Price puts ownership out of reach for many

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 May, 2008, 12:00am

A sharp rise in property prices in Taipei is putting home-ownership beyond the reach of many buyers, and critics warn a property price bubble may be emerging.

Akira, who has worked for an advertising company in Taipei since he came to the city from Japan five years ago, said developers had focused on bringing new luxury residential projects to the market for the past few years.

'It is impossible to find a flat now priced at about NT$8,000 [HK$2,026] to NT$9,000 per square foot unless it is in a remote area. There are many professionals like me who cannot afford to upgrade to a bigger flat,' he said.

Simon Yang, an account manager at a high-tech firm, said his salary only allowed him to rent an apartment.

'I moved to Taipei from the southern part of Taiwan several years ago to look for a better job. Now I earn more but buying a home is just a dream for us because property prices move up almost every month,' he said.

In comments that sparked fierce debate last month National Chengchi University professor Chang Chin-oh warned that a bubble was building in the property market and recommended that home seekers postpone buying for the next 12 months.

Mr Chang said average home prices had risen 50 per cent to NT$14,929 per square foot since late 2005, while personal incomes had risen only 2 per cent.

Local media reported that he had received threats warning him to shut up or risk being attacked by hitmen.

He said it was not appropriate to ease restrictions on mainland investment in Taipei for fear this would accelerate the growth of property prices.