It takes more than 11 years of household earnings to pay for a house these days, the Bank of Israel reported this week. But that is an average; it doesn’t mean you will have to get up and go to work for 2,860 mornings just to pay for a proper roof over your head.
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Even in Tel Aviv, Israel’s most expensive city, there are bargains to be had. A distance of just a few blocks can mean a difference of hundreds of percent in price. A survey by TheMarker and the real estate website Madlan found some relatively low-priced homes for prospective buyers.
Our recommendation for those who cannot find their dream home in the neighborhood they want is to compromise — whether on the size of the apartment, the age of the building or, most important of all, the location. Here are the 10 best examples we found.
1. To live in Tel Aviv's posh Neve Tzedek at half the price
Many Israelis, especially singles, young couples and families, dream of living in the picturesque neighborhood of Neve Tzedek in south Tel Aviv not far from the Mediterranean Sea, restaurants and the trendiest nightlife in the big city. The prices there have rocketed up over the past two decades due to gentrification and it now is out of reach for most any normal person. But there are still a few bargains left in small apartments in very old buildings.
If you have your doubts, take a look at the sale last November for 1.25 million shekels ($360,000 ) of a -square-foot apartment on the top floor of a three-story building, with a huge open roof space of 614 square feet. The building was built in 1941, but the sea has not changed — or moved — and compare this to a third-floor apartment in the Neve Tzedek Tower farther away from the sea that recently sold for 2.4 million shekels.
2. Between Sheinkin and Street and Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of Tel Aviv
Living in the romantic heart of early Tel Aviv in the Bialik Compound area, and a quarter mile from the sea seems to be an impossible goal for anyone with less than 2.5 million to 3 million shekels to spend. But here is an apartment there for only 1.2 million shekels that sold in May 2013. True, the building dates back to 1933, and the two-room apartment is only 580 square feet, but it is on the first of three floors. A 625-square-foot apartment in a 15-year-old building nearby sold last December for 2.7 million shekels.
3. It’s not too late for Tel Aviv's Yad Eliyahu
Another bargain in Tel Aviv is in a neighborhood that has lately seen rising prices and turned the not so distant prices of less than 1 million shekels into history. A 810-square-foot apartment in Yad Eliyahu sold last October for 1.26 million shekels, while only 300 feet away, a similar-sized apartment sold in May 2013 for 400,000 shekels more. Of course, the cheaper one was on the second floor of a two-story building built in 1948, while the more expensive one was just 15 years old.
4. Holon for a million
A four-room apartment of only 820 square feet on the second floor of a four-story building in the Kiryat Haavoda neighborhood of Holon sold in September 2013 for about 1 million shekels. The building dates back to 1960, but the average price last year for a four-room second-hand apartment in Holon was 1.4 million shekels, and a 1075-square-foot apartment in a seven-year-old building on Bialik Street in the same neighborhood sold for over twice the price, 2.18 million shekels in August 2013.
5. A higher floor and bigger space cost a million shekels more
Two four-room apartments were sold near the sea in Netanya — and the difference in price was almost 1 million shekels. The cheaper one, a 820-square-foot apartment on Lubotkin Street in the Neot Shaked neighborhood, sold in January 2013 for almost 710,000 shekels. A year later, only 1,000 feet away on Habrigada Hayehudit Street, a 50% larger apartment sold in January 2014 for 250% of the price, 1.7 million shekels. Both apartments were in buildings over 30 years old. The big differences were the size and the floor: The more expensive one is on the ninth floor out of ten, while the cheaper on was on the second floor of eight.
6. Affordable on Mount Carmel in Haifa
Four-room apartments on Mount Carmel in Haifa in general, and in the western Carmel neighborhood in particular, have moved far out of reach of average home buyers in recent years, with prices passing the 1.1-million-shekels bar on average. But there are big differences within the neighborhood: A 970-square-foot apartment in a 24-year-old building on Derech Hayam Street sold in December 2013 for 815,000 shekels; and another apartment, also on the third floor out of four and only 500 feet away — but smaller at 890 square feet and in a newer building — sold for 1.4 million shekels.
7. A 10-year-older building brought the price way down in Yavneh
The price of an apartment in Yavneh averages 11,200 shekels per square meter — but the 915-square-foot apartment in the Neot Eshkol neighborhood sold for much less in April 2013. Four months later, an apartment only 300 feet away sold at full price. So what was the difference between them, not the size: The more expensive one was in a newer building.
8. A bargain in Bat Yam
In the Ramat Hanasi neighborhood of Bat Yam, a 710-square-foot apartment on the first floor of a four-story building built in 1970 sold in October 2013 for about 620,000 shekels. An apartment close by went for twice the price, 1.24 million shekels, some 16,533 shekels per square meter — though it was slightly bigger at 810 square feet. The average price for three room apartments in Bat Yam: 949,000 shekels.
9. Hard work pays off — sometimes: Four rooms for 850,000 shekels in Rishon Letzion
Rishon Letzion had turned into one of the most popular destinations for young couples over the past decade, until it became too expensive for many. The average price for a four-room apartment has long passed the 1-million-shekel level, reaching 1.37 million shekels, or 15,200 shekels per square meter. A relatively small 259-square-foot apartment in the Rambam neighborhood of the city was sold in June 2013 at the attractive price of 850,000 shekels even for this somewhat less desirable neighborhood. It is on the third floor of four. A bit of hard work searching for a good deal pays off sometimes.
10. A small apartment in an expensive neighborhood
Buying an apartment in the center of Herzliya is a dream for many families, but the middle class has long been pushed out of this market with average prices reaching almost 2 million shekels for an apartment. A small two-room apartment on the fourth floor of a building from 1972 is a good example of the few deals left.