Real estate Big Brother

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Real estate Big Brother

 Ruling Democratic Party (DP) members, including Rep. Jin Sung-joon, proposed a bill on the real estate trade and service industry. The bill could be the outline of the soon-to-come 24th set of real estate measures by the government since it was coordinated with the Land Ministry and the DP. The bill aims to stabilize the heated real estate market. But the proposed means is extreme.

The keystone is the establishment of a supervisory agency keeping watch on real estate deals. The so-called “real estate trade analysis agency” will have access to individual financing and tax records behind a real estate purchase. The act of urging others not to offer an asset below a certain price on online communities could also become subject to penalty. A colluding act could face a jail term of up to two years or a fine of 20 million won ($17,930).

Can such regulations exist in a society of free economy and democracy? A real estate trade watchdog cannot be found anywhere in the world. State interference should be restricted to taxation and loan regulation. Such comparable state price control institutions could be the fair price supervisory service under the Chavez government in Venezuela.

Keeping watch on online community postings to control free expression is an appalling thought. Apartment residents should not publicly campaign to keep their property value up to a certain level. But regulating online postings and individual opinions is censorship and oppression of free expression.

The Moon Jae-in administration has trotted out a whopping 23 set of real estate measures. None of them worked out as hoped because they were primarily aimed at controlling demand through tax hikes and loan regulation instead of meeting demand with supply. As a result, housing prices are sky high and rent also extremely high. Even Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Hong Nam-ki himself had to reward a tenant to send the family out so that he could sell his second home to follow government guidelines. Still, the government and ruling party find fault with the market, not their policy. They refuse to accept the grim reality even as polls showed two-thirds of the people disapprove of the government’s real estate policy.

They are out to enact a law that cannot be accepted in a democracy and free economy. They are proposing to keep watch and restrict individual rights to properties and free expression. Stigmatizing multi-homeowners as speculators and stoking conflict between those with homes and without cannot help but stabilize the housing market. What they should do first is find what went wrong and how before it’s too late.

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