My dunam in Israel…

by Maskil on 16 Oct 2007

A couple of comments regarding this recent Globes online article concerning the latest wave of real estate purchases in Israel by Diaspora Jews.

  • Firstly, I have no problem in principle with the idea. Heck, if I had the resources, I’d be joining the trend. (Correction, I would have joined the trend several decades ago.)
  • Secondly, I would think that there needs to be some form of government policy or regulations regarding land purchases by non-residents. Not just to create another bloated bureaucratic apparatus, but to protect the interests of residents, who may find availability and pricing increasingly pushing the prospect of home ownership out of reach, especially for first-time buyers. One suggestion would be to limit purchases by nom-residents to new developments, leaving existing housing stock for residents. I know that there are also concerns regarding areas primarily owned by non-residents becoming ghost-towns.
  • Lastly, the trend of buying and holding large tracts of agricultural land is a concern. While agriculture in Israel is perceived to be on the wane, a host of factors will eventually restore farming to its true place in the economy and mind-share of the country. In the meantime, land zoned as agricultural needs to be held in trust for the Jewish people, in some form of agricultural or rural reserve. Developers should be persuaded to “back-fill” within the boundaries of existing urban and metropolitan areas.

Israel, at the beginning of the 21st century, is witnessing the resurgence of a trend from the distant past – the buying of agricultural land in outlying regions. Prices of such land are substantially lower than building land, so purchases like these are usually large. The aim is to buy up stretches of land that will be rezoned in the future. In any event, the passage of time, coupled with the latest decisions on agricultural land rights, and the levies and taxes that buyers have to pay for such an upgrade, make any such deal virtually devoid of any economic benefit. Lawyers from the realty sector who are familiar with the trend and who act for foreigners involved in real estate deals, told “Globes” what sort of properties Diaspora Jews are now shopping for. Price, so it would seem, is not the only factor at play.

The Zionist factor – Jews are buying land in Israel for ideological as well as financial reasons.

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