Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Property buyers’ interest falls: survey

WAIT AND SEE:House sales picked up between March and May, but a survey found that prospective buyers are now hanging back to see where the economy is going

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Taiwanese househunters’ interest in purchasing homes cooled this quarter, from the preceding three months, because many turned cautious as new registration requirements for housing transactions loom, a survey by Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋), the nation’s only listed broker, found yesterday.

Almost one-third of respondents, or 31 percent, reported lower buying interest from the preceding quarter, while 18 percent intended to up their stakes and the rest adopted a neutral stance, the survey indicated.

This sentiment bodes ill for housing transactions in the second half of the year, with several analysts forecasting a drop of between 10 percent and 15 percent from the first six months of the year.

“People have calmed somewhat after [earlier] inflationary pressures drove some into the market,” Sinyi researcher Tseng chin-der (曾敬德) said by telephone.

Developers and construction firms reported a pickup in sales between March and May on the back of growing inflationary pressures, after the government raised oil and electricity prices.

Various surveys point to real estate as the most favored hedge against inflation among Taiwanese, a trend that has found support in excessive savings and low interest rates.

Worries over inflation have dissipated significantly, as almost 70 percent of the respondents said the issue has no impact on their decision, the survey showed.

The majority, or 53 percent, of respondents said they care more about economic fundamentals and believed it is better to wait and see until the picture becomes a bit clearer, according to the survey.

The new registration rule, which requires all property buyers, sellers and brokers to enter actual prices and other transaction details online from next month, is also causing buyers to be patient for a while, the survey found.

About 40 percent of respondents said they would postpone purchases to see how the rule affects the market.

Jessica Hsu (徐佳馨), head researcher at H&B Realty (住商不動產), Taiwan’s largest real-estate broker by number of franchises, said many prospective buyers see the registration rule as negative, fearing the government will use the data to increase property taxes in future.

Hsu expects housing transactions to slow for the rest of the year, with no major catalysts in sight.

Sellers of old apartments, in particular, have showed a willingness to soften prices after the government recently announced plans to raise hurdles for urban regeneration efforts, Hsu said.

According to Sinyi’s survey, 57 percent of respondents expected tighter restrictions to dampen the prices of old apartments.

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