[EDITORIALS]Hard luck in housing

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[EDITORIALS]Hard luck in housing

With the onrush of families moving at the end of summer, there is reportedly a shortage of houses out for lease on a deposit basis in the Seoul vicinity. Small-sized, affordable apartment units for low-income families are especially hard to find. Along with the shortage, the deposit amounts are also getting higher. Last week, the average deposit amount for apartment units in Seoul rose 0.19 percent, far more than the 0.11 percent rise the week before.
While this shortage is already causing anxiety among families who have yet to find a new home, it could also lead to overall instability in house prices.
According to the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, the upward trend in deposit amounts in Seoul and its vicinity is due to seasonal elements. The ministry states that the deposit amounts are expected to stabilize starting in October.
Unfortunately, the shortage of houses for lease on a deposit basis is a far more complex and deep-rooted problem that that, and it should not be taken lightly.
First, the number of new houses available has been declining. In October, only 1,794 households were able to move into new houses in Seoul, half of the number one year ago. Real estate experts say the shortage in new houses could continue for the next two or three years. This is the result of a decrease in new apartments for sale after real estate regulations were tightened in October 2003. In addition, many house owners are now opting to put their houses out for monthly rent rather than on a deposit basis.
With fewer houses out for lease on a deposit basis, the situation is aggravated by the fact that there are now even more families looking for houses on deposit-basis leases. High house prices and escalating real estate taxes mean that many families are forced to lease rather than buy and own their own homes.
Instead of just passing this off as a temporary phenomenon, the government should carefully assess the market situation. The government’s failed real estate policies have only made housing prices rise. It should at least make it easier for families to lease housing units on a deposit basis if they wish to. The ultimate solution is to build new houses in areas that people actually want to live in. The government should seriously ponder the reason there is a plethora of empty housing units in urban areas and a shortage of units out for lease on a deposit basis in the Seoul vicinity.
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