Sat, Aug 02, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Real-estate market is showing signs of hoped-for rebound

By Annabel Lue  /  STAFF REPORTER

The real-estate market, which has been continuously declining over last two years, is starting to see a gentle rebound, led by residential housing markets in Taipei and Taichung, industry analysts said yesterday.

"In the second quarter of this year, especially in June, we saw a significant [residential housing] market rebound in the nation's metropolitan areas," said Lai Cheng-i (賴正鎰), Taiwan Construction Development Federation (台灣省建築開發公會) chairman.

He added that current prices in Taipei and Taichung's premium housing areas, such as the Hsinyi district, are 10 percent higher than prices were late last year.

"The market outlook is optimistic ? we expect to see housing transactions in the second half of this year increase 30 percent over the same period last year," Lai said.

Cathay Real Estate Development Ltd (國泰地產), the nation's largest developer, also said the market is finally having good news.

Average housing prices around the nation, which have been sliding for the past 10 quarters, held firm at NT$150,000 per ping in the second quarter of the year, according to the company's latest housing index report released on Thursday.

Housing prices in Taipei City even surged NT$7,000 in the second quarter, to NT$350,000 per ping over the previous quarter.

The volume of pre-sale housing units offered nationwide in that period also increased 44.9 percent over the previous quarter.

A total of 184 housing units were released on the market between April and June, accounting for NT$81.1 billion in estimated sales, the report said.

"Compared with last year -- one of the most depressed markets we've seen -- we now expect a brighter outlook," said Chang Chin-e (張金鶚), a researcher at Taiwan Real Estate Research Center and the report's project director.

However, based on the current market situation, "it is too early to say the local housing market is ready to fully recover," he said.

Differing from Taipei and Taichung, market demand in the southern part of the nation remains sluggish.

Over-supply has made average housing prices in Kaoshiung and Tainan slide below NT$100,000 per ping in the second quarter of this year from NT$110,000 the previous quarter, according to the report.

Meanwhile, another industry watcher pointed out that the rebound in Northern Taiwan could be "temporary."

"It is not a full rebound. On the contrary, it is more like the anamolous booms that happened in other areas," said Chen Kuan-yu (陳冠宇), chairman of the Taipei Real Estate Appraisal Consultants Association (台北市不動產鑑定公會).

The government's NT$200 billion preferential home-loan fund is expected to be depleted by next month, so people are still upbeat about housing, he explained.

The loan package allows home-buyers to borrow at a rate of 2.8 percent and each home-buyer can borrow up to NT$2.5 million.

"I don't expect Taiwan's real-estate market to rebound to a pleasant level by 2005," Chen added.

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