Koreans living overseas are investing more in real estate in Korea after a slowdown last year. According to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs on Wednesday, overseas Koreans bought W507.3 billion (US$1=W1,076) worth of real estate here in the first quarter, up about 70 percent from W297.2 billion in the fourth quarter last year.
After it peaked at W862.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009, overseas Koreans invested between W100 billion and 300 billion in property here on average each quarter last year.
Investments by Korean Americans account for more than two thirds of the total at W355.4 billion. Residential real estate made up the largest proportion with 659 apartments, 207 standalone houses and 214 other kinds of homes, which took up about 60 percent of the total 1,917 purchases of the property in the first three months.
The increase is attributed to the deflated housing bubble, which has led to a relatively stable housing market, and the cheap won.
Korean residents in Japan are also turning to investment in Korea because they can buy more won for their yen and they are looking for safer places after the massive earthquake and tsunami there.
Koh Jun-suk of Shinhan Bank said, "Many Korean residents in Japan are interested in buying homes or commercial space in lucrative shopping malls in Korea."
But most overseas Koreans apparently want to buy homes where they can live after retirement rather than assets with future profits in mind.
An executive with estate agency NewStar Global said, "Many Korean Americans want to buy apartments or standalone houses worth W300-500 million to live in two or three years down the line. They prefer suburban to downtown Seoul, and some are buying homes in the provinces."