Record 89,133 condos hit market

Condominium builders put a record 89,133 condos on the market in fiscal 1999, responding to brisk demand induced by low mortgage rates and a government policy giving large tax breaks to mortgage takers, a research institute said Thursday.

The figure for the 12-month period through March 31 exceeded the previous record, set in fiscal 1995, by 3,800 units, said the Real Estate Economic Institute, which began tracking new condo sales in 1972.

Meanwhile, the number of condos offered for sale in the January-March period of this year came to 22,819 units, a record for a fiscal fourth quarter, the institute said.

“The number of condos to be supplied will tend to increase down the road, because builders will scramble to put new condos on the market, especially during May’s Golden Week holiday period, thanks to the government policy extending the eligibility period for the tax break until June next year,” an institute analyst said.

The supply of condos in the Tokyo area rose in the 18 months through February, backed by a government program of tax breaks to people who take out mortgages.

Although the period of eligibility for the tax break was initially limited to those who move in by the end of December this year, it was later extended until the end of June next year.

In the month of March, the number of condos put on sale in the Tokyo area fell 5.9 percent over the year before to 9,083 units, the first fall in 19 months.

But the institute dismissed the fall as a one-off phenomenon, saying it came in reaction to consumers’ rush to buy condos in March last year. That rush reflected expectations that the government-funded Housing Loan Corp. would increase lending rates.

Of the condos put on sale in March this year, 81.6 percent found buyers, up 2.4 percentage points from the year before.

The average price of condos offered in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures, such as Kanagawa and Chiba, was 39.98 million yen.

Inside Tokyo’s 23 wards, the average price was 45.6 million yen.

Meanwhile, in Osaka and five other prefectures in the Kinki region, the number of condos offered in fiscal 1999 totaled 36,666 units, the fourth-highest figure to date, the institute said.