In Israel, Lots of People Own Lots of Apartments

One person has 46 homes registered to his name; another owns more than 60 luxury properties through various companies.

Eyal Toueg

Around 5,400 people in Israel own five or more homes, while some 300 people own 10 or more, according to newly released data from the Tax Authority.

One person owns 46 homes, the most registered in the name of one person, according to the Tax Authority. Another four people own 29 or 30 homes.

The figures are based on reported transactions. They do not include data from companies or foreign residents, or inherited dwellings.

As a result, investors who register a home under companies, family members or associates are unlikely to be fully represented. The data also do not include apartments sold under the table; the underground economy is thought to play a significant role in the Israeli real estate business.

Thus probably many more people own multiple apartments. TheMarker recently encountered a French investor who owned more than 60 luxury apartments in Jerusalem through various companies.

The Tax Authority recently sent 107,000 letters to Israeli residents, telling them to report their revenue and assets. Some 42,000 of these letters were sent to people who owned at least three dwellings.

Between 2002 and 2013, around 430,000 homes were bought for investment purposes.

The identity of investors varies. In some cases, particularly in Tel Aviv, one person gradually buys up the apartments in a building; in other cases, the buyers purchase a home to live in but don’t sell when they move out.

Meanwhile, a debate has been raging over raising taxes on investment homes. People buying their second home already pay higher purchase tax, while rental income over 5,000 shekels ($1,367) a month is taxed as well. Investors also pay higher betterment tax.

The Finance Ministry does not want to raise taxes on investment homes further, arguing that the tax on rental income is hardly enforced and the state should start collecting that first.