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Home hoarding still an issue despite house tax hike ahead

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Citing statistics that revealed hoarding of home properties by individuals and institutions, Taipei City Councilor Wang Hong-wei (王鴻薇) on Monday raised concerns over the government's lack of resolve and inability to produce tangible results in suppressing rampantly rising housing prices.

According to Wang, property ownership records published on Monday unveiled that an individual owning 59 homes and a company in possession of 673 homes are listed among the most affluent homeowners in Taipei City.

In addition, 13.01 percent of Taipei City homeowners were found to have more than two housing properties to their name, with 2.84 percent of the populace owning more than three homes. Statistics also indicate that the number of individuals owning more than eight homes was tallied at 1,241, with 352 companies found to own more than eight homes.

Following the revelation, doubt is rising about the government's ability to suppress surging home prices, despite amendments to the House Tax Act approved yesterday by the Legislative Yuan. Following the change, house tax on non-primary resident home properties unoccupied by the owners will be raised from 1.5 percent to 3.6 percent of the home's current value.

Housing market experts stated that, in light of the rampant hoarding observed among the populace, the tax hike will do little to deter deep-pocketed speculators, despite Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin's (郝龍斌) pledge to mull over a progressive tax scheme. Experts stated that the government instead should tackle the issue by providing public housing, dashing the hopes of Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford and Deputy Taipei City Mayor and Chang Chin-e's (張金鶚) plans to usher in a 30-percent decline in home prices within two years.

Meanwhile, statistics show that at current wage levels, the average citizen would need to save for 15 years excluding the burdens of expenses to be able to afford a home in Taipei City.

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