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May 29, 2017

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With new database, realty prices finally transparent

TAIPEI -- A new database was launched yesterday that posts the actual prices of real estate transactions in Taiwan, and it immediately revealed that property prices in the upscale Xinyi District are the highest in Taiwan.

The service, which will list the prices of all properties transacted in Taiwan after Aug. 1 with a two-month lag, was launched yesterday at midnight.

The response was so enthusiastic that nearly 3,000 hits were recorded in under five minutes, almost paralyzing the website.

The property in the database fetching the highest price, located in Xinyi District, sold for NT$238 million, or an average of NT$1.3 million per ping (3.3 square meters), the online service showed.

Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan said yesterday the ministry will keep a close eye on whether registered prices actually reflect real market prices as required.

"Should prices be registered falsely, violators will be heavily fined," Lee said. Taiwan's property market has long been opaque, with transaction prices not publicly known and real estate taxes assessed on government-appraised values that are generally far lower than market prices.

To address the problem, and also combat ever-rising housing prices by creating greater price transparency, the government has required property transactions and their actual prices to be registered since Aug. 1.

The launching of the public database was the next step in the process.

As of Oct. 12, about 59,000 property transactions were registered, of which 16,000 were made publicly available in the database on Tuesday, according to the ministry.

Hsiao Fu-tao, the director of the ministry's Department of Land Administration, said the public database works on a two-month lag, with property transactions from a certain month being shown in the database two months later on the 16th.

Information on properties bought and sold in August, for example, were included in the database on Oct. 16, Hsiao said.

The database also provides other details on transacted properties, including their location, transaction dates, and whether they have parking spaces, said Vice Interior Minister Chien Tai-lang.

The service can be accessed on Android smartphones through a special app, Chien said, and an app for Apple iOS users will be launched in the near future.

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