Fri, Feb 07, 2014 - Page 14 News List

Housing sales decrease

BUYERS SIDELINED:Real-estate brokers attribute a decline in the housing market to disrupted sales over the Lunar New Year holiday and cooler buying interest

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Property transactions declined significantly in the special municipalities last month from the previous month, as cold weather and the Lunar New Year holidays sidelined prospective buyers, real-estate brokers said yesterday.

The number of property deals — including homes and commercial properties — dropped 7.35 percent last month to 3,202, the second-lowest amount in 12 years, as buyers hesitated to chase prices, said H&B Realty Co (住商不動產), the nation’s largest real-estate broker by number of franchises. Hsu expects the market to remain soft this month as holiday disruptions continue to weigh on sentiment.

“People tend to avoid making decisions on buying homes over holidays when ownership transfer and mortgage applications may be delayed,” H&B spokeswoman Jessica Hsu (徐佳馨) said in a phone interview.

The low temperatures ahead of the Lunar New Year on Jan. 30 also helped reduce buying interest, Hsu said.

Altogether, property transactions totaled 371,800 last year, up 12.78 percent from a year earlier and higher than the forecast of 365,000 to 368,000 made by various real-estate brokers, according to the Ministry of the Interior’s tally.

Hsu attributed the showing — the strongest in three years — to a stable recovery and pent-up demand in the wake of the special sales levy and other unfavorable measures intended to cool property speculation. The upside surprise is unlikely to repeat this year now that unaffordability has become a nationwide phenomenon rather than limited to Taipei and parts of New Taipei City (新北市), Hsu said.

In New Taipei City, property transactions shrank 20.1 percent last month to 6,007, Evertrust Rehouse Co (永慶房屋) said, citing city government figures. Evertrust spokesman Andy Huang (黃舒衛) attributed the retreat partly to a high base in December last year when builders completed work on new apartment complexes in Tamsui District (淡水).

The December base effect may continue to disrupt property transactions later this year as presale projects in districts of Linkou (林口) and Sinjhuang (新莊) are slated to be completed, Huang said.

Greater Taichung saw property trade slump 26.3 percent last month to 4,431 units, compared with one month earlier, Evertrust said.

The market in central Taiwan remained active despite the monthly decline, thanks to a sustained southward migration of property funds, Evertrust added.

In Greater Kaohsiung, property deals softened 8.7 percent last month to 3,678 units, as buying interest in high-end products cooled in southern Taiwan, Huang added.

Huang said the sentiment change had to do with increased income tax burdens on luxury home sellers.

The Ministry of Finance defined luxury homes as houses with a value in excess of NT$80 million (US$2.63 million) in Greater Taipei and NT$50 million elsewhere.

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