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Apartments in Taipei are available starting at about 1000NTD a ping. One ping is roughly 3 square meters. The golden rule for signing a contract is, what you see is what you get. Do not expect the landlord to renovate for you. Additional costs like elevator and security guards are often not included in the contract but are expected from you to be paid. Always make sure you know how much these extra costs will be. If you care for privacy, and I assume you do, you must spend another 3000 NTD for a new lock. Most contracts include a two month deposit. The moving-in fee will be three month rent in total.

The contract consists of a small booklet. You can buy those in most Chinese bookstores. If you or the landlord makes any changes to it, every single change has to be signed over it. Here in Taiwan contracts are signed with a stamp and your handwritten signature. If no stamp is available a fingerprint will do.
If you are settled here in Taiwan and intend to buy an apartment, you most likely have to do this with an agency. There are some things to consider when dealing with them. If you like a place, they are very quick asking you to sign some papers. Do not sign anything unless you are sure that you really want to buy that place, and you agreed on the price already. Otherwise you will ow the house owner a compensation for backing out of the contract. The agencies take commission based on the selling price. The house owner has to pay most of this commission fee.
You also must check the household registration office first to see who really owns the place and if there are other parties involved making claims. Make sure to check the ratio of living space to the ground you own. This has some importances for the taxes and implications in the event of a complete building destruction.

ShinYi is one of these agencies you can go to when looking for an apartment. They will take care of pretty much everything including notary and financing through local banks. The down payment required is 30 percent. Interest rates are between 1.7 and 3.7 percent on a 20 years contract. The minimum size to be financed through banks is 15 pings right now. This went up from previous 10 pings because too many people where speculating on the rising real-estate prices. The real-estate prices went from 150 000NTD per ping in 2004 to more than 370 000NTD in 2011. They are not expected to fall anytime soon.


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