Housing sales plummet amid coronavirus economic crisis

The economic impact of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak has battered the housing market, which has seen purchases plummet to their lowest levels in nearly two decades, according to a Finance Ministry report released Sunday.

There were 16,800 apartments bought during the second quarter of the year, a drop of 27 percent compared to the same quarter in 2019.

The number of sales has not been so low since 2003, when violence from the Palestinian Second Intifada decimated the economy.

Compared to the first quarter of the year, which mostly escaped the influence of the virus outbreak, sales dropped by 25%.

The downturn was most keenly felt in the center of the country, with Tel Aviv seeing a 33.6% drop in the volume of purchases and reaching its lowest level since tracking began in the early 2000s.

During the Second Intifada, purchases in Tel Aviv dropped by 14%.

High-end locations have suffered worse than outlying areas, figures showed, and the southern city of Beersheba even saw a slight rise in purchases of 2.7% compared to the same quarter last year.

Apartments purchased by young couples are at a low, with just 7,300 bought in the last quarter.

Government-subsidized purchases are also at their lowest level since 2011, with just 19,500 apartments bought. Treasury officials assessed that a subsidized housing lottery program kept the figure from being even lower.

Meanwhile, the Employment Service announced on Sunday that over 200,000 people have been added to the unemployment rolls since last month’s Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah, when a nationwide lockdown was instituted to curb rampant infection rates in the face of a second wave of the virus.

There were 207,191 new jobseekers registered since September 17, of whom 186,958 were furloughed, or placed on unpaid leave. Of those, 151,436 were registering as unemployed for the second or more time since the start of the spread of the virus in Israel in March.

As of Sunday, 936,712 Israelis were unemployed in total — almost a quarter of the workforce, which numbers some 4 million — including 595,667 who were furloughed.

There are 65,063 active virus patients in Israel according to figures from the Health Ministry released Monday morning. Of those, 878 were in serious condition with 215 on ventilators. Since the start of the outbreak 268,175 people in Israel have been diagnosed with COVID-19. There have been 1,719 deaths.

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Written by Aakash Malu


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