What is Israel’s government discounted housing program?
Buying an apartment today in Israel can be a challenge, especially for young couples who are just starting out in life. One of the opportunities for these couples is to apply for one of the national reduced housing program lotteries. A “Discount apartment” is intended mainly for the homeless, but is also for people improving their housing. The standard reduction for being awarded as a winner in the lottery is 20% off the cost of purchase, up to 300,000 NIS ( and now a new rule will increase this to even 600,000 NIS in some cases). In the periphery areas like in the South of Israel, the government can give an additional 40,000 NIS.
Who is eligible to apply for discounted housing?
- Those who do not and did not own an apartment or part of an apartment (more than a third of an apartment, cumulatively) in an apartment in the last 3 years,
- Those who have not rented an apartment to which the tenant protection law applies (key fees) in the last 3 years,
- Those who do not have rights in the apartment through a purchasing group or group of buyers.
The discount is not available to everyone who qualifies for the program. To receive the discount you must enter and win a lottery. Unfortunately, these lotteries are not done on a regular basis, so when you hear one announced on the national news, you must move fast to apply. Information about past lotteries that were once available can be seen at this Project List at one of the main governmental sites.
Benefiting from reduced price apartments
Not everyone uses this program to buy their primary long-term residence. Some people apply for a lottery even in areas of Israel where they may not want to live. They hope to win but plan either to hold the property and rent it out or to sell the property in the future for a profit. For example, I met someone in Ramat Beit Shemesh who won a lottery. He estimated that in two years, when the apartment is finished, it will have increased its worth by a million NIS. An important general guideline to keep in mind: Buyers of an apartment in the program are not allowed to sell it for 5 years from receiving the Tofus Arba (official ownership document) or 7 years from the date of the lottery in which they won (whichever comes first).
Good luck for those who plan to apply in the future. Remember, it is important to carefully read the rules and eligibility requirements before applying. You can read more about the lottery program here: Lottery. The official government site has a good Q & A section, but it has not yet been translated to English. You can find out about upcoming changes that will affect future opportunities here: Campaign Expansion.