Cabinet approves new measures to curb real estate speculation

Taipei, April 7 (CNA) The Cabinet on Thursday approved draft legal amendments to rein in real estate speculation, including raising the maximum fine for illegal speculation from NT$5 million (US$173,305) to NT$50 million.

In a press release, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) said the proposed amendments to the Equalization of Lands Rights Act would tighten restrictions on transactions involving pre-sold houses.

In recent years, investors have flocked to purchase pre-sold houses and then quickly re-sell them at a profit, thus driving up real estate prices across the market.

Under the Cabinet’s proposal, the government would prohibit the re-selling of purchase agreements for pre-sold or newly constructed houses to third parties, except to a person’s spouse and first- or second-degree relatives, the MOI said.

Housing developers would also be prohibited from assisting buyers wishing to transfer or re-sell their purchase agreements, with violators liable for fines ranging from NT$500,000 to NT$3 million, according to the ministry.

The plan would also clamp down on the spreading of false pricing or sales volume information, as well as the use of illegal sales practices, with the intent to drive up real estate prices, the ministry said.

These activities would become punishable by fines of NT$1 million to NT$50 million — up from the current maximum of NT$5 million — and could be imposed multiple times if the illegal behavior continues, the MOI said.

Another element of the proposal would try to engage the public, by creating a mechanism for people to report illegal real estate transactions or the disclosure of false sales data, according to the ministry.

If accusations of illegal activities are confirmed by city or country government authorities, the person who made the report would be eligible to receive a portion of the fine collected, the MOI said.

Meanwhile, the plan would require private companies and foundations to receive permission before purchasing residential properties, and would prohibit them from transferring their ownership for a period of five years, according to the ministry.

Finally, in situations where a purchase agreement for a pre-sold house is dissolved, the housing developer will be required to report the cancellation within 30 days, or face a fine of NT$30,000 to NT$150,000 per property, the ministry said. In theory, this will increase pricing transparency, as the details of such purchases are publicly disclosed in the government’s “actual price registration system.”

Despite the government’s ongoing efforts to crack down on real estate speculation, sales data shows that housing prices in Taiwan have continued to rise in recent years.

According to data collected by Taiwan’s 591 real estate website, the average price per ping (1 ping = 3.3 square meters) in Taiwan rose 32.8 percent between 2017 and 2021, from around NT$201,000 to NT$267,000.

In contrast, average monthly earnings — which cover regular salary and irregular income such as overtime pay and bonuses — rose only 11.5 percent during that period, from NT$49,989 to NT$55,574, according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics.

The measures will be submitted to the Legislature for final approval.

(By Lai Yu-chen and Matthew Mazzetta)


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