Land Minister nominee says housing prices still too high

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Land Minister nominee says housing prices still too high

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Choi Jeong-ho

President Moon Jae-in’s nominee to head the Land Ministry told the National Assembly that housing prices are still too high, signaling a continuation of the administration’s efforts to curb prices.

According to statements submitted to the National Assembly’s Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee prior to his confirmation hearing on March 25, Choi Jeong-ho, the administration’s pick for land minister, said the country’s housing prices are high compared to those of developed countries.

“It is difficult to set a target housing price, but when considering the income level and housing prices, the burden of purchasing a house in Korea is relatively high compared to developed countries,” said Choi. “If I am appointed as minister, I will maintain the [government] direction to stabilize the market in order to reduce the housing burden for the public.”

Housing prices have recently slowed after strong government measures in September last year that included blocking mortgage loans for multiple homeowners. The Korea Appraisal Board’s monthly housing price index has fallen since December last year. The index fell by 0.12 percent last month, compared to a 0.2-percent rise in February last year.

The nominee explained that the housing market has been going through a stabilization process since the September measures, but warned that uncertainties, such as abundant liquidity and expectations surrounding development plans exist.

Choi, who served as the vice transport minister during the Park Geun-hye administration, also outlined plans to expand public rental housing to meet global standards.

“While the government has continuously worked to improve the supply of public rental housing, it is currently lower than the OECD average inventory rate of 8 percent,” said Choi. “I will work to reach a rate of 9 percent by 2022.”

Despite opposition from some of the members of the Democratic Party, the nominee also said that he supports the construction of the new Gimhae Airport.

Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don and Ulsan Mayor Song Cheol-ho - both from the ruling party - requested a reconsideration of the construction plan in a press conference on Sunday.


BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]

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