Real-estate investors are snapping up deals in anticipation of a more pro-business candidate winning Taiwan's presidential election next month. While both presidential hopefuls are talking up tax cuts to encourage overseas investments, the Kuomintang candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, is promising renewed trade links with China. Analysts hope the election will bring in a pro-economy president to reverse the current president Chen Shui-bianÆs isolationist policies.

ôTaiwan canÆt possibly head any lower,ö says Stephen Yuen, chief executive of HSBC-NF Investment Specialist, a property investment group. ôThis could be a good time to start hunting for opportunities in Taiwan.ö Although recovery looks imminent, he notes it will be several years before Taiwan will fully climb itself out of the present gloom.

According to Jeffrey Hurren, head of Taiwan research at Jones Lang Lasalle, foreign investors are already buying their way into the islandÆs office markets, in anticipation for the renewed business ties.

GE Real Estate, an affiliate of GE Capital, has recently opened an office in Taipei and budgeted $310 million in invest in the Greater Taipei AreaÆs offices in the next two years. It kicked this off with the purchase of the 12-storey HCG Building on Nanjing East Road from the Hocheng Group for NT$10 billion ($21.18 million).

Citigroup Property Investors has also recently paid NTD14.5 billion ($140.5 million) for four buildings in the Beihu Technology Park, while Citadel Group has acquired the grade-A Aegon Building for NTD5.2 billion ($162 million).

Yuen says low-priced opportunities in the TaipeiÆs land abound currently, and that there are also opportunities to redevelop the cityÆs more aged districts. Investors bullish on the mainland ties are looking into grade-A office space, which will see a stretched demand because of under-investments over the past decade.

Yuen is most upbeat on the prospects in the tourism industry, which he says will be first of the key sectors to benefit from improved cross-strait relations.

An up-and-coming tourist destination is Yilan. According to Taiwan Tourism BureauÆs data, major hotel chains, such as Spring International, Regent Hotel, Sheraton and Shangri-La, have signed up to develop properties in that county. Between 2008 and 2009, these international groups will bring in some 842 new rooms.

Jeffrey Hurren at Jones Lang Lasalle reckons Yilan is well situated for further growth upon a regulation easing for mainland tourists to visit Taiwan.

Situated in the northern region outside of the island, and a ride away from the capital city Taipei, Yilan boasts a unique mix of hot and cold spring. It saw a 50% increase in total visitor number was recorded last year, at 1.3 million. The new Hsuehshan Tunnel connecting Taipei to the county was recently opened to cater the tourist boom.

Having spent the past few years missing out on the post-tech economic boom in Asia, TaiwanÆs economy is currently at one of the lowest trough in its history. MasterCard says Taiwanese consumers are scoring 29.7 points out of 100 on the islandÆs economic outlook; while the Manpower Group, says in its latest research Taiwan is the worst job market for the sixth year in a roll in the Asia Pacific region. It's statistics like these which have property investors confident the island has hit bottom.