Continuing to show marked signs of slow recovery, the nation's property market saw housing prices slightly increase, but transaction volumes went down in the fourth quarter last year, a real estate indicator report issued by Cathay Real Estate Development Co (國泰建設) said yesterday.
Although construction firms built more housing units compared with the third quarter, sales transaction rates dwindled in central and southern Taiwan, according to the report.
"We predict that price and volume will remain stable this year as the real estate market continues on a path of steady growth," said Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), a professor of land economics at National Chengchi University and the report's author, at a press conference yesterday.
Therefore, now is an opportune time for first-time home buyers to enter the market, Chang said.
Nationwide, 25,197 new housing units totaling NT$193.4 billion (US$6 billion) were supplied to the market in the fourth quarter, up by 22 percent and 8 percent, respectively, from the previous quarter.
Among the five areas surveyed in the report, Taipei County saw a whopping 50 percent increase in terms of new units built, while other places -- Taipei City, the Taoyuan-Hsinchu market, Taichung and the Tainan-Kaohsiung market -- remained nearly unchanged from the previous quarter.
"Transaction prices in each market have been on the rise for the sixth consecutive quarter, gradually returning to the level in 2001," Chang said.
The 2001 fiscal year was taken as the base period for this report.
"But sliding transaction rates pose the biggest challenge in market operations," Chang said.
The Taichung market showed the lowest transaction rate due to oversupply and higher-than-expected housing prices, showing a wide gap in confidence between builders and perspective home buyers.
In the long term, northern Taiwan shows stronger momentum than its central and southern counterparts, the report noted.