Fri, Feb 10, 2012 - Page 12 News List

New home sales pick up, but used home sales slow

SLOW RECOVERY:Interest in new homes rose after the elections as expectations of a price fall eased, while sales of existing homes fell as brokers closed for the holiday

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff Reporter

New home sales picked up last month because of pent-up demand, while existing home sales dropped because of fewer working days, suggesting a sluggish recovery, real-estate analysts said yesterday.

Transactions for pre-sale and newly completed houses rose 30 percent to 98 units in northern Taiwan last month, from 75 units in December, the Chinese-language Housing Monthly (住展雜誌) said in a survey released yesterday.

The number of people looking for new homes rose 35 percent to 1,651 last month from 1,222 in December, as sales staff at property developers stayed on duty over the Lunar New Year holiday, the survey said.

To entice buyers, developers invited celebrities and gave away free tickets to hot springs and other recreation facilities, it said.

“The promotion campaigns strengthened buying interest and transactions, but [sales transactions] were weak” compared with figures before the imposition of the special sales levy in June last year, Housing Monthly researcher Chen Yun-ru (陳韻如) said by telephone.

Chen attributed the improvement in new home sales to pent-up demand as many buyers postponed purchases until after the Jan. 14 presidential election.

“President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) win eased political uncertainty and expectations of a price fall,” Chen said.

Price concessions fell to the lowest level in two years at 13 percent last month, from 14 percent in December, during which some construction sites reported fewer than 10 visitors per week, Chen said.

The magazine said that the property market flashed a “yellow-blue” light last month, unchanged from a month earlier, but bucking expectations of a “blue” signal — signifying a slowdown — despite the holiday, Chen said.

People usually avoid buying houses during the Lunar New Year, she said.

The latest sales data lent support to a slow recovery, Chen said, adding that developers who didn’t push new projects last quarter because of political concerns would unveil new ones before the end of the quarter.

Meanwhile, the existing home market dipped further last month as major brokers closed for the holiday.

H&B Realty (住商不動產), the nation’s largest real-estate broker by number of franchises, said its home transactions plunged 30 percent last month, while Taiwan Realty Co (台灣房屋) reported a 20 percent decline.

H&B spokeswoman Jessica Hsu (徐佳馨) said Greater Taipei remained the most affected area, but added that the worst was likely over as evidenced by improving buying interest this month.

“The number of prospective buyers picked up 10 percent this month, compared with last month,” Hsu said by telephone. “Differences over housing prices remain, however.”

Taiwan Realty head researcher Jhally Chiu said buying interest recovered somewhat in the capital’s prime locations after the global economic situation showed signs of stabilizing.

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