Israeli home purchases marked a sharp decline in April 2014, and the trend appears to have continued into May, a Finance Ministry report released on Tuesday indicated.
The ministry’s monthly report reviewing key economic indicators found that home purchasing figures for May were the lowest recorded for that month since 2003.
April saw a 25 percent drop in the number of home sales, although that was at least in part due to the week-long Passover holiday that fell during the month.
For the first quarter of 2014 there were 26,000 home purchases, a 21% decrease compared to the last quarter of 2013.
The Treasury attributed the overall slump, however, to a wait-and-see attitude by buyers amid plans by the government to reduce the cost housing costs, including wavering the 18% purchase tax for couples purchasing their first home, Army Radio reported.
Earlier this month, the ministerial housing committee approved a bill which would grant a tax exemption to Israelis buying their first apartment.
If the bill passes, starting in September 2014, those who meet the criteria will be entitled to purchase their new homes without paying the 18 percent value-added tax, a move which would significantly reduce housing costs for young Israelis.
The bill will now head to the Knesset floor for a first reading.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid has said reducing apartment prices is a national objective and that the zero tax on new apartments move would help middle-class young couples purchase homes in the short term.