There are still bargains to be had in Israeli real estate, in areas in the north and south of the country known as “the periphery” - but they're unlikely to last long, new numbers from the Central Bureau of Statistics show. Sales of apartments in the center of the country, and especially in Tel Aviv, were down in July, but sales in the south and north were up – with sales in the latter more than doubling in July over the number of sales in June.
Numbers are not in yet for August, but real estate experts said in several interviews with Israeli media on Tuesday that they believed the trend would continue, into the fall and winter. Agents in places like Be'ersheva, Ashkelon, Netivot, and Dimona all reported a significant increase in queries from potential buyers, while in the north, buyers are expressing interest in the suburbs of Haifa and other areas, including Pardes Hanna and Or Akiva.
Much of the interest, experts said, is due to the easy connections to the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas via Road 6 and Israel Railways– perhaps, the experts said, the most important growth factors in the expansion of the periphery. Speaking in an interview, Asher Goldenberg, a top official in the Azorim real estate development company, said that “prices in the north were always more attractive than prices in the center of the country, but a major change has taken place in recent years to raise prices to levels similar to those in the center. Much of this is due to new infrastructure, and especially transportation infrastructure.
“For example, the opening of the Carmel Tunnels and the extension of Road 6 north to the Somekh Junction brings the Haifa area much closer to the Tel Aviv area,” Goldenberg said. On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Interior Affairs authorized an extension of Road 6 northwards. The new section, when completed, will extend to the Somekh junction, just east of Haifa. Currently, the road ends about 20 kilometers south, at the Tishbi junction.
Similar extensions are planned for the southern end of Road 6, with plans to extend it south of Be'er Sheva – placing once far-removed communities like Dimona and Ofakim within commuting distance of the centers of employment. Prices are already higher, real estate experts said – and as Israelis get the message that they can live in once far-flung communities and commute back and forth to work in a reasonable amount of time, more people will be buying in these communities, with prices rising as well.