The government is expected to approve on Sunday a series of moves that it hopes will further calm the real estate market. The proposals, presented last week by Finance Minister Gideon Sa'ar, include the cancellation of a tax exemption for profits on the sale of a second and third home – to come into effect in 2013 – and a tax credit for the re-conversion of apartments as units for people to live in, instead of the their current use as offices.
Steinitz said last week that the two moves will help open up the housing market significantly. By extending the tax exemption on the sale of a second or third home held for investment to 2013, Steinitz said that he hopes many investors will sell their “extra” apartments in order to take advantage of the exemption. In addition, he said, there were at least 50,000 units built originally as apartments that are now being used as offices, and encouraging the businesses that use that space to convert them back to living spaces should further increase the number of apartments for sale, thus satisfying demand and lowering prices, Steinitz said.