Tue, Jul 31, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Existing home sales fell in July: brokers

WAIT AND SEE:Prospective buyers are delaying purchases in hopes that new price registration rules would drive housing prices lower, major real-estate brokers said

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Existing home transactions cooled slightly this month, compared with last month, as the widely anticipated selloff ahead of the registration requirement next month did not take place, major real-estate brokers said yesterday.

Beginning tomorrow, real-estate buyers, brokers and administrative agents must file transaction details — notably the transaction price — within one month.

Those who fail to do or who file fraudulent figures will be subject to a fine of between NT$30,000 (US$997) to NT$150,000, and may be repeatedly fined until they comply with the law.

H&B Realty (住商不動產), the nation’s largest real-estate broker by number of franchises, saw its existing home sales this month dip 5 percent from a month ago, as prospective buyers decided to wait and see if the registration rule might trigger a price drop, head researcher Jessica Hsu (徐佳馨) said.

Home sales dropped 15 percent in Greater Taipei, Taoyuan and Hsinchu, but picked up 10 percent in central and southern Taiwan, indicating more property funds moved southward, Hsu said.

“The [housing transaction] figures bucked the widespread expectation of a selloff in the run-up to the registration requirement,” Hsu said. “More houses must have been put on the market, but buyers preferred to see how the registration rule pans out.”

Several property players are reportedly seeking to exit the market amid concern the new measure would subject them to heavy taxes and reduce room for price maneuvering.

Taiwan Realty Co (台灣房屋), another major real-estate broker, reported a 7.75 percent decline in existing home sales nationwide this month, led by a 17 percent drop in Greater Taipei, the company said.

Taiwan Realty manager Jack Chou (周鶴鳴) attributed the sluggish trading to delayed purchases as prospective buyers hope the registration requirement would shed more light on housing prices.

Many people mistrust construction firms and brokers, and think they tend to exaggerate home values to push deals, Chou said.

Despite slower housing transactions, overall housing prices still edged up 1.69 percent this month, climbing from NT$538,200 per ping (3.3m2) to NT$540,800 per ping in Taipei and from NT$288,900 a ping to NT$295,100 a ping in New Taipei City (新北市), Taiwan Realty said.

Real estate remained the favorite tool to park idle funds amid a poor economy, Chou said.

Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋), the nation’s only listed real-estate broker, saw flat sales this month compared with a month earlier, with the third quarter being a low season for property transactions.

Sinyi head researcher Stanley Su (蘇啟榮) said many customers did ask about the registration rule, but added that infrastructure facilities and interest rates had a greater role in determining housing prices.

Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), a professor of land economics at National Chengchi University, said the registration measure would boost or weigh on home prices after its implementation.

“Home prices deemed unreasonable would receive support if they correspond with the registered data and vice versa,” Chang said, adding that it would take a while to collect sufficient data to serve as a reference for the market.

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