Wed, Jan 16, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Home prices likely to be flat: polls

TUG-OF-WAR:Buyers and sellers have become less flexible in negotiating prices after the price-registration measure went into effect, leading to a standoff, analysts said

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Taiwanese expect housing prices to hold steady this year after transactions plunged to a decade-low in Greater Taipei, but picked up in the south last year, real-estate analysts said.

Home deals are poised to regain vigor in Taoyuan this year, as the county is expected to become the nation’s sixth special municipality in December next year after its population passed the 2 million threshold, the analysts said.

Housing prices are likely to stay flat this year, after a spate of unfavorable government policies failed to trigger a correction, Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋) and Taiwan Realty Co (台灣房屋) said in separate surveys.

Nearly 50 percent of respondents in both polls agreed that prices would be flat, suggesting an extended tug-of-war between buyers and sellers as the economic outlook improves, Taiwan Realty manager Jack Chou (周鶴鳴) said.

About 30 percent of respondents were pessimistic about housing prices and the remaining 20 percent were bullish, Taiwan Realty’s survey showed.

“Housing transactions may remain tepid this year despite improved confidence,” Chou said. “That said, the worst is likely over, but a concrete recovery remains elusive in the absence of a major catalyst.”

Existing home deals fell to a 10-year low at 38,571 in Taipei and 69,211 in New Taipei City (新北市) last year, falling 22.7 percent and 17.6 percent respectively from a year earlier, government data showed.

Transactions dropped 7.18 percent year-on-year to 45,902 in Greater Taichung last year, but rose 5.75 percent to 39,625 in Greater Kaohsiung, according to government records.

Buyers and sellers have become less flexible in negotiating housing prices, after the government started publishing actual transaction prices on the Web site of the Ministry of Interior in mid-October, said Richard Liu (劉天仁), a vice president at Chinatrust Real Estate Co (中信房屋).

“The two sides differ on how they interpret the data — with buyers making offers based on the lowest listed prices and sellers citing the highest figures,” Liu said.

This has dragged out transactions and left little room for negotiations, Liu said, adding that the standoff was likely to continue until the two sides reach a consensus on how to interpret the price-registration measure.

Government tightening of the regulations governing commercial property investments by life insurance companies has added to the cautious sentiment, Liu said.

The Financial Supervisory Commission reportedly plans to lift a ban on commercial property transactions after the Lunar New Year holiday.

Homes sales in Taoyuan County may prove an exception as evidenced by the rapid inflow of funds into the area’s property market in recent years, Taiwan Association of Real Estate Brokers (不動產全聯會) chairman Alex Lee (李同榮) said.

“The county may see robust home trading this year, thanks to the planned upgrade in status and improved infrastructure and facilities,” Lee said.

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