Latest housing lottery hits close to 1 million entries for 6,500 discounted homes

Newest round massively oversubscribed, underscoring overheated housing market, difficulty for first-time buyers

New construction of residential apartments in Ashkelon, January 19, 2019. (chert61 via iStock by Getty Images)
New construction of residential apartments in Ashkelon, January 19, 2019. (chert61 via iStock by Getty Images)

The fourth round of the previous government’s housing lottery program for first-time buyers known as Mehir Matara, or “Target Price,” generated close to a million entries from 90,000 households hoping to win the chance to pay about 20 percent below market value for some 6,500 future homes raffled across the country.

Under the program, launched in 2022, eligible households can participate in lotteries for multiple locations, and for multiple projects within those locations.

The huge demand for reduced-price apartments comes as housing prices went up a record 20.3% in 2022 compared to 2021. These figures include both sales in the open market and subsidized government schemes. Over the same time period, wages have risen by a little over 4%.

The Construction and Housing Ministry said Monday that the lottery winners for this round will be announced over the coming weeks and that there would soon be another lottery.

This latest round was the ministry’s final housing lottery for 2022, over the course of which it sought to raffle off about 30,000 discounted dwellings in dozens of locations around the country.

In this round, 6,500 apartments were on offer in 13 locations including Jerusalem, Ashdod, Haifa, Ramle, Sderot and Nahariya, and the West Bank settlements of Elkana, Karnei Shomron and Emanuel. The ministry said the most popular locations, by bids, were Ashdod — with over 43,000 registrations for 428 apartments — followed by Yehud, with over 35,000 applications for 370 apartments.

Previous lotteries were also heavily oversubscribed, with some 100,000 participants for each of the previous rounds in March, July and October 2022. The ministry said about 28,000 participants were selected in those rounds in total.

Participants in the Target Price program require a NIS 240 ($75) eligibility certificate from the Construction and Housing Ministry and households then register for the chance to “win” the opportunity to buy a discounted apartment. The pre-registration process for the next lottery round opened this week as well

The lottery draw is carried out under strict conditions and is entirely computerized, with no human intervention, according to the ministry.

New Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf, of United Torah Judaism, has yet to set out his ideas for solving the housing crisis though he previously questioned whether there was no housing crisis.

But in announcing the high demand for the lottery program, he said: “It is our moral duty to all citizens of Israel to facilitate the purchase of apartments for young couples.” He said he would prioritize the work to build the 6,500 homes raffled in the program, a process that can take several years.

Yehuda Morgenstern, the director-general of the ministry, said the level of oversubscription for each lottery round reflects a demand for affordable housing that the market is currently failing to meet and that work was underway to develop further measures that would address housing needs in 2023.

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