Housing transactions last month totaled 17,603 units in the six special municipalities, down 11.2 percent from one month earlier, as the coronavirus pandemic weighed on buying interest, analysts said.
“Prospective buyers turned conservative as the virus outbreak wreaked havoc on major economies around the world, with the US’ GDP shrinking 4.8 percent last quarter,” the worst since the global financial crisis, Evertrust Rehouse Co (永慶房屋) spokesman Jay Hsieh (謝志傑) said.
Although the number of infections is low in Taiwan, consumers have refrained from purchases of durable goods for fear the disease might persist and weaken household incomes, Hsieh said.
Photo: Hsu Yi-ping, Taipei Times
Taichung reported the steepest monthly decline of 21.4 percent to 3,314 units, while Kaohsiung posted a 13.1 percent retreat to 2,684 deals, the broker said, citing data from respective local governments.
Transactions in Tainan slumped 10.8 percent to 1,697 units and weakened 9.8 percent to 3,314 units in Taoyuan.
Taipei and New Taipei City were relatively resilient with declines of 6.9 percent and 5.3 percent to 2,241 and 4,591 deals respectively.
The figures bucked the seasonal trend as the current quarter is normally a high season for the housing market, Hsieh said.
While manufacturing companies in Taiwan have maintained normal operations, service providers, such as restaurants, hotels and retailers saw sharp declines in the number of customers as authorities worldwide ban cross-border travel and locals avoid going out to lower the risk of infection.
The sentiment would erase a 2 percent annual gain in housing transactions in the first four months, Evertrust said.
Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋), the nation’s only listed broker, was more optimistic, saying that it has seen sentiment improving from the second half of last month.
Buying interest lost steam in March, but gained some traction after the TAIEX climbed above 10,000 points in the middle of last month, Sinyi research manager Tseng Ching-der (曾敬德) said.
Tseng attributed the stock rally to concerted monetary easing by central banks worldwide to pre-empt a credit crunch and bolster consumer confidence.
The absence of new coronavirus infections for six consecutive days last week in Taiwan would further support the housing market from this month, Tseng said.
In related news, foreigners last quarter bought 332 homes in Taiwan, an increase of 46.3 percent annually and the highest level in 16 years, with floor space of 11,000 ping (36,364m2), H&B Realty Co (住商不動產) said, attributing the increase to capital repatriation.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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