The Ministry of Construction and Housing has started notifying 10,053 winners in the first lottery held under the discounted “Target Price” apartment scheme known as Mehir Matara. By Monday evening, lottery entrants were also able to check their status online to see if they have been successful.
The apartments currently allocated are set to be built in 31 separate cities or towns across the country including Acre, Dimona, Ofakim, Beer Ya’akov, Eilat, Ashdod, Haifa, Jerusalem, and Rishon Lezion.
Those who have been successful will be able to buy the newly built apartments at below-market prices of 20 percent, or up to NIS 300,000 ($93,700) off the purchase price, with some additional incentives in certain areas. The discounts can be worth hundreds of thousands of shekels and are designed to reduce the amount that would-be buyers need to find to fund a deposit and to borrow as a mortgage.
The program says the process is entirely computerized to ensure its selection of winners is entirely random.
This first part of the program saw huge demand, attracting 119,207 participants. The deadline for applications was extended by a week to give more time to people to register because levels of interest were so high.
The Mehir Matara scheme has, this year, replaced the Mehir Lamishtaken (Buyers’ Price) program that ran from 2015. It too was aimed at helping first-time buyers attain homeownership, but tried to incentivize lower-cost properties by putting forward discounted land for development outside central Israel.
Construction and Housing Minister Zeev Elkin said in announcing the close of the first lottery, “More than 10,000 families who have won this time will be able to realize their dream of an apartment. And for anyone who has not won, this is just the beginning. We at the Ministry of Construction and Housing will continue to work for young couples and produce decent housing solutions at a significant discount at the expense of the state.”
Registration for the next lottery will begin in June, and the government says that it is aiming to market 20,000 more homes in this way by the end of the year.
Target Price, like programs before it, is aimed at making homeownership more accessible in a housing market that is seeing spiraling costs amid sky-high demand and inadequate supply.
Housing prices were up 15% in January and February 2022 compared to the same period last year, marking a sharp 12-month climb, according to an April report by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Overall prices have been rising by 1.2% on average each month since February 2021, the data showed.
Israeli governments have long promised to lower housing prices, which have climbed for over a decade. The sky-high costs have put homeownership out of the reach of many Israelis, weakening the middle class.
In October, the government unveiled a major housing plan for 2022-2025, aimed at rapidly increasing the supply of apartments in the hopes of reducing prices.
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman had said in December that housing prices would “moderate” by the end of 2022 and that he believes Israelis may even see prices drop in the coming years.
Adina Cooper and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.