Mon, Feb 14, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Property prices go down

LESS CONFIDENCE A survey conducted by the Council for Economic Planning and Development found that the house market suffered under inflationary pressures

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Home shoppers appear to be losing confidence in an expected surge in residential property prices as a government composite index for property prices continued to go south in the last quarter, according to a survey by the Council for Economic Planning and Development.

The survey, released on Feb. 5 by the council's urban and housing development department, showed the index dropped from the first quarter's peak of 131 points to 120 points in the second quarter and to 111.28 points in the third quarter, before leveling at 104.57 points in the fourth quarter.

"Rising interest rates, inflationary pressures and property supply slightly curbed the residential property market to see a limited growth momentum in the fourth quarter," the survey said.

"Home buyers are cautiously optimistic [about the market] since the index remains above the 100-point level, but their views toward property prices one year ahead are less optimistic," the survey said.

The survey, conducted between Dec. 1 and Dec. 15, found that 30.4 percent of the polled home buyers believe that property prices are on the rise, although the figure has been declining for the third consecutive quarter.

Looking ahead, the survey showed that 39.7 percent of the polled predicted property prices will drop over the year while 24.8 percent disagreed.

The council's survey also polled opinions of house owners and showed similar results from that of potential home buyers. It found that 41.4 percent of respondents believe that property prices are on the rise, compared to 8.9 percent who hold the opposite view.

Looking at property prices a year later, 34.7 percent of house owners predicted a rising trend, but the figure was much lower from the third quarter's 44.6 percent.

Rising home prices also mean that home buyers feel pressured by heavy mortgage payments, which account for 26.7 percent -- up from the first quarter's 24.8 percent -- of their monthly incomes, according to the survey.

Property prices -- which the council says average 5.7 times respondents' incomes -- have been on the rise for the sixth consecutive quarter, gradually returning to the level of 2001, according to Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), a professor of land economics at National Chengchi University.

Chang said that transaction prices and volume will remain stable this year as the real-estate market continues on a path of steady growth.

Lai Cheng-i (賴正鎰), chairman of the Taiwan Construction Development Federation, agreed.

"The outlook for the domestic property market is positive as there's no major elections to be held in the next two years, while the cross-strait relationship is showing a constructive trend following the execution of direct charter flights," Lai told a press conference on Feb. 2.

But the supply this year will be lower than last year's, with some NT$300 billion worth of new properties to be released, a 30-percent decline from last year, Lai said.

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