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New target in real estate war: Online collusion

Complaints about property wrongdoings on the internet soar

Sept 15,2018
A day after the government unveiled a series of measures to rein in an overheated real estate market, Kim Dong-yeon, chief economic policymaker, threatened to take even stronger measures if this set doesn’t work.

Kim, minister of finance and economy, said Friday that the government could push ahead with new bills that will punish those who collude to raise apartment prices. Amid soaring apartment prices across the country in the past several months despite the government’s repeated attempt to cool the market off, alleged collusion between prospective home buyers and speculators on the internet has become an issue.

“Spreading rumors about false prices for apartments or colluding over real estate prices are an act of disturbing the market,” Kim said in a radio show Friday morning. “If the current measures don’t work, the government may consider legislation of a new bill to deal with it more powerfully.”

Real estate traders are known to commonly use community bulletin boards on portals such as Naver and mobile chat rooms such as KakaoTalk. Some apartment complex residents have been actively getting involved in discussions.

They set a target price for their homes and make false reports to authorities about real estate agencies that offer lower prices than they want. Some groups of homeowners have been pressuring certain real estate agencies by collectively refusing to sell any of their properties through them unless they got higher offers for them.

The Korea Internet Self-governance Organization, a private organization consisting of internet companies that voluntarily monitor wrongdoings over the internet, said it received 21,824 reports of false offers for apartments in August, nearly six times more than the same month last year.

The Land Ministry said the statistic is attributable to speculators’ monkey business.

According to the Thursday measures - the eighth in a series since the Moon Jae-in administration was inaugurated - the government will hike the tax burden on owners of multiple houses and high-priced apartments. The taxable rate of a property, which used to be 80 percent of the government-set value, will also be raised.

The rate should climb to 100 percent by 2022, more aggressive than a plan released in July to increase the ratio to 90 percent by 2020.

On the same day, Lee Hae-chan, chairman of the ruling Democratic Party, condemned real estate speculation, saying the government should come up with “much stronger measures” if the market gets turbulent again.

“The biggest problem with Korea is that people have obtained labor-less income through real estate,” he said. “It’s a wrong practice that puts a lot of people in trouble.”

But reaction from opposition parties was the opposite. Hong Joon-pyo, former chairman of the major opposition Liberty Korea Party, said the Moon administration’s policies aimed at raising funds for welfare spending and North Korea by raising taxes from real estate “isn’t desirable for the future of the country.”


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]


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