A building under construction is pictured in Taoyuan on Jan. 10. Photo: Hsu Yi-ping, Taipei Times

By Crystal Hsu / Staff reporter

Housing transactions in Taiwan last year shrank 8.62 percent from a year earlier to 318,101, as economic uncertainty and unfavorable policy measures curbed property fever, brokers said yesterday, citing Ministry of the Interior data.

It was first decline posted in six years, and transactions might continue to drop this year as a ban on transfers of presale purchase agreements would take effect soon, limiting the market to buyers with real demand, H&B Realty Co chief researcher Jessica Hsu (Xu Jiaxin) said.

The trend, if realized, is worrying as the market would be deprived of a major growth catalyst, Hsu said.

The ban cleared the legislature last month. Supplementary details regarding its implementation are needed before it can progress.

Almost all major cities reported declines in property deals, except for Taichung, which recorded a 1.4 percent increase, government data showed.

Deals in Kaohsiung and Tainan declined 17.3 percent and 13.7 percent year-on-year respectively, as fast-growing property prices linked to capacity expansion plans by major technology firms dampened buying interest, Hsu said.

Likewise, transactions in Hsinchu City and Hsinchu County, where home prices have soared over the past few years due to their proximity to the headquarters of high-tech firms, declined 32.8 percent and 11.1 percent respectively, she said.

Transactions in Changhua, Nantou, Pingtung, Yunlin and Tatung counties picked up, thanks to low comparison bases and the areas' relative affordability, Hsu said.

However, Hsu said she is skeptical about continued growth in those counties due to the absence of concrete economic support, adding that Taiwan's low birthrate is also a reason for caution.

Taiwan Realty Co (Taiwan Housing) spokesperson Charlene Chang (Zhang Xulan) said interest rate hikes and the economic slowdown helped weaken overall transactions last year.

Transactions are likely to fall below 300,000 this year, Chang said.

News source: TAIPEI TIMES