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Talk of the Day -- Government moving to tackle high property prices

2014/04/23 21:46:42

Taipei Deputy Mayor Chang Chin-oh and Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford (no relation) on Tuesday met to discuss plans to deal with unreasonably high real estate prices in the capital's property market.

The move followed an announcement by Premier Jiang Yi-huah that his Cabinet will seek to lower the price-to-income ratio in greater Taipei from the current 15:1 to 10:1 in just two years. The number represents how many years of income it takes a citizen on average to afford a home.

The two Changs agreed to push for taxing more for non-owner-occupied homes, expanding of the residential rental market, and a complete reform of the real estate holding and transaction tax system to levy taxes according to market prices. They also pledged to further build government housing projects.

The following are excerpts of major local dailies on the issue:

United Daily News:

Lee Tung-rong, the chairman of Taiwan's Chinese Association of Real Estate Brokers, said that for the goal of a 10:1 price-income ratio to be possible in Taipei, home prices will need to tumble by more than 30 percent while household income rises by 50 percent.

He warned that if the average price of a housing unit in the city were reduced by one-third over such a short period, it could cause assets to shrink and even trigger a financial crisis. (April 23, 2014)

China Times:

Civic groups staged a protest Tuesday in front of the Ministry of Finance building, urging the government to start real estate tax reforms along with slogans that demanded a crackdown on house hoarders and a ban on speculation.

Hua Ching-chun, an assistant professor of real estate management and investment at Takming University of Science and Technology, said that he and some 100 experts plan to form an alliance to raise questions about reforms on the part of the government.

Lu Ping-yi, the spokesman of Snails Without Shells, a group for people who cannot afford homes, said that if the government fails to actively respond to their worries, they will launch a street protest in August to mirror the snails without shells movement staged 25 years ago.

Even as the price-income ratio in greater Taipei has surged to 15:1, a survey released Tuesday by the 1111 Job Bank showed that more than 80 percent of respondents said they have not yet managed to save up NT$1 million (US$33,020). These respondents estimated it will take them 11.12 years to reach that target given their low salaries. (April 23, 2014)

(By Evelyn Kao)