Lawmakers yesterday passed revisions aimed at curbing speculation in the property market, including the introduction of a repeatable NT$50 million (US$1.64 million) fine for market manipulators, in a bid to bring down the nation’s high house prices.
The amendments to the Equalization of Land Rights Act (平均地權條例) were passed with all lawmakers present voting in favor of the revisions.
One of the key revisions prohibits the reselling or transfer of purchase agreements for presale or newly constructed residential units to third parties, long considered a loophole that encourages speculation.
Photo: Liao Cheng-hui, Taipei Times
In presale residential housing developments it is common practice for interested buyers to reserve the right to purchase a housing unit by placing a deposit and receiving a “purchase order” that includes an agreed-upon price.
The purchase agreements can then be “flipped” to other buyers when the price of the units go up as the presale process proceeds, a tactic speculators have used to make sizeable profits.
Under the amendments, the practice is prohibited unless the purchase agreement is transferred to a person’s spouse or first or second-degree relative, or in situations to be defined by the Ministry of the Interior.
People who breach the rule would be subject to a fine of NT$500,000 to NT$3 million, with the penalty also applying to realtors who help people resell or transfer purchase agreements.
In situations where a purchase agreement for a presale house is dissolved, the property developer is required to report the cancelation within 30 days or face a fine of NT$30,000 to NT$150,000 per unit.
The revisions also set specific penalties for people who manipulate the real-estate market or earn a profit by spreading false information about house prices, collude with others to fake transactions, overstate the number of houses sold or engage in illegal transactions.
Those who engage in such behavior would be subject to a fine of between NT$1 million and NT$50 million depending on the number of transactions, and the fine can be repeated.
Another key revision prohibits private entities from reselling, transferring or appointing a future receiver of a property within five years of purchasing it.
Private entities also need to present a proposal for property use to their respective governing authority and gain its approval before they can purchase a residential unit.
The amendments also establish a reward mechanism for people who report illegal transactions or actual transaction prices that have not been accurately registered, paying informants a certain share of the fines collected.
Also adopted was a motion sponsored by the Democratic Progressive Party caucus to simplify the application process to have buildings included in urban renewal projects or for private entities when they purchase houses to be used as dormitories. Under the motion, reviews of such applications shall not, in principle, exceed seven working days.
The amended act also revises the makeup of land evaluation committees at the local government level, raising the representation of experts and members of civil groups to at least 50 percent while eliminating the presence of elected local officials and “other types of impartial individuals.”
The amendments are to be sent to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to be signed into law.
The number of houses purchased by private entities increased from 10,219 in 2019 to 17,779 in 2021, which sparked concern about people engaging in house flipping through private entities, which previously did not face any restrictions when buying properties.
Acting Minister of the Interior Hua Ching-chun (花敬群) said in a statement that the amendments were aimed at deterring house flipping and bringing order to the housing market.
CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT: A new committee would investigate a backlog of US weapons sales to Taiwan, said its chairman, US Representative Mike Gallagher The US should formally recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, and end its outdated and counterproductive “one China” policy, US Representative Tom Tiffany and 18 other US lawmakers wrote in a petition. “It is time to change the status quo and recognize the reality denied by the US government for decades: Taiwan is an independent nation,” Tiffany told the Epoch Times. “As our long-standing and valued partner, correctly acknowledging their independence from communist China is long overdue.” The resolution also asks the administration of US President Joe Biden to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations and to negotiate a bilateral free-trade
The Pentagon is preparing for US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy to visit Taiwan later this year, Punchbowl News reported on Monday, citing an official directly involved in the talks. US administration officials anticipate McCarthy would visit Taiwan some time in the spring, the report said. McCarthy had previously pledged to visit Taiwan if he became House speaker. He was elected speaker earlier this month. He had also said that he would have liked to join then-US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s delegation when she visited Taiwan in August last year. Pelosi’s 19-hour visit to Taipei marked the first time in 25 years
Taiwan’s Chou Chieh-yu (周婕妤) was crowned the Kamui WPA Women’s World 9-Ball Champion after shutting out British pool titan Allison Fisher 9-0 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the organizers said on Sunday. Following the championship win at Harrah’s Resort and Casino Atlantic City, Chou pocketed US$30,000 and became the first female competitor to hold both the 9-ball and 10-ball world titles since Briton Kelly Fisher in 2012. Chou, 36, won the Predator World Women’s 10-Ball Championship in Austria in September last year after clinching a silver medal at last year’s World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, in July. “I’m very excited and it’s like
JOINT OPERATIONS: Participating in the IMET program, which offers professional training and education to military personnel, would boost Taiwan’s defense capabilities The US government is appropriating funding to help Taiwan participate in its International Military Education & Training (IMET) program to enhance interoperability and capabilities for joint operations of the Taiwanse and US militaries. The funding for Taiwan’s participation in the program is mentioned in the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2023, a US$1.7 trillion spending bill funding the US federal government for the fiscal year 2023. It covers funding for military support for Ukraine, defense spending and regions affected by natural disasters. The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) told the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) that IMET is an important US