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Taiwan real estate suffers in August, September

Taiwan's real estate market has suffered major declines after anti-speculative trading regulations requiring the registration of actual transaction prices took effect on Aug. 1.

Transactions nationwide dropped 26 percent in August, and the housing market remained in the doldrums in September, according to the United Evening News.

The sluggishness was particularly obvious in the five special municipalities, with transactions in Taipei — Taiwan's most expensive property market — dropping from 4,215 in July to 3,317 in August and 2,796 in September, the paper cited official figures as showing.

In New Taipei, 7,268 pieces of real estate changed hands in July, but the number decreased to 5,336 in August and 5,210 in September.

Taichung saw transactions go down from July's 4,730 to 3,681 in August and 3,545 in September, while Tainan and Kaohsiung both also suffered drastic declines in August.

Real estate agents said transactions island-wide increased about 10 percent in July as some potential buyers and sellers rushed to close ahead of the implementation of the new regulations. Despite the increase, the property market in Taiwan was still at low levels in July, the agents said.

Observers said it remains to be seen where Taiwan's property market is heading, as the full effects of the new regulations are not yet known.

While the regulations took effect on Aug. 1, authorities will only start making public the price information next week. The Ministry of the Interior's land authorities are expected to publish the prices of all August transactions on Tuesday.

Some observers noted that if the prices turn out to be roughly the same as the current expectations, it means the transactions in the past two months have sufficiently reflected the market conditions.

If the prices turn out to be higher than expected, people will probably want to wait for a few more months before making a move, the observers said.

If the prices are lower than expected, the observers said, the market will swing to the buyers' side, giving them more bargaining chips. But that may deter sellers and cause a chill in the market, the observers added.

Some other observers said Taiwan's property market has peaked, with little chance of seeing another boom in the near future. Unless people's income levels rise significantly, transactions in the property market are unlikely to rebound, they added.

The general public has been eager to find out whether rumored sales of NT$2 million to NT$3 million per ping (36 square feet) in upscale areas in Taipei are real.

A joke making the rounds in Taipei recently says the asking price will scare you to death, but the actual transaction price will make you laugh to death.

According to official figures, as of Oct. 11, about 73,000 pieces of real estate have changed hands since Aug. 1, and 80 percent, or about 59,000 cases, have completed their price registration with the authorities.

The new regulations are meant to make property transactions more transparent, preventing sellers and speculative traders from marking up prices.

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