Housing transactions in Taipei City dropped further last month from a month earlier, plunging the overall volume last year to an eight-year low, as economic and political uncertainties sideline buyers, real-estate analysts said yesterday.
Home transfers totaled 3,422 units last month, down 0.18 percent from November, based on Taipei City Government data released yesterday.
It was the sixth month that the trading volume stayed below the 4,000-unit mark, dragging the annual total to 49,918 units, a 21 percent decline from a year earlier and lower than in 2003 when the deadly flu-like SARS epidemic chilled the market, the statistics indicated.
Jessica Hsu (徐佳馨), head researcher at H&B Realty (住商不動產), Taiwan’s largest real-estate broker by number of franchises, expects the number to sink lower this month because many prospective buyers are postponing purchase decisions until after the presidential election on Saturday.
“The correction, attributable mainly to the special sales levy in June last year, may not see a let-up until late March, when developers are due to roll out their first batch of new housing projects for the year,” Hsu said.
The tax, up to 15 percent of trading prices on residential units resold with two years of purchase, has scared away speculators, who are blamed for inflating housing costs in the capital and neighboring New Taipei City (新北市) beyond reasonable levels, Hsu said.
The prime locations bore the brunt of the tax and other unfavorable government policies because housing prices there are the most unaffordable, said Stanley Su (蘇啟榮), chief researcher at Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋), the nation’s only listed broker.
Zhongzheng (中正) and Xinyi (信義) districts in Taipei saw the biggest corrections at 35 percent and 31 percent respectively last year, even though their housing prices picked up 10 percent and 16 percent from a year earlier, Su said.
Home transfers in Neihu (內湖) and Songshan (松山) districts shrank 27 percent and 25 percent respectively last year after home costs increased by 14 percent and 15 percent, Su said.
“While the market may regain some momentum after the presidential election, robust trading is unlikely in the foreseeable future,” Su said.
Last month failed to see any new presale projects after sluggish fall sales, leading brokers to forecast a price correction this year.