Tel Aviv rents rise fastest nationwide in the year

Housing rental costs in Tel Aviv jumped an average of 8% in the past year, much more than the 5.3% increase throughout the country, according to a survey released by the Central Bureau of Statistics. In the first quarter alone rents in Tel Aviv rose 3.6% to an overall average of NIS 5,059 a month. The average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment nationwide reached NIS 3,833 a month, while two-bedroom units averaged NIS 4,711 and three-bedroom apartments reached an average of NIS 6,078, the CBS said. The greatest jump registered nationwide for the year was for four-room apartments, which rose 7% nationwide. The average price of purchasing a home, however, rose 11% during the same period. ‏(Arik Mirovsky‏)

Caesarstone to supply countertops to Ikea USA

Caesarstone, the maker of quartz-composite countertops, said Thursday it signed an agreement with Ikea USA to become the retail chain’s exclusive supplier of non-laminated kitchen countertops. The agreement with the U.S. unit of the giant Swedish furniture retailer will give Caesarstone a leg-up on its bigger rival, the Spanish company Silestone, which markets its products through do-it-yourself chains Lowes and Home Depot while Caesarstone has sold through builders and building-supply companies. Nevertheless, the agreement’s contribution to revenue is already included in Caesarstone’s 2013 revenue forecast of $330 million to $340 million. ‏(Yoram Gabison‏)

Central bank: 4.8% of mortgage holders behind in payments

At least 42,000 families in Israel, about 4.8% of all mortgage holders, are at least three months behind in their mortgage payments, Bank of Israel figures released Thursday estimated. The central bank said the rate has been stable over the last few years years and doesn’t indicate a worsening trend, despite rising home prices and larger home loans. Commenting on reports that the rate of mortgage delinquency in Israel is worse than in Europe, the Bank of Israel said the reports don’t fall under its responsibility and that figures aren’t necessarily comparable to one another. ‏(Sivan Aizescu and Raz Smolsky‏)