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July 28, 2016 / 22 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘housing’

Housing Ministry to Ease Requirements for Foreign Companies Building in Israel

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Galant has called on foreign construction companies to build in Israel new housing compounds of 1,000 units and more, in collaboration with local companies, and the Ministry of Housing will ease the requirements for the foreign builders’ integration in the Israeli market, Yediot Aharonot reported Monday. Some of the eased conditions are: the requirement for a company’s annual business cycle was lowered from $500 million to $300 million; the requirement to prove the minimum volume of construction will be spread over five rather than three years.; and building for housing only will be expanded to include proposals for office space construction.

The companies will be required to show that they’ve built at least one 25-story or two 15-story towers outside their own home country.

Dozens of foreign construction companies have already responded with interest to the call, including builders from China, Turkey, the US, Canada, and several European outfits. The Housing ministry plans to accept only two companies from the same country.

“One of the main areas of economic activity in the State of Israel is the construction industry, whose importance is reflected in its significant scope, investments and accumulated capital,” Minister Galant wrote in his ministry’s report, Israel Housing Market Emerging Opportunities, May 2016. “The industrialization and productivity levels in this area are relatively low compared to other sectors of the Israeli economy and worldwide. As a growing state, with one of the highest rates of population growth in the developed world, increasing housing construction capacity is of crucial importance, both as an answer to an immediate need for new homes as well as a contributing factor to the growth of the Israeli economy.”

“The key factor for resolving the housing crisis is a conceptual change in the planning process, the land development and the construction methods. A fundamental change is required, which, at the end of the process, will enable the entire population of the State of Israel to obtain appropriate housing solutions within a reasonable time and at reasonable prices,” Galant wrote.

But Roni Brick of the Israel Builders Association told Yediot that flooding the Israeli construction industry with foreign competition is not the right way to increase production, and that what the field needs desperately is an infusion of foreign labor, not foreign companies.

JNi.Media

New Legislation Would Free Up $1.5 Billion in Credit for Israeli Housing Starts

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Construction companies are no longer allowed to charge their customers fees for their own legal services, according to a key item in a new amendment to the Sales Law being promoted by the Ministry of Housing and Construction, Calcalist reported Thursday. Another significant change in the law would remove the requirement that contractors post a bank guarantee for the VAT portion of the cost of the apartment, and instead the state would set up a special fund to cover the buyers’ outlay. This would save contractors millions of dollars, releasing more than $1.5 billion in bank credit to the real estate market. The construction firm would still have to insure the rest of the buyer’s investment, in case said firm goes out of business.

The Housing Ministry, which began the move to amend the law nine months ago, is hoping the changes would pass by the end of the Knesset summer session in August. The move was spurred by the common understanding that the construction section of the current Sales Law is outdated, and has led real estate companies to develop their own ways of bypassing it, at the expense of their customers. The amendments were forged by an inter-office team that included Deputy Attorney General Erez Kamenetz, the Consumer Protection Authority, the Finance Ministry, and the Tax Authority.

“It is our responsibility to help the Israeli public get accessible housing, while legally protecting the buyers and maintaining fairness in all processes,” Minister of Housing Yoav Galant told Calcalist. One of the problems in the way housing business is done in Israel has to do with the buyer paying the contractor’s attorney for processing the new apartment at the Land Registry Office (the local word for the office is Tabu — no relation to taboos, the word is simply the Arabic mispronunciation of the Turkish word Tapu, or title-deed). A recent legislation limited the fees paid to said attorney to about $1,300, but even so, the clients may believe that by paying his fees the attorney is now working for them, which he certainly isn’t — he remains in the service of the contractor.

The Housing Ministry believes that registering the apartment and providing a legal deed is part of the overall product the contractor is expected to provide, and so they now want to go one step further and eliminate altogether the requirement for buyers to pay for this service.

There are other amendments which are not as crucial economically, but certainly add transparency to the process of buying an apartment in Israel. Companies would have to inform buyers of every change they intend to make in the original construction plan, for instance, if they want to add apartments. They also must inform buyers of changes in nearby lots, so that, if, for instance, their magical view of the Mediterranean would now be blocked by a 48-story tower, buyers would have the opportunity to get out of the deal and look elsewhere.

Contractors may no longer be permitted to sell apartments on land that is yet to be re-zoned for construction. If a plan for a new housing construction exists but the permit for building has yet to be issued, firms may sell units to buyers, but only with the proviso that the project is not yet legally authorized, providing the date for the expected authorization, and that buyers can get their money back in its entirety should the permit not be issued.

Also, any significant change in a purchased apartment’s layout, including in common areas such as storage spaces and lobbies, would be considered legally as failure to fulfill the contractor’s commitment and buyers may recoup their investment.

JNi.Media

Kulanu’s Leftwing Trend Continues: Housing Minister Supports Settlements Freeze

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

After the resignation of Kulanu Environment Minister Avi Gabbay on Friday, because he objected to the prime minister’s replacing Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon with Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman; and after Kulanu chairman and Finance Minster Moshe Kahlon’s tweet that he would veto any attempt to curb the legislative ambitions of the Israeli Supreme Court; now Kulanu’s Housing Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff Wannabe Yoav Galant, who was forced to resign from the Army under the cloud of a scandal, has also moved to pull his fledgling party to the left. According to a Jewish Insider report, Gallant spoke to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York last week and told them his government’s policy was to freeze construction in the Judea and Samaria Jewish settlements. Galant also warned against the emergence of a two-nation state if the 2-state solution is not implemented, and advocated moving in that direction even without cooperation from the PA Arabs.

In other words, at this point there is no daylight between the views of Meretz and at least one Netanyahu government minister on the fate of the Jewish communities on the “wrong” side of the green line: they must come down and every penny Israel invests in adding to them is a penny wasted.

According to the report, Galant was asked several times regarding settlement construction, and his response each time should constitute a challenge to all of Kulanu’s partners in Netanyahu’s government. Galant spelled out that “fundamentally, I’m carrying out the government’s policy that we do not build in Judea and Samaria.” He added, apologetically: “But I’m not the only one who holds the capacity to build. There are private people who build, and other parts of the government which are acting according to the instructions of other ministers.” Make that the Habayit Hayehudi ministers, specifically Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel who is in charge of the Settlement Division.

Galant was concerned about the stalled negotiations with the PA. “In ten years there will be 7 million Palestinians and 7 million Jews west of the Jordan River,” he said, obviously accepting the Arab census information on blind faith. The real figures are less alarming, and the figures of Israel’s birthrate are more encouraging than ever. It turns out young Israeli couples, especially the religious ones, are not watching TV or surfing the Internet at night.

Galant also suggested that even though Israel does not have a partner for peace on the Arab side, this should not hinder its progress towards the 2-state target. “The question rises, what would happen should we take our hands of this plane’s rudders and just let it continue to glide,” Galant asked. “What will happen in one generation?” He, apparently knows what is bound to happen: “We’ve seen what happened in the Balkans,” he said, concluding that “thinking about the future obligates us as a government to bring about a solution even if the other side does not want it.”

Naturally, with the successful record of a unilateral pullout from Gaza to support it, who can refute Galant’s argument. Even the idea of the IDF staying out of the PA areas is terrifying to most Israelis, who recall what the PLO terror network was able to accomplish without Israeli tight supervision. The notion of evacuating the Jews of Area C is both criminally absurd and contrary to the wishes of the majority of Israeli voters.

As polls have shown, the Kulanu party is destined to leave the Israeli political map as quickly as it has appeared, shrinking from its current ten MKs to 6, and making room at the unaffiliated center for the Yair Lapid Yesh Atid party which may end up as the second largest party in the Knesset next time, with a projected 19 to 21 seats. All of Kulanu’s vagaries in the coming weeks should be viewed in that context: a party on its way to extinction attempting to soar once more by flapping its arms with great vigor. It’s not a very attractive image, and in this case it is also likely to inflict some damage on Jews.

JNi.Media

Muslim Swedish Housing Minister Kaplan Resigns after Comparing Israel to Nazis

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Mehmet Kaplan (apparently no Jewish relation), 44, Sweden’s housing minister, resigned this week over comments he had made comparing Israel’s treatment of Arabs to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

The Turkish-born Kaplan, a Green Party member, former spokesman of Sweden’s Muslim Council, and a passenger on the “Freedom Flotilla” that tried to break through the IDF security blockade of Gaza in 2010, denied any wrongdoing, saying he was resigning because public and media criticism were interfering with his ability to do his job. He said he opposed “all forms of extremism, whether nationalistic, religious or in any other form” and supported “human rights, democracy and dialogue.”

Swedish TV fished out footage of Kaplan from seven years ago, where he says, “Israelis treat Palestinians in a way that is very like that in which Jews were treated during Germany in the 1930s.”

Israeli ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman described Kaplan’s comments as “deeply anti-Semitic.” Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallström—remember her?—said the comments were “terrible.”

Wallström was embroiled in a housing scandal last year. Not connected to Kaplan.

“Let me be clear: [my resignation] is not a confirmation of reports about me that I consider wrongful. I know who I am and what I have done,” Kaplan told reporters in Stockholm. He had also come under fire a week ago, after Swedish media published photos of him dining with Turkish Swedish leaders, including the local leader of an ultra-nationalist group called Gray Wolves.

In 2014 Kaplan compared the young Muslims from Sweden who went to fight for ISIS in Syria with the Swedes who fought for Finland against Russia in WW2.

JNi.Media

Grave Watching

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Some fifty Hareidi men stand in protest at a construction site in Gilo where ancient grave were found while digging.

They believe the bodies found are of Jews, and do not want them moved for the construction of new housing units that were planned for the site.

Photo of the Day

JNF Plans to Build 3,000 Homes on Land It Owns in Tel Aviv Area

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) plans to build up to 3,000 residential units on land it owns in the greater Tel Aviv area.

TheJewishPress.com reported here last week that the JNF owns land worth approximately $1.75 billion.

It plans to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the new project following an approval of the new policy last month.

No timetable has been announced, Globes reported, but building on its own land will save the cost and bureaucracy of having to deal with Israel Land Authority tenders.

However, it will have to apply for building permits on land where there are no existing apartments or which needs to be re-zoned, meaning it could be years before final approval is received.

The bureaucratic procedures may be shorter than usual because the plan has been coordinated with the government, which has promised that it will ease the housing shortage in the metropolitan Tel Aviv region.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Israel State Comptroller’s Report Details Housing Crisis

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Israel’s state comptroller Joseph Shapira released his report Wednesday on the nation’s housing crisis, detailing a 55 percent rise in the price of a home between 2008 and 2013.

According to the 294 page report, rent costs rose by 30 percent in the same period, and that “no solution was found” by the Netanyahu government. Wage raises did not match the skyrocketing prices, the report noted, and,”The various government departments responded with no strategic plan of action in the long term, and without having set any goals.”

What was once a given – the Israeli tradition of both sets of parents splitting the cost of buying an apartment for their children when the young couple marries – is today a given no longer. For many Israelis the high cost of living has put the tradition entirely out of reach. Rents are also significantly higher, even in communities located in the “periphery.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party released a statement in response to the damning report, saying that only a strong government led by Netanyahu could resolve the crisis, “just as we did with many other reforms and deep institutional changes we implemented, which made the Israeli economy strong and competitive.”

Former Likud MK and current candidate Prof. Benny Begin told the Anglo Voters’ debate at Cinema City in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, “In 2009, less than 20,000 apartments were being built annually. This year with Housing Minister Uri Ariel, 50,000 were built. But we need a stable government, a strong backbone and a strong Likud to keep one government in place in order to continue that trend,” he emphasized.

Yisrael Beytenu candidate Ashley Perry, also present at the debate, said his party would strengthen the economy and the housing market by helping families purchase new homes with a mortgage designed to avoid the difficult issue of the 33 percent out-of-reach down payment. For Israelis who have served their country via the military, Perry said, there should be a 90 percent mortgage incentive plan and after-school programs for working mothers to help them earn a living.

Yesh Atid MK Rabbi Dov Lipman, another candidate present at Wednesday evening’s Ango Vote debate, also underlined the fact that more than 50,000 housing units were built this past year but said his party chairman had been sabotaged. “The plan was to build thousands of rental units as well,” he said, “but there was not enough time for Yesh Atid to implement our entire housing improvement plan, which involved an increase of NIS 10 billion in the 2015 budget. It was on the table when elections were called. We wanted to pass the budget, and then call the elections – but the prime minister refused.”

Yachad candidate Hillik Bar also blamed the prime minister, noting that at least two million Israelis live in rented housing. “It’s a jungle,” he said. “This government has made no attempt to reduce the price of housing.”

Bayit Yehudi candidate Uri Banks slammed Yesh Atid party chairman and Finance Minister Yair Lapid altogether over the issue, saying he “came in with a foolish plan which increased demand without the supply to meet it. He committed suicide on that plan and brought us to these elections.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-state-comptrollers-report-details-housing-crisis/2015/02/25/

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