Ancient Caesarea Attracts a Younger Crowd

The magnificent port built by King Herod in Caesarea 2,000 years ago has sunk to a depth of five meters, but the nearby aqueduct that runs along the back of the beach still beautifies the unique coastline.

Avi Shmoul
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Avi Shmoul

The magnificent port built by King Herod in Caesarea 2,000 years ago has sunk to a depth of five meters, but the nearby aqueduct that runs along the back of the beach still beautifies the unique coastline.

The aqueduct has a real estate value that increases each year, similar to that of the seascape and the view of the lush green golf course. The proximity of residential buildings to these three locations and the enjoyment derived from the view thereof determines, more than anything else, the price of the homes in this prestigious community. For this reason, Caesarea zealously protects the bylaws that forbid construction of second stories in the first row of houses facing the sea, and has strict regulations governing the materials used in the finishes of the houses.

A private pool and air-conditioning are taken almost for granted in Caesarea. Those residents who don't have swimming pools, even if they live in one-of-a-kind houses, will have to reduce the valuation of their homes.

"Despite the economic situation in Israel, [Caesarea] has seen NIS 50 million worth of [real estate] deals over the last six months," says Assa Abramsky, the CEO of the Caesarea Development Company. "Caesarea has undergone a demographic change over the past year," he adds. "Young couples and families are buying up properties that were once used as vacation homes by foreign residents."

Abramsky notes that there has been a significant rise in the number of children in Caesarea. He says that the town now has 1,000 children, out of a population of 4,000, and that NIS 6 million has recently been invested in the construction of an elementary school.

Unlike in other cities and towns, Caesarea's neighborhood's (clusters) are numbered, rather than named. Clusters 2 and 8 are the oldest and most well-established, while 11 and 13 are the newest. In between, along the main thoroughfare of the town, are Clusters 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 10. Clusters 3, 9, 11, and 12 make up the south end of the town. These numbers, which are meaningless to the uninitiated, reflect the value of the properties built there and, indirectly, the status of their owners.

The most famous real estate deal closed in Caesarea this past year was the sale of a 1,000 square meter (10,800 square-foot) private home - by Prof. Danny Gur of Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital - for $7.5 million. The house, in Cluster 6, was eight years old and has a view of both the sea and the Roman aqueduct; it was sold privately, without the services of an agent.

Cluster 6 is as much in demand as adjacent Clusters 4 and 5, thanks mainly to the slope toward the sea and the age of the houses - around 15 years old. These homes give the impression that their owners are constantly competing for originality, and a Moroccan-style structure has recently joined the contest. With a built-up area of 700 square meters, including a basement, on a 1,500 square meter plot, it is being marketed by Eynav Real Estate for $3.5 million.

"Demand in recent years has encouraged property owners to renovate existing homes or to knock them down and build new ones," says Eynav Makmel. "The inventory of houses is limited, but demand is steadily rising. The highest demand is for houses in the $800,000 to $1 million range. Prospective buyers are well aware of the [prestige] of the neighborhoods."

Makmel says that in Cluster 4, which is the older than its neighbors, 5 and 6, many houses are up for sale as knockdowns. The prices, therefore, represent the value of the land and not the value of the structure. In one deal, a knockdown house on a 3.5-dunam plot without a view of the sea was sold for $1.8 million. "In general," says Makmel, "the first row from the sea sells for $700,000-$750,000 for a house on a 1-1.25 dunam plot."

Cluster 5, a bit farther to the north, exacts similar prices. Eynav recently sold a knockdown on 1.3 dunams of land (on high ground, with a view of the sea, but not in the first row) for $850,000, while media personality Dan Shilon bought a house on a 1.3 dunam plot in Cluster 5 for $820,000 some three years ago.

The oldest clusters, 2 and 8, are in the center of Caesarea. Knockdowns on 1-1.2 dunam plots in Cluster 8 sell for $550,000-$600,000. There are almost no houses or plots for sale in Cluster 2, the oldest and most prestigious of all the towns neighborhoods, where former president Ezer Weizman lives.

Land in the first row from the sea in Cluster 2 sells for around $1,000 per square meter. Houses that are farther from the sea sell for about $800 per square meter. An estate, including a built-up area of 700 square meters on a 2.5-dunam plot and 15 dunams of surrounding meadows, carries a price tag of $4.5 million.

Cluster 3, adjacent to 2 and 8, is like a step-sister. The land in this neighborhood falls under the jurisdiction of the Hof Carmel regional council and this downscales its image. Some of the houses in Cluster 3 are small cottages, the smallest homes in the town. There has also been no reparceling of the plots to allow for homes to be built on undeveloped land surrounding some of the existing structures.

Despite its image problems, Cluster 3 is close to the country club, the school and the synagogue. A two-family home in the first row from the sea, with a built-up area of 350 square meters on a 375 square meter plot sold recently for $436,000; a new 160 square meter two-story house on a 300 square meter plot sold a short while ago for $310,000; while a 90 square meter cottage with a garden sold for $250,000, setting the record for the lowest real estate deal in town.

Cluster 13 is still undergoing construction, but several new houses and undeveloped plots were sold this year. Three 1,000-square meter plots in the first row from the golf course sold for $580,000 each, while the lowest-priced plot of land, 600 square meters near the coast road, sold for $260,000.

Small apartments in the Neot Golf complex cost $105,000-125,000 for 2.5-3 rooms, depending on the size of the apartment and the floor it is on.

Cluster 12 has not yet been developed and the plots there are not even on the market yet, though the area will provide the land for a large portion of the 1,000 new homes planned for the town over the next several years.



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