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Chinese top foreign buyers of Korean real estate

An aerial view of an apartment complex in Seoul (Yonhap)
An aerial view of an apartment complex in Seoul (Yonhap)
Amid the steady growth of property ownership by foreign nationals in South Korea, Chinese acquisition of real estate ranked first for the ninth consecutive year, industry data showed Tuesday.

According to data from real estate app company Zigbang, foreign-owned real estate accounted for 0.69 percent of the total property purchases across the nation, as of August, continuing an upward trend from 2010, when it posted 0.2 percent.

Among the foreign buyers, Chinese purchased the largest volume of properties, the company said. The percentage of their real estate ownership hovered between 60 and 70 percent of the total foreign-owned properties from 2017 to this month.

Since 2013, when the same figure reached 36.48 percent, Chinese have secured first place in terms of property purchases in Asia’s fourth-largest economy, the firm said.

The majority of property purchases by Chinese investors between 2017-2021 were made in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province as well as Incheon’s Bupyeong district, just west of Seoul.

Meanwhile, the portion of real estate purchases by investors from the US, who used to hold more than 50 percent of the total foreign-owned properties in 2010, dropped to below 10 percent.

“As China’s economic growth picked up speed, a growing number of the nation’s investors have turned an eye to foreign markets, especially bordering countries like South Korea,” a Jikbang official said.

With Chinese money flowing into the local housing market, concerns are growing over potential speculative housing transactions by foreign investors, who can borrow money overseas to buy homes in Korea to avoid the government’s tough regulations on mortgage loans.

“The volume of foreigners’ property transactions accounts for a small proportion of total real estate transactions across the nation. However, considering an upward trend in real estate ownership, the local financial authorities should come up with preemptive measures to ease market concerns over their possible speculative buying spree that may add fuel to the current overheated housing market,” the official added.

By Choi Jae-hee (cjh@heraldcorp.com)
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