The housing vacancy rate nationwide stood at 9.13 percent, or 812,947 units, in the first half of last year, shrinking for the fourth quarter to the lowest level since the launch of the survey in 2009, the Ministry of the Interior said in a report released yesterday.
The latest data represent a drop of 0.1 percentage points from six months earlier, and suggest that the ongoing property boom has the support of real demand, and selling pressure is not gaining momentum, despite credit controls and other tightening measures.
Of the six special municipalities, where the central bank has banned grace periods for second-home mortgages, Taipei has the lowest ratio of vacant homes at 6.82 percent, it said.
New Taipei City reported the second-lowest rate of unoccupied homes at 7.76 percent, followed by Taichung at 8.39 percent, Tainan at 8.67 percent and Taoyuan at 8.92 percent, it said, adding that Kaohsiung is the only special municipality with an above-average vacancy rate of 9.63 percent.
The government arrived at the findings by using electricity consumption data that define homes using less than 60 kilowatts of electricity a month as unoccupied.
Vacant homes are a result of sluggish sales of new complexes or purchases for property investment or hoarding.
The number of unsold homes reached more than 70,000 units in the second quarter of last year, with the six special municipalities accounting for 74.51 percent, according to the bi-annual survey.
The Ministry of Finance has cited declining home vacancy rates to resist calls from lawmakers to impose a hoarding tax on unoccupied homes to help cool the market.
Kinmen County has the highest ratio of unoccupied homes at 17.99 percent, followed by Yilan County at 15.87 percent and Taitung County at 13.87 percent, it said.
Policymakers are under pressure to rein in property prices that are expected to continue climbing due to the rising costs of building materials, central bank Governor Yang Chin-long (楊金龍) said.
The central bank has warned against overleveraging and said it could raise interest rates by 25 basis points this year.
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