Wed, Jan 25, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Controls could scupper real-estate brokerages: job bank

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff Reporter

With the government’s control measures unlikely to unwind in the near term, about 30 percent of the nation’s real-estate brokerages are likely to cease their operations in the next six months, according to a local online job bank.

In addition, another 30 percent of local real-estate brokerages may shift their focus to other business opportunities over the same period in view of the sluggish housing market, the 1111 Job Bank (1111人力銀行) reported earlier this month, citing the Taipei Association of Real Estate Brokers (台北市房仲公會).

To help cool the local housing market and make it more fair, the government has introduced various policies over the past year, including selective credit-tightening measures and a special sales levy of 10 to 15 percent of the transaction price on properties sold between one and two years following purchase.

Late last year, lawmakers also approved bills that require land administration agents, real-estate buyers and real-estate brokers to register the value of property transactions within 30 days of a deal closing.

Based on job listings compiled by 1111 Job Bank, companies in the construction and real-estate sectors held a more conservative attitude on hiring in the final quarter of last year than in the previous quarter.

Last month alone, the number of job openings in the construction and real-estate sectors dropped 14.11 percent from the previous month, larger than an average decline of 2.88 percent in overall openings, the job agency said in a press release on Jan. 12, two days ahead of the presidential and legislative elections.

“A number of real-estate brokerage franchises closed shop recently, causing some agents in the franchise offices to lose their jobs before the Lunar New Year,” 1111 Job Bank spokeswoman Charlene Chang (張旭嵐) said in the release.

“If market transactions cannot recover after the election, it is expected that more agents, especially those with very low base salaries but high bonuses, will have to change their careers after the Lunar New Year,” Chang said.

Weaker brokerages would be driven out of business after the government’s market transparency rules take effect in July, she added.

Chang’s remark, however, came in stark contrast to a string of expansion plans recently announced by major real-estate brokerages, which will add more than 600 new outlets, creating more than 20,000 jobs this year.

Evertrust Rehouse Co (永慶房屋), the nation’s largest broker by number of outlets, including franchises and directly owned branches, plans to expand its number of outlets by 16 percent to 1,000 this year, Evertrust president Benson Liao (廖本勝) said on Dec. 27.

Sinyi Realty Co (信義房屋), the nation’s only listed real-estate broker, plans to hire 3,300 more employees and add 46 new offices this year — mainly in central and southern Taiwan — to boost the total number of outlets by 12 percent to 432 nationwide, chairman Chou Chun-chi (周俊吉) said on Jan. 2.

H&B Realty Co (住商不動產), a member of Sinyi Group, also plans to open an additional 100 outlets this year to bring the total to 555, Chou added.

Chang said the online job agency’s database did show more real-estate brokerages plan to increase hiring in the current quarter even as the housing market is projected to remain sluggish.

She said the hiring plans reflected major brokerages’ aggressiveness in maximizing market share, but it was also because the turnover rate is high in this line of business, so that brokerages have to keep hiring, she added.

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