Forecasts of a large wave of immigration from France pushing up Israeli apartment prices might be materializing. Data published yesterday by the Ministry of Finance showed a sharp rise in home purchases by investors in January and cited Netanya as a city where many French Jews are buying homes, in the wake of January's terror attacks in Paris.
Adv. Elior Asherian, a partner in the Rothschild Lev Asherian Law Firm, is familiar with the foreign residents flocking to buy Israeli real estate and knows exactly what they are looking for.
Asherian, who is well acquainted with the Netanya market, and has undertaken conveyancing over the years for many French Jews buying property in the city, talks of a dramatic change following the terrorist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris.
He said, "Following the escalation in the security situation in France, many French Jews who bought apartments in Israel as a vacation home are now seriously considering immigrating to Israel. As a result they are even selling their businesses in France and coming here with a lot of money. I personally represent clients who are businesspeople - one has a supermarket chain, another is a work contractor and so on. There are people who have shut down their business in France and come to Israel. They are buying apartments for investment and renting them out, or homes in need of renovation, improving them and then selling, thus making a relatively quick profit.
Asherian added, "We've recently notice additional investments following the terror attacks in Paris. They've begun buying businesses here. The day after the terror attack we began getting calls from French Jews that wanted to buy businesses here."
What sort of businesses are they interested in?
"Clients that came to me were very interested in food, mainly fast food - hamburgers, pizzas, as well as cafes and patisseries. They're bringing the knowhow here from Paris in the field of baking and food and that gives them a relative advantage over Israeli businesses."
How many homebuyers are we talking about in total?
There are many French Jews in Netanya. In my opinion more than 1,000 French Jews have come to Israel since the Paris attacks. French Jews themselves are talking about another 5,000-6,000 French Jews preparing to immigrate to Israel.
Are we only talking about French Jews or also Jews from other European countries?
"In the main the foreign investors buying real estate here are French but there is also a small number of others, for example from London. We are talking about very well-heeled people. One of my clients is a very wealthy London Jew who is promoting an urban renewal deal here."
French Jews have been buying apartments here for years. What's special now?
"Now it has been forced on them. It's not that Israel's is a valuable real estate pearl. Real estate prices here are relatively high and it's difficult to get high returns. But the security situation there in Paris has caused some French Jews to make this step."
What apartments are they buying and where?
"The French very much like the sea. More than 70% of my French clients like a sea view. They buy apartments with a sea view and the wealthier ones buy a house as close as possible to the sea. Even those that come from lower socio-economic backgrounds buy apartments in good areas."
How much are they investing here in real estate? What is the average price of a deal?
"A house and garden very close to the seafront on a 600-sq.m. lot worth about NIS 7 million just for the land. That is for those French people with money. The less wealthy French Jews are buying apartments for NIS 2-2.5 million."
"Until the recent Paris attacks many French Jews bought apartments and left them empty and came here in July and August. After the attacks they are buying them for themselves and immigrating to Israel, and those who have bought apartments are buying more as an investment."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 9, 2015
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015