don’t see these guys selling their apartments so quickly,” he said.

Here’s the full report in Globes…

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