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Yoon offers tax cut, more jeonse loans in 1st housing measures

An apartment complex in Eojin-dong, Sejong, around the government complex (The Korea Herald)
An apartment complex in Eojin-dong, Sejong, around the government complex (The Korea Herald)
SEJONG -- The Yoon Suk-yeol administration on Tuesday unveiled the first batch of its real estate measures that offer lowering tax burdens for first-time homeowners and expanding tax deductions for tenants, taking the first step to realize its campaign pledge to “normalize” the housing market.

The government will come up with detailed measures for the supply of 2.5 million homes and more no later than August.

At a joint briefing, First Vice Minister of Economy and Finance Bang Ki-sun said the measures are aimed at “normalization” of the market, rather than price stabilization. He said home prices have been stabilized amid rising interest rates and policies inducing multiple home owners’ active selling.

“(In past years), regulations-centered policies and imbalance between demand and supply in major regions had distorted the real estate market,” he said.

The government also vowed to lift the presale price cap imposed on private apartments and offer up to 180 million won ($139,211) per loan for those who opt for new “jeonse” contracts before their four-year contracts expire. The range of a jeonse loan is currently limited to 120 million won. Jeonse is a housing lease system unique to Korea whereby tenants pay a lump-sum deposit instead of monthly rent on a two-year contract.

With the eased regulation, owners of one home who took out mortgages at speculation-prone districts to buy a new home are allowed to continue to own their previous home for up to two years, officials said. The former administration obliged them to sell their previous homes within six months.

Though they will temporarily become two-home owners in this arrangement, the taxation authority would not levy aggravated taxes on them during the two-year grace period. Officials said this will also be beneficial in terms of protecting the tenants’ rights by giving sufficient time for movement.

To ease the tax burden, first-time home buyers will enjoy an exemption from the property acquisition tax up to 2 million won, regardless of their annual income and property price. They will only be subject to taxes exceeding 2 million won in proportion to their property price.

Officials predicted that the number of beneficiaries (households) for the eased rule will be extended to 256,000 per year from 123,000. The previous administration offered the benefit only to low-income households, who buy relatively-low priced apartments.

For housing supply, the Land Ministry said it would announce details on providing more than 2.5 million apartment units across the country in July or August. The supply policy was a main campaign pledge of President Yoon earlier this year.

The government also plans to unveil another supply plan for newlyweds and young people with arrangement details by this August or September.

Officials said the government-led designation of speculation-prone areas -- such as all of the 25 districts in Seoul and Sejong -- will also be announced later this month with some adjustments.

In addition, policymakers plan to revise the system of placing a cap on initial apartment prices, which had brought about a variety of problems and conflicts due to a wide price gap with neighboring apartments.

The cap on initial home prices had frustrated builders. Despite a spike in construction materials, they were not entitled to raise home prices due to the regulation.

The financial authority will move to arrange state-led loan products, which will relieve low-income households of their interest burden amid a spike in benchmark rates.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)
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