Thu, Nov 29, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Home purchases, prices may dip: analyst

QUARTERLY SURVEY:A survey in the third quarter showed a drop in unit transactions. One land economist said the decline was the result of slowing demand from speculators

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

The housing market may trend down in the near future in terms of transaction units and prices, as more people become familiar with the government’s real-estate transaction price disclosure system, an economist said yesterday.

The comment from Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), a land economics professor at National Chengchi University, came after the Ministry of the Interior’s latest data showed 47,174 housing units changed hands in the July-to-September period, down 11.8 percent from the second quarter.

On an annual basis, the figure represented a 0.8 percent increase in the third quarter, the data showed.

The ministry’s Construction and Planning Agency, which disclosed the data as part of a quarterly survey of the housing market, said the quarterly decline was a result of potential buyers maintaining a wait-and-see attitude after the government’s real-price registration measure took effect on Aug. 1.

Home prices averaged NT$9.25 million (US$317,052) a unit in the third quarter, rising 0.28 percent from the second quarter and 9.1 percent higher than the third quarter of last year.

“The housing market showed a high-level consolidation in the third quarter,” Chang, who conducted the survey for the commission, said by telephone.

However, Chang expected sentiment in the property market to drop in the fourth quarter and again next year, on the back of slowing demand from speculative investors.

The real-price registration system may raise price transparency of the housing market, stopping speculators from boosting prices intentionally, he said.

The agency’s latest data also showed that home prices amounted to 9.1 times an individual household income during the July-and-September period, the highest level in history, an indication that the average working-class family still had a hard time purchasing their own home.

In addition, the average mortgage burden constituted 35.3 percent of a buyer’s payroll in the third quarter, up 1.8 percentage points from the previous quarter and 2.2 percentage points from a year ago, the survey showed.

The affordability readings in Taipei remained heaviest during July-and-September period, with prices standing at 14 times annual household income and mortgages making up 51.4 percent of take-home salaries, the survey’s statistics showed.

The agency released the survey during its daily routine press conference, instead of holding an independent press meeting as it has done previously.

Chang also did not preside over the press conference as he had been done for previous survey releases, raising the question of whether the agency is unhappy with him.

Earlier this month, Chang criticized the agency’s director-general, Yeh Shi-wen (葉世文), for encouraging the public to invest in real estate, despite the potential investment risks during an economic downturn.

However, the agency said the press conference changes had nothing to do with Chang’s criticism.

Chang said it was unfortunate the agency did not let him explain and analyze the report directly, thereby preventing the public from receiving clear information.

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