Wed, Mar 28, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Survey shows real-estate market expected to grow

BREAKING POINT:Housing has seen a slowdown since the launch of a luxury tax, but pent-up demand is leading to a rebound, although it is expected to be a modest one

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff Reporter

Taiwan’s housing transactions may show a modest recovery from next quarter after a record number of Taipei residents voiced an interest in buying property, but said they would spend less on home purchases, a survey by Chinatrust Real Estate Co (中信房屋) showed yesterday.

A majority of respondents nationwide, 52.15 percent, expressed an interest in buying property, with the figure standing at 67.7 percent for residents in Taipei, while price differences between sellers and buyers fell from 20 percent to 15 percent, the quarterly survey showed.

The findings bode well for the nation’s housing market, which has seen sluggish trading for three consecutive quarters after the introduction in June last year of a special sales levy to curb short-term property speculation, company chairman Chris Cheng-Yu (鄭余正全) said.

“The housing market may recover some growth momentum for the rest of the year now that the buying interest gauge has bounced back above the neutral threshold,” Cheng-Yu told a media briefing.

The survey supported the upbeat sentiment shown by land developers that plan to launch NT$310 billion (US$10.49 billion) in housing projects, the second-highest level since 2008, in the spring season — beginning tomorrow and lasting until May 20.

Housing transactions at Chinatrust Real Estate nearly doubled this month from last month on the back of pent-up demand and declining expectations of a price correction, company vice chairman Richard Liu (劉天仁) said.

“Home prices have held steady despite declining transactions,” Liu said. “Some prospective buyers took note of the trend and decided to wait no longer.”

Liu expects housing transactions to pick up slowly but steadily in coming quarters amid stable prices, as the government would frown on price hikes.

Despite the pickup, home transfers may not return to the levels seen before the imposition of the luxury tax, with short-term investors out of the market, Liu said.

Steven Yang (楊家彥), an economist at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (台灣經濟研究院), said the property market is set to benefit from the government’s latest easing on investment from China.

“The much-expected influx of Chinese capital is about to start after the opening of Taiwanese manufacturers to Chinese investment,” said Yang, who was also present at the news conference.

Chinese investors have indicated keen interest in acquiring stakes in Taiwanese technology firms, a development that is also positive for local real-estate property, Yang said.

The government poses the biggest downside risk to the market if it seeks to address the widening income gap by raising property taxes, as some academics have suggested, he said.

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