Corona Brings Millionaires to Israel

According to Israeli tax authorities, the number of luxury apartments sold to foreign Jews has increased sharply

By Michael Selutin |
Photo: Gili Yaari /Flash90

The Israel Tax Authority published an anonymous list of real estate transactions each of which were valued at over 30 million shekels (over 9 million dollars) showing that a particularly large number of foreigners have purchased pricey plots of land and real estate here over the past year.

A real estate agent interviewed by the business newspaper Globes said that many Jews in Europe and the USA realized during the Corona crisis that Israel could be a safe haven for them, too. Despite travel restrictions last year, Jews were increasingly buying real estate in Israel, and such purchases are expected to increase when flights into the country resume.

Unlike in previous years, however, wealthy foreigners are more interested in land in the Holy Land than in apartments in the big cities. Here, too, the Corona crisis has probably contributed to this new attitude, because “COVID-19 created an immediate need for people who can afford to move into houses with large gardens with access to the great outdoors, with a clear preference for the proximity to the sea,” explained a broker.

Such an exodus from the city to the countryside also applies to wealthy Israelis who were locked down in their luxury apartments in the country’s cities last year. For example, Shlomo Kramer, co-founder of the software giant Checkpoint, bought a piece of land in Moshav Bnei Zion for 40 million shekels (over 12 million dollars). The property includes over 3 hectares of land, a 600 square meter house and 200 square meter guest house, as well as a large swimming pool, stables and a garden.

From an economic point of view, such direct investments are of course a very good thing. They bring money into the country, create jobs, and if the rich Jews really live here, they will spend their money in Israel. What typically has happened, at least in the past, is that such purchases create “ghost towns” or neighborhoods in which wealthy foreigners have their holiday apartments that stand vacant for most of the year. Even so, Israel is happy about every Jew who finds their way home, whether rich or poor.

 

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