Affordable Home Locator Launched in Israel
The critical shortage of affordable housing in Israel is a situation mirrored across the world with upward price movement surging, driven by investor-demand for real estate.
Now, Israel has a brand new property portal that searches for property based upon price, providing users with access to the limited supply of homes they can afford, in an area of their choosing. CTWiz is the brainchild of CEO Tom Shaked, who found himself on a mission to find true value in Israel's vastly inflated property market.
Shaked believes there is just one simple question that buyers have: "That question is… is the deal worth it? That is the question we answer with our new site," he said.
The portal provides search results to its users based on one criterion – price. The site's users can decide how much they want to spend on a home in rental or mortgage payments and which area they wish to live in. Search results are then displayed in accordance with the users' budgetary requirements and details any rental units or other features a property may have that can improve its affordability.
But, while users simply search by location and the amount they can afford, the technology behind the portal goes much further than simply filtering by price. The portal is based on a deep-dive, big data algorithm that aims to determine a property's true value. Where other price engines evaluate deals in an area of a prospective sale to see if prices are 'reasonable' on a comparable basis, CTWiz operates differently: "We examine the price of homes by average price per meter and other sales factors and then decide if the price being asked is a good one or not. Altogether the tools and technology we offer can enable potential buyers to find properties they can consider good deals and we are constantly adding features".
Property prices in Israel have increased 67%
Since 2008 property prices in Israel have increased 67%, a figure that is even higher in popular cities in the tiny country, making home ownership an impossible dream for most Israelis.
For example, the price of a home in the bustling northern city of Haifa averaged at ?135,000 in 2008 and has risen to more than ?255,000 in 2015, representing a staggering 91% increase according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics. Property prices in Tel Aviv - the country's second most populous city after its capital, Jerusalem - also shot up 84% to an average of almost ?460,000 over the same period, reflecting the surge in demand for Israeli property since the global recession.
Israel has experienced a significant influx of Jewish immigrants, increasing more than 40% in the first three months of 2015, according to a report by The Guardian newspaper. In 2014, the largest source of immigration to Israel for the first time was France, with 7,000 leaving after the Paris attacks amid fears of rising anti-Semitism in Europe.
Shaked's new portal was born of the severe housing shortage and subsequent spiralling prices in the Israeli real estate market and was officially launched in July, with thousands of searches handled since. Currently in Hebrew and English with French being introduced in the next few months, the portal comes at precisely a time when Jewish immigration is at its peak.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon rolled out measures to cool Israel's housing market in June this year, with the hope of driving out big-time investors and getting more middle-class Israelis into their own homes. Housing affordability issues have plagued Israel's government over the last two years and reducing skyrocketing property prices was the cornerstone of Kahlon's 2015 election campaign, resulting in a high expectancy for reform and improvement in the housing market.
The measures, which went into effect in July include dramatically increased taxes for second property purchases. Properties to the value of ?1.1m carry an 8% tax, while all properties of a higher price now get hit with 10% tax, a significant deterrent for wealthier buyers of multiple properties and with potential to suppress upward price movement across the country.
Meanwhile, CTWiz's increasing popularity among those searching for homes in Israel seems set to continue in the absence of any other website with its unique approach. "There is no other site today that can record customer assets and clarify whether a proposed real estate transaction is a good deal, especially when you factor in all the parameters of the property: location, size, price and more," said Shaked.
"We enable buyers to get an objective picture, the first of its kind on the property and not one that is influenced by the salesmanship of a seller or agent. The uniqueness of CTWiz is our ability to analyse the market and enable the average buyer to use the most advanced tools used today in analysing assets and understand the most important thing in a proposed deal – whether it is a good one or not."