With over 350,000 English-speaking olim already living in Israel and nearly 3,500 more due to make aliyah during 2014, real estate developers are actively trying to lure American immigrants and investors to their projects in cities such as Netanya, Tel Aviv and Modi’in, which exemplify Anglo cultural, educational and religious expectations while also providing a superior standard of residential living.
According to the latest statistics, local and foreign investors (including Anglos) have played a vital role in fueling Israel’s highly active property market. The Israeli government’s Association of Real Estate Appraisers reported that prices for homes and apartments in the metro Tel Aviv-Jaffa- Herzliya region, where there is a significant Anglo population, rose nearly 10 percent during the past year alone.
The nationwide survey also claimed that cities such as Netanya, Tel Aviv and Modi’in, as well as Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, have attracted well over one billion dollars in investments from buyers in the U.S., Canada, UK and France during the past five years.
It’s no secret that Netanya has become a magnet for a substantial number of young Anglo families, vacationers and investors who have bought flats in a wide variety of projects that are either adjacent to or in close proximity to the city’s alluring Mediterranean beachfront.
Netanya’s popular mayor, Miriam Feirberg -Ikar, has worked tirelessly to develop the infrastructure in and around the beachfront promenade area in order to lure English-speaking olim, pensioners and vacationers to her city.
“Anglo buyers who come to Netanya are always searching for a project that offers them a high quality of life, close proximity to the sea, laid-back atmosphere and easy access to, business centers, cultural activities and shopping in central Israel, “ claimed one real estate developer.
One of these projects is being constructed by the Yossi Avrahami Civil Engineering Works in the up-and-coming Agamim (Lakes) neighborhood. The Yossi Avrahami B’Agamim complex consists of two towers which overlook the Mediterranean Sea, a nature reserve with a park and a lake.
The project also highlights modern contemporary architectural design accentuated by a fancy lobby, large balconies, attractive gardening, posh elevators, gym and residents’ lounge. Buyers can select from an array of impressive flats ranging from garden apartments to breathtaking penthouses. The company also situates their residential dwellings easily accessible to community services, including schools, entertainment, shopping and sports centers, all of which are integral to a high quality of life.
Trendy Tel Aviv
The metro Tel Aviv region has begun to attract more and more young couples and families, who have bought into the “work and play” lifestyle that the area has to offer. Being in close proximity to Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan’s various commercial centers by day and the region’s myriad of cultural attractions and seaside activities including the beachfront promenade and the Port of Tel Aviv in the evening, has thus provided developers with a unique opportunity to attract high-end Anglo buyers.
According to the Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah organization, between 2009 and 2013 more than 2,000 new immigrants from North America and the UK moved to the metro Tel Aviv area. At least 400 more are due to make the move during 2014.
During the past five years savvy real estate developers have built a number of upscale residential living complexes in Jaffa, Neve Tzedek (South Tel Aviv), North Tel Aviv and along the beachfront, which have targeted foreign investors, vacationers and new immigrants. The marketing success of these projects and the release of other high-end parcels of land stretching from the lucrative beachfront, along posh Rothschild Boulevard (which has been favorably compared to Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue), to center city (near the bustling Azrieli Mall and rail hub) and ritzy North Tel Aviv, has spurred a construction boom, with a growing number of builders actively looking to lure wealthy buyers, investors and vacationers from the USA.
Matthew Bortnick, a well-known real estate broker in metro Tel Aviv revealed, “It makes no difference whether they are buyers, investors, olim or vacationers looking for apartments — everyone is asking for high-quality apartments and homes. Israeli standards for the most part have not yet reached Western building standards, but some builders in Tel Aviv have identified this wealthy market and have started to erect quality projects. They realize that the foreign buyers are not only demanding it [quality], they are also willing to pay for it. Now they understand that Americans for example are used to these standards, because that’s where they are coming from.”
Yigal Zemach, the CEO of Beggruen Residential Ltd., which is putting the finishing touches on its spectacular 42-storey “Meier-on-Rothschild” tower in the heart of Tel Aviv, concurred. “Anglo buyers do their homework. They are extremely diligent in searching for top quality in the Tel Aviv marketplace and are concerned about dealing with the Israeli mentality,” said Zemach. “Buyers are looking for Manhattan-style quality because that is what they are accustomed to and what they would actually pay for if they moved into a new apartment in Manhattan. Upscale Anglos are not interested in lame excuses when it comes to construction, design or location. In this respect, Tel Aviv has much to offer because many people compare the city to Manhattan because it is the hub of business and culture. Tel Aviv has the best museums, coffee bars and restaurants.”
Zemach also claimed that even though his luxurious Meier-on-Rothschild project is considered to be the crème de la crème of elite properties, prices for an apartment are still cheaper than what one would pay in Manhattan or even Toronto.
Zemach, who lived for a number of years in Manhattan, added, “These days real estate prices in Manhattan run anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 per square foot, while in Tel Aviv, we are seeing prices between $1,500 and $3,000 per square foot, less than half what one would pay in Manhattan. And the prices per square foot in Montreal, London and Vancouver are just as expensive as New York City.”
Yossi Avrahami Civil Engineering Works is currently marketing two posh projects in the Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan region.
During the past few years, the company has garnered kudos from architects and buyers alike for it’s outstanding Ne’eman Towers residential complex in North Tel Aviv. The unique towers were designed by world renowned kinetic artist Yaacov Agam. The seventh and final building in the project is now being completed and marketed to potential Anglo buyers.
“We know from personal experiences with our Anglo buyers what they are looking for in terms of top standards based on physical comforts as well as the personal and psychological attachment to their community,” said Yossi Avrahami, the owner and chairman of the company.
“Therefore, it is important for us to provide all of their needs from A to Z on a personal level. Based on experience, Anglo buyers seek amenities such as access to a pool, sauna and community synagogue, which for many families provides a warm and inviting environment in which to meet and make new friends, as well as celebrate Shabbat and the holidays in style.”
Neeman Towers has been built as a closed complex with a chic and elegant air-conditioned lobby that is manned 24 hours a day, a stylish and attractively lit garden with benches and walking paths, a residents’ lounge and chic elevators, all efficiently run by a professional management company.
Yossi Avrahami’s Ramat Gan project is part of an urban renewal process. The impressive building is located on a quiet street across from the pastoral Napoleon Hill and near the beautiful Yarkon Park. The project is located amidst a green spot in the heart of the metropolis that combines easy access to major thoroughfares including Abba Hillel Silver Street in Ramat Gan and the Ayalon Highway, as well as business and entertainment centers including the Diamond Exchange and bustling Ayalon Mall. The meticulous planning emphasizes comfort and high quality technical and engineering specifications.
This “city in the suburbs” is a classic example of how positive feedback from an initial group of English-speaking buyers who discovered the newly built city less than a decade ago, created a non-stop real estate market for prospective buyers. Word-of-mouth about Modi’in’s high standard, suburban lifestyle, superior educational centers and easy transportation access to nearby Jerusalem and Tel Aviv attracted large numbers of young Anglo families, and most recently, retirees, who wish to be near their children and grandchildren. Modi’in, the birthplace of the Chanukah story, has been dubbed “the new Ra’anana.” Ra’anana was originally founded by American pioneers from the metro New York region.
Large concentrations of new olim from the metro New York-New Jersey region can be found in the Buchman and Kaiser neighborhoods. The influx of Americans into Modi’in has also benefitted the city’s fledgling Little League baseball program. The Modi’in Miracles play in the Israel Association of Baseball. ◆