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JoongAngDaily
Local land sold overseas - South Korea - Housing


Weak won drives boom in foreign purchases of Korean soil



In December, the Korean-American president of a multinational company asked Billion RE, a real estate agency in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, about lucrative properties he could buy as an individual.

He said he grew interested in real estate investment in Korea due to the weakening of the value of the won, which was among the world¡¯s worst performing currencies last year.

The agency recommended a commercial site in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul. The buyer decided to defer the purchase until March, when the Korean currency fell below 1,600 against the greenback.

¡°Many foreigners, including gyopo [foreigners of Korean descent and Korean emigrants], called us to find properties for them this year,¡± said Kim Joo-youn, the head of the real estate agency. ¡°The exchange rate is the single biggest factor for it, I think.¡±

According to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs yesterday, the amount of land owned by foreigners increased 1.7 percent during the first three months of the year, mostly thanks to a rise in investment driven by the weakening won.

As of the end of March, non-Koreans owned 213.9 million square meters of Korean land, worth 29.7 trillion won ($23.34 billion). That¡¯s about 35 percent the size of Seoul, 25.2 times the size of Yeouido, the nation¡¯s finance hub, and almost equal the area of Jeonju, capital of North Jeolla Province.


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