Wed, Feb 12, 2020 - Page 12 News List

Housing transactions top 300,000, highest in 5 years

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Housing transactions last year surpassed 300,000 units nationwide for the first time in five years to reach 300,275, further suggesting a slow, but gradual recovery in the residential property market.

The number of foreclosed homes dropped 2.23 percent to 5,117, affirming a healthy market, which is likely to consolidate this quarter due to unease over the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, analysts said yesterday.

The housing market last year saw robust growth, despite political and economic uncertainty, REPro Knight Frank researcher Andy Huang (黃舒衛) said, referring to the presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 11, and the US-China trade dispute.

Many analysts have set the bar at 300,000 units as an indicator of a bull market after the government introduced a series of measures to cool the property market.

The pace of recovery was strong even in secondary areas, with Yunlin County reporting a 24.4 percent gain, Chaiyi City posting a 22 percent increase and Nantou County seeing a 15 percent pickup, Huang said.

Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋) said that the foreclosure market is another gauge of the market’s health and a decline in foreclosed homes last year reflects fewer incidences of cash strain among homeowners.

“Fewer houses were foreclosed as homeowners showed better financial planning ability,” Sinyi researcher Tseng Ching-der (曾敬德) said.

The number of inherited and gifted properties also rose as the nation’s population ages rapidly amid a declining birthrate.

The number of inherited houses last year rose 2.42 percent to 57,677, while gifted houses increased 2.16 percent to 43,956, government data showed.

Parents prefer to gift property to their children while they are still alive to save on tax expenses, Tseng said.

However, the rates of inherited and gifted property transfers remain relatively low at 80 percent of the level they were in 2015, when the government raised inheritance and gift taxes from a flat 10 percent rate to a range of 10 to 20 percent, Sinyi said.

Cheng Shin Appraisal Group (正心不動產估價) said the local property market might consolidate this quarter, as the outbreak in China is disrupting business activity.

However, the outbreak might not deal a blow as serious as the 2003 SARS outbreak, because many home buyers now prefer to view properties over the Internet using augmented-virtuality technology, Cheng Shin said.

Borrowing costs also remain low and liquidity is sufficient, the Taichung-based firm said.

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