Wed, Jun 06, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Housing deals rise 20 percent

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Housing transactions picked up 20 percent so far this quarter in major metropolitan areas, from a 17 percent decline nationwide in the first quarter, government data showed yesterday.

The market is likely to weaken going forward, with house prices falling between 5 and 10 percent as jitters over the economy at home and abroad heighten, said National Chengchi University land economics professor Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), who was commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior’s Construction and Planning Agency to conduct the quarterly survey.

Chang, a strong critic of what he calls the nation’s runaway house prices, pressed the government to help channel excess liquidity to other sectors rather than concentrate on real-estate investment and deepen the risk of a bubble.

A total of 36,148 homes changed hands during the January-to-March period, declining 17 percent from three months earlier and 40 percent from a year ago, with Greater Taipei under-performing other regions, the academic said.

However, transactions rose 21 percent in Taipei last month compared with April, to an 11-month high of 3,922 properties, and they rose 23 percent to a 15-month high of 4,196 properties in Greater Kaohsiung, based on figures released by the respective local governments on Monday.

New Taipei City (新北市) reported a 19.4 percent monthly increase to 7,053 properties last month, the strongest showing in 11 months, according to the city government’s statistics.

Chang attributed the improvement to a confidence rebound toward the end of the first quarter, but sentiment has taken a U-turn of late after the European debt problems deteriorated, boding ill for Taiwan’s export-oriented economy.

The implementation of a housing transaction registration rule in the next quarter would cast another shadow over the property market because the requirement would limit room for price manipulation by developers, construction firms and real-estate brokers, Chang said.

The special sales levy, better known as the luxury tax, has driven some, but not all, speculators out of the market and therefore delayed an expected price correction, he said.

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