Wed, Jan 30, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Housing sales up 4.5 percent as rebound softens

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Last year saw 277,967 housing transactions, up 4.5 percent from a year earlier, as demand spurred a modest recovery, analysts said.

It is the second consecutive year the housing market staged a rebound, although the pace lost steam compared with the 8 percent pickup recorded in 2017, analysts said.

“Transaction data affirmed a slow recovery that lost some steam in the second half to economic and political uncertainty at home and abroad,” Evertrust Rehouse Co (永慶房屋) spokesman Jay Hsieh (謝志傑) said.

Taiwan’s small and open economy is susceptible to an ongoing trade dispute between the US and China, Hsieh said, adding that the nine-in-one elections on Nov. 24 also sidelined a considerable number of potential buyers.

Although buying interest improved after the elections, there is still ample room to improve, Evertrust said, adding that the volume fell short of its forecast of 280,000 transactions.

“Homeowners better not misjudge the situation and raise selling prices unreasonably,” Hsieh said. “Pricing gaps might slow transactions this year.”

The nation’s largest broker by number of offices said it expects home deals to hold steady between 280,000 and 290,000 transactions this year, while housing prices might continue to consolidate.

Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋), the nation’s only listed broker, voiced similar views, saying that the property market appeared to have bottomed out in terms of transactions, as evidenced by two straight years of rebound.

Real demand underpinned the market while investors stayed away, Sinyi researcher Tseng Ching-der (曾進德) said.

However, transactions plunged 27 percent compared with the level in 2008 of 379,000 units, Tseng said.

“Affordability and investment needs accounted for the difference,” Tseng said.

Eastern Realty Co (東森房屋) was more upbeat, saying that housing transactions could return to 300,000 units this year if talks of capital repatriation prove true.

Capital repatriation could add fuel to property transactions in Taipei and New Taipei City in particular, Eastern Realty manager Layla Yu (于靜芳) said.

Taipei last year saw a 14 percent increase in deals to 26,800, while New Taipei City recorded a 10 percent gain to 56,700 units, Yu said.

Sufficient liquidity and low interest rates could lend support to the property market, which has proven to be less volatile than stocks, mutual funds and other assets, Yu said.

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