Apartment sizes in Korea start to go ‘in-between’

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Apartment sizes in Korea start to go ‘in-between’

Mr. Kim, 50, has been busy trying to sell his 84-square-meter (904-square-foot) apartment to move to a bigger place. At first, he was considering buying a 113-square-meter apartment. Recently, he has changed his mind after seeing a 96-square-meter apartment model.

The smaller apartment is 100 million won ($86,000) or so cheaper.

“Until now, I thought the next size apartment from the one I’m living in would be a 113-square-meter apartment,” Kim said. “I was surprised to learn that there were apartments between 84 square meters and 113 square meters.”

Mr. Park, 46, has recently been considering scaling down from the 84-square-meter apartment he and his family have occupied for 15 years. He has chosen a 74-square-meter apartment instead of the traditional 59-square-meter unit.

Construction companies are increasing the number of apartments that break with the standard sizes of the past, which are 59 square meters, 84 square meters and 113 square meters. In-between apartment sizes are gaining popularity as they are cheaper yet spacious.

In the past, apartments were categorized as small if they were 60 square meters or smaller; midsize if between 60 square meters and 85 square meters; and large if over 85 square meters. Unifying the size of apartments makes it much easier for them to build and market apartments.

Even today, 59-square-meter apartments and 84-square-meter apartments dominate in Korea.

Since the global financial meltdown of late 2008, homebuyers have shied away from large apartments, and the in-between sizes started to become more common.

According to Real Today, a real estate information provider, in the first four months of 2014, in-between-size apartments that are smaller than 101 square meters accounted for 23.6 percent of all apartments sold. This year, that figure grew to 28.1 percent.

Demand for smaller apartments was particularly high. Sales of apartments between 72 square meters and 75 square meters accounted for 54 percent of all sales.

Apartment complexes with lots of in-between-size units have been popping up.

Bando Ubora 6 cha apartment in Gimpo, Gyeonggi, which started preconstruction sales earlier this month, offers apartment that are either 72 square meters or 78 square meters.

In a recent preconstruction sale in Siheung, Gyeonggi, bidders for 74-square-meter apartments outnumbered available units by a ratio of 5 to 1, while the ration for traditional 84-square-meter apartments was only 2.2 to 1. In addition, although the official size of the apartment may be 74 square meters, due to new construction designs that maximize the usage of space, the practical size of the apartment can be even larger than an 84-square-meter unit.

In fact, an apartment in Anseong, Gyeonggi, officially has a size of 74 square meters, but the actual space adds up to 95.3 square meters.

BY AHN JANG-WON [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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