Israeli Housing Sales Peak in May

Over 9,000 homes sold in briskest month in over a year.

The pace of real estate sales jumped sharply in May, a Finance Ministry survey released Thursday shows. The May figures represented a 48% increase over April's sales, and a 17% increase compared to sales in May, 2011.

The more brisk level of sales activity was in large part the result of the more than 50% rise in the number of second-hand homes sold in May of this year compared to the same month in 2011.

The price of new homes declined slightly in May, by 0.6% compared to April, with the largest price declines occurring in the Jerusalem area, aided by price decreases (and sales increases ) in one particular project just outside Jerusalem. In the central region, which excludes Tel Aviv itself, new housing prices rose on average by 0.4%, while in the Sharon region, prices dropped by 0.5%.

About 9,400 housing units, new and previously-owned, were sold this May, the largest single monthly total since March 2011. Preliminary figures for June 2012 show a slower sales pace than May's figures but still higher than June 2011. The number of home sales in May in the Tiberias area was 130% higher than the same month last year, due to a major increase in the purchase of homes in the region by young couples. Among other brisk markets were the Jerusalem area and the Shefelah lowlands region, with 20% increases.

Young couples accounted for much of the increase in home sales in the Jerusalem region, while in the Shefelah sales were boosted by young couples, investors and buyers upgrading their homes. The Tel Aviv and Haifa regions experienced just an 8% increase in May sales compared to the same month last year.

The number of purchasers who have bought a better home but not yet unloaded their previous home, remained stable in May -- except in Tel Aviv, where there was an increase. This is seen as an indication that greater numbers of such buyers in Tel Aviv are confident that they can sell their home.