September 12, 2018 13:20
Price-fixing is rampant in real estate sales, mostly led by chat rooms on social media as apartment prices in Seoul continue to soar.
Owners team up on social media to artificially hike the prices of properties in their area, while estate agents snoop around them for potential sellers. This has prompted authorities to monitor the chatrooms they can find to crack down on potential illegality.
The most common practice is ensuring that apartments up for sale are advertised at an inflated price. Users of chatrooms snitch on estate agents that advertise apartments at a lower price than theirs. Some malicious users then accuse them of posting fake properties and report them to regulators.
According to the Korea Internet Self-Governance Organization, a record 21,824 cases of fake property ads were reported in August, up three-fold compared to July. That increase is too high to be simply due to increased vigilance and more likely to be the result of malicious reporting.
But apartment owners argue that estate agents are the ones colluding to slash apartment prices for a quick sale. One estate agent said, "Both home owners and agents are rushing to make a quick buck since apartment prices have soared abnormally recently, and online chatrooms have fanned this fervor."
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