Second housing lottery closes, again massively oversubscribed

Around 112,000 households register to win the chance to buy 5,499 discounted apartments nationwide

View of the construction site for a new building, in Jerusalem, August 31, 2021. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
View of the construction site for a new building, in Jerusalem, August 31, 2021. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The draws for the second housing lottery under the “Mehir Matara” (Target Price) program will take place this week, with 5,499 discounted apartments available and around 112,000 households registered for the chance to buy them. Applications opened at the beginning of July and closed last week.

Over the coming days, the lucky few will be selected for a discounted apartment, available for purchase below market value, in one of 25 locations across the country, including Eilat, Elad, Ashdod, Beit Shemesh, Deir Hanna, Haifa, Jerusalem, and Sderot.

A win means a smaller down payment, and a smaller mortgage, opening up home ownership to those with lower savings and smaller incomes.

The process is entirely computerized and carried out in a closed room. Those who have been successful will find out at the beginning of August. Registration for a third round of the lottery scheme is set to open in October.

Aviad Friedman, director-general of the Housing Ministry, promises that with 10,000 apartments in the first scheme earlier this year, and another 5,500 this time around, “by the end of the year at least 15,000 more households will join them.”

Outgoing Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin went further and said that “by the end of next year, 75,000 eligible families participating in the lotteries will receive apartments through the scheme.”

Jacob Quint, director of the Israel Land Authority, suggested that “this year the results [the number of discounted homes available on the market] are about 20% higher compared to 2021. We will continue to work to increase the supply.”

But as Jerusalem’s Hebrew news site Kolhair noted, despite the proclaimed success of the Mehir Matara program, given the numbers subscribing, the chances of winning are extremely slim — less than one percent according to their calculations of 24,483 bidders for 213 discounted apartments in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is not even the most popular location for registration for this latest lottery. Top of the list is Ramat Gan, where 47,675 households registered for 349 apartments, followed by Rosh Ha’Ayin (42,100 households for 439 apartments), Netanya (slightly better odds with 27,140 registrations for 888 apartments) and Ashkelon (25,732 households competing for 398 housing units).

It is recognized that the Mehir Matara scheme is opening up home ownership to a lucky few first-time buyers. But the number of households applying for each lottery reflect the extent to which full market prices are now out of reach for so many.

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