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Religious Getting in on Buying Group Trend

Israel's religious are turning more and more to buying groups to offset home buying costs.
By Zalman Nelson
First Publish: 8/13/2009, 4:42 PM

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The trend toward forming buying groups for home construction projects is gaining popularity among Israel’s hareidi-religious public. The groups offer a practical solution for a quickly growing population that has relatively limited income.

One group in Modiin Elite, for example, is working on a 110 unit housing project in the city, according to The Marker. The 51 million shekel project calls for the construction of five buildings, each with 22 apartments that feature either three, four or five rooms.

For several years the move to buying groups has been picking up steam, fueled by the tremendous growth in the hareidi-religious community.  It is estimated that an additional 1,500 couples each month join the growing numbers of Israeli apartment seekers. According to leading rabbinical figures, 20,000 apartments are needed to satisfy the current demand.

As supply and demand pushes apartment prices ever higher, so has buying group popularity grown. To offset the rising costs, rabbinical figures have begun encouraging community members to form buying groups or join existing ones. Hareidi-religious families tend to have similar needs with regards to apartment spacing and design, making them an ideal population for such groups.

Most group members are young couples who rely on financial support from their parents and free loan societies (gemachs). Typical home loans can run from tens of thousands of shekels up to 200,000 shekels per couple. Typical apartment prices in the groups come out to 500,000 shekels for a three room apartment and 700,000 shekels for four rooms, prices far cheaper than those in equivalent non-religious areas.