Mon, Feb 04, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Taipei property sales rise 14 percent

ENCOURAGING SIGNS:With data showing transactions at a six-month high, analysts said recovery may be boosted in June, two years since the luxury tax was implemented

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Property transactions hit a six-month high in Taipei last month, rising 14 percent from December last year, as improving market transparency lifted cautious sentiment, real- estate analysts said.

A total of 3,769 residential and commercial properties changed hands in the capital last month, compared with 3,304 in December, statistics released by the Taipei City Government on Friday showed.

The city government’s data brought a timely relief to the housing market.

On Thursday, the Ministry of the Interior said that last year the nation’s housing transfers had dropped to a nine-year low at 329,741 units amid economic uncertainty and unfavorable government policies.

“The figures reflected a nascent recovery in home buying interest five months after the government introduced the price-registration measure,” said Andy Huang (黃舒衛), spokesman for Evertrust Rehouse Co (永慶房屋), the nation’s largest property broker by number of outlets.

The price registration measure, which requires buyers, sellers and agents to file transaction prices and other data online, has fed expectations of a price fall due to a popular belief that sellers, especially construction firms, tend to exaggerate housing prices.

However, the anticipated market correction did not take place, leading some buyers to take action, Huang said, adding that prospective buyers increased 20 percent last month from a month earlier.

Most buyers are looking for two-bedroom apartments priced below NT$20 million (US$647,600) and assign less importance to location, thanks to the city’s extensive public transport network, Huang said.

The city government’s data showed that housing transactions in the districts of Neihu (內湖), Beitou (北投), Songshan (松山), Shihlin (士林) and Zhongzheng (中正) rose by more than 25 percent last month from a month earlier, while those in Xinyi (信義) and Wenshan (文山) districts fell during the same period.

While the impact of the price registration measure may be softening, the housing market remains weighted by a special sales levy of between 10 percent and 15 percent of the transaction price, as sales lag far behind pre-tax levels.

Since June 1, 2011, properties that are sold within one to two years of purchase are subject to this special sales levy, also known as a luxury tax.

The situation may improve in June this year, as many houses will pass the two-year period and be put on the market, said Tseng Chin-der (曾敬德), a researcher at Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋), the nation’s only listed broker.

The growth in supply will give buyers more choice and help boost transaction numbers, Tseng said.

The improved sentiment has extended to the pre-sale and new home trading segment, according to the Chinese-language Housing Monthly magazine.

In the magazine’s latest market outlook gauge, a “yellow-blue” indicator was shown for the new home market on the back of growing home advertisements, supply and sales volumes.

“More buyers paid visits to construction sites last month and transactions increased 10 percent from one month earlier; signs of a rebound, if not solid recovery,” Housing Monthly spokesman Ni Tsu-jen (倪子仁) said.

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