The European Union: Real Estate and Demography

Saturday, 25 May 2019 - 09:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Architecture, Editorial, European Union, Living, Working, Building

(Latest update: 14 October 2019) First, there is not THE real estate market – not national and certainly not international. In fact, the market situation is very fragmented due to the general conditions, in other words, many individual markets, collectively referred to as “the market”. Metropolitan Area A faces different challenges than Metropolitan Area B and Metropolitan Area C can not even understand what A and B are talking about. Where there is comparability, is the housing situation in the “affordable segment” in urban centers in all western EU states, the US and Canada. This is where the call for the state, which should intervene regulatively, quickly becomes louder. In free market economies, however, this is on the one hand not wanted and therefore on the other hand, only limited possible. That’s pretty okay, because the market is inherently profit-oriented and that’s just what it will stay, otherwise investment incentives for new construction would sooner or later be completely absent. The “rental price brake” (Mietpreisbremse) exemplifies the problem. At the same time, more and more social housing is being let out of the rental price brake without replacement investment being made. In the following, single aspects are examined in more detail using the example of Germany, whereby the scenarios can also be transferred to other western EU states, the USA, Canada, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong or Tel Aviv in Israel.



Content


Demography
Since the early 1990s, it has been assumed that the population development would be negative, or would be declining. Numerous studies have supported this assumption. This resulted in a decades-long housing shortage (dismantling of living space and neglect of new building measures, but also the sale and privatization of subsidized_housing and land for short-term coverage of budget deficits of public budgets, with the result that neither public debt could be noticeably reduced, nor sufficient public land remains available, to develop affordable housing, so that in case of doubt land now has to be bought at a high free market prices (in retrospect not the smartest of all ideas to cleanse the clammy households, but of course, everyone is smarter afterwards. Here, however, to presume bad intention in general is wrong, because the sales were made in the 2000s, when Germany was “the sick man of Europe”, so in fact urgently needed money. In such phases, all options are on the table and in case of doubt even jewels will be thrown on the market. The fact that the large sale of public real estate and property was a mistake is widely acknowledged in the political landscape and ways are sought to undo the resulting distortions in the housing market. It will take a few years of time, a lot of money and work, but solutions are already emerging). Even before the so-called “refugee crisis” between the end of 2015 and the end of 2017, it became clear that the demographic trend is fortunately different and that instead population growth is now assumed (Die Zeit, 18 July 2019: Demographics in Europe: The Commuter Belt Effect). In addition to the numerous positive aspects (economic development, employment numbers, etc.), however, this has the negative aspect of housing shortages and significantly rising rental and purchase prices. Due to the largely sold-off public land, municipalities and private investors alike are now facing the problem of having hardly any land available for affordable housing, so that with the help of decrees and laws, the private-sector needed to be forced to include a proportionate part of affordable housing in new building projects. However, it is not only the changes in the population development that lead to the (rental/purchase) cost increases, but also the changed demands on living space (sizes, equipment, standards, building regulations, environmental protection etc.) and changed lifestyles (increase in single households, etc.): Die Zeit, 18 July 2019: Demographics in Europe: The Commuter Belt Effect, Demographics of the European Union.


Urban planning
In general, German cities have well thought-through and permeable urban development concepts (urban development planning, integrated urban development concept and smart city) for the middle and upper segments that can be regulated by the market. At the lower end, however, the market regulates very little (including prices for land – simplified building code, simplified building permit procedures, housing subsidies and rental prices), so that the existing urban development concepts here often correspond more to request concerts, as with the actual circumstances on site.


Demand
Based on the above mentions and additional aspects, there are demands that are only partially met. While demand in the upper and luxury segments is increasingly being covered (where there are exceptions due to the Brexit which i.a. leading investment bankers to relocate from the City of London to Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin and Madrid in order to continue to have full access to the EU Single Market, and hence the need for new housing remains clear), this is not the case in the middle and lower segments. In addition to the resulting social explosives, the actual situation also offers considerable opportunities. When there is no more money to earn in the upper segment on the big scale, then in the middle and lower segment all the more. The idea, however, has not yet prevailed everywhere. In Germany, between 450,000 and 500,000 new units will have to be built each year to meet demand and/or make replacement investments. In fact, half the needed numbers are built at best. So it’s not as if it would not be built at all, just so far not to the extent necessary and where the new construction measures are actually needed.


Income gap
The income gap ensures that the middle class increasingly breaks away. Instead there are more rich and more poor people. Here’s another reason for the pressure on the housing market, especially as it increases the concentration on the upper and lower segments and, if in doubt, investors choose the more profitable segment. In the everyday life of the real estate industry, this is also noticeable. Buyers/Tenants, who were able to afford flats and houses in fairly appealing locations at reasonable prices 20 years ago, can no longer do so today or only with great effort and economic burdens, which are compensated elsewhere (consumption, mobility etc.). The promises of the trickle-down theory are obviously only partially working (especially where it is about pure capital gain) and not only increase the pressure on the housing market, but have become a societal and macroeconomic problem, which, among other things, were publicly visible in the violent riots of the so-called yellow vests in France (vandalism and terrorism). The basic problem is of course also in Germany and other Western European countries detectable, but fortunately (still) without the appropriate joy in demonstrations and blind destructiveness. Here, entire population groups are excluded from the “normal” economic cycle and this leads macroeconomically to distortions, e.g. too high pressure on the lower level housing market. With the help of different tools, attempts have been made for years to counteract this, but with little success so far to date. An interesting approach would be to consider how it can be achieved to help people with a small income to own property, as part of a pension package, as was possible until 20 years ago.


Sale price developments
Purchase price developments in recent years let to the situation that young first-time buyers are being left behind because they can not afford property, which further increases the pressure on the rental market and rents, triggering a spiral that ultimately lead to the situation that first-time buyers will be hardly able to buy property in later years. In the meantime, foreign buyers and investors are increasingly holding back, because the initially moderate initial investment has grown so much that the expected returns are becoming less and less attractive. The ongoing period of low interest rates is causing speculators to drain additional profits and thus pulverize the interest rate advantage to the detriment of the buyers (asset owners see this with increasing joy, especially as they can raise their rents as well – effortless additional income). In the period between 2004 and 2019, real estate prices rose by more than 45% due to the low interest rates in the country, and in particular in the metropolitan areas, they rose even significantly higher. Another aspect was and is, of course, the location policy. Cities, where house prices have not risen steadily, saw and see themselves as possibly weak, as if only cities, where real estate prices are rising steadily, could and can expect to continue growing. Accordingly, living space was tightened, so that property ownership for investors remained interesting – with all the negative consequences. A logic and spiral that is difficult to break, because on the one hand, new housing must be created, on the other hand, it must also be ensured that property value is not weakened by new construction, so as not to jeopardize the “location factor” or follow-up financing will be necessary because the “top location” turns out to be less “top” in retrospect.


Price and cost drivers

The average values only partially reflect the actual dilemma in the large metropolitan areas. While the purchase and rental prices in the major metropolitan regions have risen much more than the average, they are even partially declining in rural areas in East Germany.

The average values only partially reflect the actual dilemma in the large metropolitan areas. While the purchase and rental prices in the major metropolitan regions have risen much more than the average, they are even partially declining in rural areas in East Germany.

It’s more common to hear that landlords, speculators, and brokers are driving up prices. That is not entirely incorrect, but it is an to easy excuse. In fact, there are many more “sensible” landlords than there are “cutthroats”. If that were not so, the real estate markets would be completely out of control. But that is at most partially so. However, it is not new to realize that real estate markets are not charity events and all market participants want to get their more or less justified share of the pie, with the majority of professional real estate investors and landlords recognizing that they also have a social responsibility (Responsibility, Social Competence, Values, Social Commitment). In this respect, nobody is interested in overheating the cost situation, especially in order to be able to achieve long-term (at best over several decades) and secure rental income. Both will only work if the right proportions are proven. Property investments are long-term investments that are usually refinanced over a period of 30 years. In order for this to all decades long, a rent must be calculated and demanded, which finances all cost factors (ongoing operating costs and taxes (local taxes, inheritance tax, wealth tax, etc.), capital service (consisting of interest and reducing loans), costs for maintenance, servicing, replacement investments, etc.), but also a reasonable share of profits (at this point, the scholars are arguing about what is to be understood as “reasonable” or at what point “unreasonable” starts) and taxes (public budgets earn from property transactions and rental income through various means, leaving the state with a considerable conflict of interest, for example property taxes make up a significant proportion of municipal revenues). In the same period, with rental and purchase prices rise up, construction costs have also risen by more than 35%. This is also due to inflation and the excellent capacity utilization of the construction industry, but above all the building regulations tightened over the years and environmental aspects. So-called “luxury refurbishments” also contribute to cost increases, but not to the extent that it is suggested in the press. Within the repair measures, landlords and private housing companies are also using the means of the modernization measures, which amounted to 11% per annum per year until 01.01.2019; since 01.01.2019 it is at 8% per annum and thus a special form of the rent increase measures, while the repair measures in principle are the durty of the landlords and housing companies, paid by rental income, this special one is covered by rent increase – legally by now. The Modernization Allocation is a tool for the implementation of a hefty rentaöl insomce, which even continues to run even if the cost of modernization has long been refinanced. The resulting conflict of interest is of course obvious and must therefore be regulated by the legislature (legislation) meaningful and without exception, because without this legal regulation is in the end once again the honest, rational and socially oriented landlord the stupid one. The whole cost issue starts at the beginning of the project development. Here you will find an overview of the services provided in order to get an impression of the expenses and risks that must be expected at this stage (construction planning and construction costs). According to the “wash me, but do not wet me” motto, not only large infrastructure projects do not work. Depending on the size of the project then another phenomenon is added, namely, let’s call it, the “9-eyed and 13-legged Schnuffel beetle”, which is guaranteed not to appear where it should – in fact it has never been appeared, but it does not prevent from tracking it. Of course, this has further consequences, especially with regard to the profitability of projects. As a developer of a project of “Affordable Housing”, the entire project is done as soon as initiatives of all kinds start to interfere and thus negatively affect project economics. Alternatively, you can now market the “5 * + – luxury residential resort in the best outskirts of the city and in the immediate vicinity of the Schnuffel beetle” at a rental price of 50.00 Euro/m²/netto. A rent that is needed to cover the nonsensical costs of environmental impact assessments, appraisals, court costs, upkeep costs (loss of use) and other additional expenses, while at the same time financing non-social income (asocial – just because something is legally enforceable does not make it morally reasonable) on the other side.

A remedy would be the substantial increase in assets of public housing companies that can calculate differently from private companies (private companies are created for profit, especially for joint-stock company that need to earn dividends on behalf of their shareholders), the increase in the attractiveness of peripheries and rural areas, but also the legal obligation to proportionately create affordable housing in private-sector construction in inner-city locations to an appropriate extent, supported by appropriate support measures, to permanently ensure social equalty. These include the actual four main considerations:

  • Simplified building regulations in order to lower the building standard of “affordable housing” as far that low rental fees can be asked for, while still be adequate – a prerequisite for investors to be interested in investing in this segment.
  • Modular design (modular construction and prefabricated building) is much better than its reputation.
  • Affordable housing does not have to win any design or architectural prizes, nor be ugly, but above all be functional, be low-maintenance and thus affordable.
  • One way to reduce the cost of creating affordable housing is e.g. the so-called cooperative model, an association of interested parties (laymen, craftsmen, architects, engineers etc.) for the purpose of the construction and use of a cooperative housing estate. From an economic point of view, this model is quite interesting, but stands and falls – as always – with the commitment of those involved.


Supply of land
The distribution of land for affordable housing project (public spaces) is currently not well organized. There are enough investors, but plots for affordable housing projects remain in short supply. As a result of outdated demographic assumptions, land and housing have been privatized over the years, resulting in a shortage of the property reserves that are urgently needed today. The market regulates little to nothing in this segment.


Confiscation measures
As a result, even absurd thoughts, such as the confiscation / expropriation of land and buildings come into the conversation, to extract speculators of just these and to make them available to the free market. Since our social model still corresponds to a free, social market economy, this would only be possible in individual cases, but can not be implemented in general. Moreover, this would have a significant deterrent effect on potential investors, who would eventually have to reckon with their arbitrary expropriation, so that the seizures would have exactly the opposite effects as originally planned. Two other aspects are that expropriation does not create a single new dwelling, but deprives dwellings of the private sector to hand them over to the public sector (“left pocket -> right pocket”). The entrepreneurial skills of the state are thereby well known. It may also be interesting to see how the expropriations at market prices will be accomplished and financed, when already a 3-digit billion public investment is missing (against this background, it would only make sense to take over private assets when they are heavily financed by loans and minimal equity, so that the transfer costs would be low and the public institutions can take over the loan obligations with extended terms). The most important aspect, the proposed permanent cap on social rent, will not work, because rents and additional costs will continue to increase unless new buildings are built to on a extended scale. Now it could be argued that expropriated housing companies will invest the compensation in new construction. While this is not completely excluded, it is much more likely that their shareholders will enjoy very substantial one-time dividend before the companies will leave the market/go out of operation. Expropriations would make sense when the federal republic, the states, large landowners and large corporations would be liberated from unused land so that they can be made available to the market. The ensuing “land flood” would have noticeable consequences. Especially if the licensing authorities would grant building permits instead of being influenced by “Start to build extensively, but not in my neighborhood” calls.


Urban densification
For immediate relief of inner-city locations different measures are favored, which can be applied in parallel. Particularly popular are the so-called secondary densifications, e.g. the closing of building gaps or the full utilization of the areal (GRZ) and floor area (GFZ) permitted by zoning plans by placing additional storeys on existing buildings (both residential, office and retail holdings) and perimeter block development. Some cities have larger areas in inner city locations to be reused, e.g. identify new neighborhoods with proportionate affordable housing. Privately owned, unused commercial land and the conversion of existing land are of course a possibility as well. The construction of taller buildings is also under discussion, although up to 50 meters in height can still be built at reasonably and acceptable cost, so affordable housing can also be provided here. High-rise buildings over 80 meters, on the other hand, are only suitable for the middle and upper segment. There are also mixed concepts, as they are already in London, the city with the absolute rent madness in Europe (even though real estate prices in the United Kingdom have already been weakened noticeably even before the actual implementation of Brexit), on the market. This include in the context of mixed costing e.g. transversely subsidized affordable housing. The medium and high-price apartments offered in the buildings ensure that some of the apartments (usually between 15% and 20%) can be offered as affordable apartments. Of course, the affordable apartments do not have the same sizes or standards as the other apartments. For some German cities too, such concepts would be an option, even though this approach has so far only been moderately successful, perhaps because the pressure of suffering does not yet extend to all segments.


Support measures
State support measures (construction costs, housing subsidies, rental price break, right of first refusal by city, state and federal government, broker commissions, taxation, etc.) can ultimately be only of short-term nature, otherwise they lead to market distortions (and are used by construction companies, landlords and investors to further increase rental and purchase prices, thereby undermining support measures for tenants and buyers) and beyond, don’t solve the core problem, but only cover it up. Added to this is the resulting increase in rents and purchase prices because landlords and sellers adjust rents and purchase prices accordingly. It would be more important to sustainably improve the income situation of the middle class. This not only because of the situation on the housing market, but also in terms of overall consumption and thus the strengthening of domestic demand, in order to reduce the vulnerabilities of external influences (export). With all the positive aspects of support measures, it should not be missed that speculators and other less socially oriented market participants are taking advantage of the situation for personal gain. Where government measures are to take effect, real estate prices suddenly rise to unprecedented heights. More recently, discussions have focused on the construction of satellite/commuter towns (housing complex) in the green field, even when it is clear since the 1980s that they come with a danger of “ghettoization” (e.g. the Bronx in New York City, Mümmelmannsberg in Hamburg or the banlieues in Paris) as a result of increased construction of social housing, so that healthy neighborhood developments through social mixing are prevented, which would have to be defused again and again with a large capital investment.


Expansion of public transport
An important element in relieving inner city locations would be the significant expansion of local public transport in order to strengthen the periphery and make it more attractive to live there. However, it must be taken into account that prices will rise there as well.


“Question of guilt”
An answer to the frequently asked “question of guilt” is hardly possible because it is spread over many shoulders. On municipalities and cities, large investors, private housing companies, individual investors, speculators (unused land and buildings), the building code, building standards and environmental protection and the resulting massive increase in construction costs in recent years, the various types of taxation from the acquisition, during the operation to the sale of a property, the long approval procedures, excessive rental/purchase price expectations, changed living concepts, the resulting space and equipment requirements and the tenant competition among each other. Each individual market participant and all influencing factors contribute to the overall situation. The “main culprit” does not exist, although especially on the part of the private market participants certainly attract particular attention in a negative way. In general, “the market” is not a one-way road, but a roundabout. The English saying “What goes around, comes around!” applies here as well, casually translated as “everything has consequences” or “action –> reaction”. The pivotal point is the provision of real estate at entry-level prices, which allows the realization of projects in the lower and middle segments in order to be able to respond to the pent-up demand on a large scale and across the board. Everything else could be done relatively easily and quickly. The federal government, states, cities and municipalities are therefore increasingly moving away from the best-price principle (highest bid and auction) in order to support the construction of affordable housing. The higher the share of this residential segment in the overall project, the lower the land price.


Invitation
At the same time this is an invitation: If you own an inner city property in a metropolitan area of a western EU state, the East Coast of the US, metropolitan areas of Canada, Dubai or Tel Aviv in a 2a or 2b location (public transport, local supply, schools, doctors, etc.) for the development of 10 units or more in the “affordable housing” segment (or mixed use) and want to sell it, please feel free to contact us. We are looking to expand our own assets. Please send your offer by mail to: info@wingsch.net. Of course, we are also looking forward to interesting offers from other segments as well.


Reading
France24, 2 June 2015: Low-income housing comes to luxury Paris neighbourhoods, The New York Times, 29 April 2016: In Rome, Cheap Public Housing Hid for Years in Plain Sight, BBC, 18 May 2016: The city with 20-year waiting lists for rental homes, The Local, 28 August 2017: The story of Sweden’s housing crisis, Bloomberg, 24 May 2018: Amsterdam Bets on Social Housing to Beat Soaring Prices, Bloomberg, 25 May 2018: Will London Ever Get Affordable Housing?, Bloomberg, 24 June 2018: Why China Can’t Fix Its Housing Bubble, Handelsblatt, 13 July 2018: No end in sight for Munich’s real-estate rush, Haaretz, 15 August 2018: Only the Wealthy Can Afford an Apartment in Tel Aviv — but Is That Such a Terrible Thing?, Handelsblatt, 30 August 2018: Hamburg fights housing crunch with cooperation, How To Buy In Spain, 30 August 2018: Madrid real estate prices are up 21%: Is this sustainable?, Handelsblatt, 30 August 2018: Six solutions to the German housing crisis, according to Berlin’s mayor, Handelsblatt, 30 August 2018: Germany aims to ease housing crisis, but measures may fall short, Handelsblatt, 21 September 2018: Germany’s soaring housing prices spark calls for reform, Architects Newspaper, 8 October 2018: BIG completes affordable housing complex in Copenhagen, DW, 26 October 2018: Sudden drop in Chinese property prices leaves speculators reeling, Frankfurt Expat, 5 November 2018: Brexit and its effects on real estate market in Frankfurt, Gulf News, 2 January 2019: Understanding Dubai’s housing demand and supply, Montreal Gazette, 11 January 2019: Real-estate price increase in Montreal tops Toronto, Vancouver, Globes, 16 January 2019: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv home prices down faster than national average, The Local, 18 January 2019: What’s wrong with the Italian property market?, Business Insider, 23 January 2019: Israel’s luxury real estate market is booming, and it’s driven in part by Jews buying ‘insurance homes’ to flee political strife in Europe and South America, Bloomberg, 15 Feburary 2019: Montreal’s Real-Estate Market Is About to Eclipse Vancouver’s, Gulf News, 19 February 2019: Dubai real estate market to stabilise in 2020; price declines to continue in 2019, The Local, 1 March 2019: Paris property prices soar to highest levels ever, Forbes, 12 March 2019: The Real Estate Market: Recovery And Retreat In New York City, CNBC, 29 March 2019: London house prices suffer their biggest drop in 10 years as Brexit fears bite, Globes, 1 April 2019: Home price gap between Tel Aviv and rest of Israel doubles, Bloomberg, 4 April 2019: Miami Tops U.S. in Home Price Cuts as Florida Markets Cool, France24, 6 April 2019: Germans up in arms over ‘rent insanity’, DW, 19 April 2019: First-time buyers crowded out of booming German housing market, Miami Herald, 17 May 2019: Miami home values may have peaked. But how will that affect prices?, Reuters, 21 May 2019: In inland Chinese province, property bubble haunts dreams of prosperity, The Guardian, 22 May 2019: Housing market may bottom out over next year, Australian property experts say, Times of Israel, 3 June 2019: The State of the Israeli Real Estate Market, City News 1130, 5 June 2019: Expert who predicted Vancouver housing price drop now expects condos to flood market, Miami Herald, 5 June 2019: ‘We are pricing everyone out of Miami.’ How locals compete with foreign buyers, CBC, 12 June 2019: Home prices in Vancouver are quadruple what average millennial can afford: report, The Guardian, 19 June 2019: House prices bouncing back? Don’t hold your breath, Los Angeles Times, 26 June 2019: Southern California home prices are flat in May as sales fall, Times of Israel, 26 June 2019: With its population set to double in 30 years, how will Israel cope?, CNBC, 1 July 2019: If you bought a house in San Francisco 10 years ago, here’s how much it could be worth now, Better Dwelling, 1 July 2019: Greater Vancouver New Home Sales Drop Nearly 90%, Gulf News, 2 July 2019: Increasing foreign ownership will move investors beyond UAE free zones, The Guardian, 2 July 2019: London house prices slide for eighth quarter in a row, Gulf News, 2 July 2019: Dubai ranks first in Arab world in future readiness, Gulf News, 9 July 2019: Dubai needs greater ‘transparency on real estate supply’, The Week, 11 July 2019: What Boris Johnson’s stamp duty cut would mean for London house prices, ArchDaily.com, 12 July 2019: London Launches Open Source App for Homebuilding, The Guardian, 16 July 2019: Berlin buys 670 flats on Karl-Marx-Allee from private owner, The Guardian, 17 July 2019: London house prices fall at fastest rate in 10 years, Spainhouses.net, 28 July 2019: Flats and Houses prices for sale in Barcelona province, Al Arabiya, 5 August 2019: Is the Gulf construction boom economically sound?, Politico.com, June 2019: Protecting the American Dream: Homeownership must remain national policy priority, NPR, 5 August 2019: In Seattle, A Move Across Town Could Be A Path Out Of Poverty, The National, 7 August 2019: How to rent a property in Dubai, Bloomberg, 7 August 2019: Australia’s Housing Market Is Suddenly Heating Up Again, BBC, 8 August 2019: UK house prices and sales ‘losing momentum’, The Guardian, 10 August 2019: In the retail crisis, the shutters are coming down even in New York, Al Jazeera, 11 August 2019: A lack of affordable housing feeds Hong Kong’s discontent, Irish Times, 14 August 2019: Property price growth cools to six-year low of 2%, The National, 19 August 2019: UAE construction sector to grow up to 10% in 2020, DW, 26 August 2019: Berlin could cap housing rents at under €8 per square meter, German taxpayers, according to the EU Commissioner, are apparently supposed to finance builders in other EU states), Gulf News, 3 September 2019: Fixing supply and demand in Dubai real estate, The National, 4 September 2019: Effective oversight of Dubai’s real estate sector a boon for emirate’s economy, Arab News, 8 September 2019: Saudi companies win contracts for workers’ housing in NEOM, Saudi Gazette, 8 September 2019: NEOM awards contracts for new village to national firms, Gulf Times, 9 September 2019: Qatar building permits fall in August, Arab News, 11 September 2019: Saudi foreign investor licenses more than double, Politico.eu, 12 September 2019: Why new homes are key to UK prosperity, CNN, 17 September 2019: He was a Yale graduate, Wall Street banker and entrepreneur. Today he’s homeless in Los Angeles, Politico.eu, 18 September 2019: To build housing for the future, Britain turns to the past, Politico.eu, 18 September 2019: Willkommen to Germany’s Caracas, BBC, 19 September 2019: The new island solving a Nordic housing crisis, Israel Hayom, 26 September 2019: New mortgages in Israel up by 30% since start of 2019, Arab News, 29 September 2019: Dubai developers race to lure buyers as downturn bites, BBC, 3 October 2019: Poland mortgages: Homeowners win fight over Swiss Franc loans, Politico.eu, 3 October 2019: EU court ruling on Polish mortgages turns political, Israel Hayom, 4 October 2019: Tel Aviv included on investment bank’s list of real estate bubbles, Jerusalem Post, 14 October 2019: The day after – examinig Israel’s real estate woes (what isn’t said in the article is that corruption in the Israeli real estate and construction industry is, compared to those in the EU and North America, on a remarkable high level, which in turn pushes away foreign investors on the one hand, and increases rents and asking prices on the other hand. Even the country’s “Crime Minster” himself is believed to be guilty of several bribery and corruption cases, of which the state prosecutor picked only three to bring them to court.) and NIMBY.

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Theme Week Saudi Arabia - Hofuf

Theme Week Saudi Arabia - Hofuf

[caption id="attachment_166029" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Al Hasa Oasis © Shijan Kaakkara/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Al-Hofuf is the major urban center in the Al-Ahsa Oasis in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It is also very well known for being one of the largest date producers in the world, and for its old souks and palaces. Historically, Hofuf made textiles out of wool, silk, and cotton. The town was also renowned for its fruit of the date palm, the Arabs considering the khalasi variety of dates, grow...

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