Fri, May 04, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Home sales in Greater Taipei rise by 10%

TURNAROUND?Improved figures provide ammunition to those who say the housing market bottomed out in the first quarter of the year when transfers sank to a 10-year low

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Home sales picked up by 10 percent in Greater Taipei last month from March, indicating a gradual but steady recovery driven by self-occupancy needs, real-estate analysts said yesterday.

Housing transactions totaled 3,228 units in Taipei City and 5,908 units in New Taipei City (新北市), rising 9.1 percent and 10 percent respectively from the levels in March, according to government data released on Wednesday.

The figures represented a decline of 18.42 percent in Taipei City and 12.36 percent in New Taipei City from a year earlier, government statistics indicated.

“This is the first time in three months that home sales in the capital have exceeded the 3,000 unit mark thanks to recovering demand from first-time buyers and people who want to change houses,” said Stanley Su (蘇啟榮), head researcher at Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋), the nation’s only listed real-estate broker.

The month-on-month improvement lent further support to those who suggest the housing market bottomed out in the first quarter of the year when transfers sank to a 10-year low as a result of unfavorable government policies, notably the special sales levy of up to 15 percent on houses resold within two years of purchase, Su said.

Beitou District (北投) saw the biggest increase with a 36.4 percent gain last month, followed by Daan District (大安) at 23.3 percent and Wenshan District (文山) at 22.6 percent, Su said, citing city government figures.

Old and small apartments underpinned the pickup as they are relatively affordable, he said.

“Quite a few buyers who cannot afford houses in Tienmu and Shihlin districts are searching for houses near the MRT station in Beitou,” Su said.

Affordability drove a continued migration to neighboring New -Taipei City, where apartments priced about NT$15 million are increasingly popular, said Jessica Hsu (徐佳馨), a spokeswoman for H&B Realty (住商不動產), Taiwan’s largest real-estate broker by number of franchises.

The districts of Sindian (新店), Yonghe (永和) and Sijhih (汐止) saw the number of home transfers jump more than 40 percent last month compared with March, government data showed.

“It takes only a few more minutes to access those areas by MRT or train and housing prices are much lower than in Taipei City,” Hsu said.

She forecast a tug-of-war ahead as sellers grow increasingly inflexible amid improving sentiment.

Su agreed with that observation, particularly as housing prices have so far failed to respond to the luxury tax.

In related news, developers and construction firms voiced concerns over possible future tightening measures as the central bank seeks to cool the housing market.

Two construction and development associations said they are drafting a position paper aimed at urging the government to reconsider imposing new selective credit controls on land financing and mortgage loan operations.

Local media have reported that the central bank plans to cap land financing at 50 percent from the current 65 percent to curb housing prices after a new luxury apartment building across from Daan Forest Park was priced at more than NT$3 million (US$102,590) per ping (3.3m2), a record high.

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