No empty seats were seen at the South Korean real estate introduction seminar, held Thursday at the Oxford Palace Hotel in Los Angeles Koreatown. The 250 seats available to attendees were entirely packed.
“I’m nearing retirement,” said Michael Lee, one of the seminar’s attendees. “I was thinking maybe I’ll get myself a home in Korea. I’m going to listen in on the seminar. Then I’ll visit Korea later on and decide if I’m really going to make an investment.”
The South Korean real estate market, after a longstanding stalled progress, is heating up once again. Approximately 500 Korean-Americans attended the two-day seminars, presented by Pyeongchang Ramada Hotel & Suite, on Wednesday and Thursday in L.A. Koreatown and Orange County. Nearly 40 contracts were signed in Orange County alone, according to the host.
Lotte World Tower Signiel Residences, set to become the tallest hotel building, attracted considerable interest from the attendees. A 123-story, 1,821-foot landmark tower will be a six-star hotel from level 76 to 101, while the 42nd to 71st floors will be provided to residents. The total number of units is 223.
“Inquiries have been piling on even though it hasn’t been long since we began advertising and that we still haven’t had an introduction seminar,” said Eric Uh, director at Re/Max Mega Group, the firm that is in charge of leasing Lotte Tower’s residential units. “The high cost makes it difficult to purchase, but there are many people who want to visit the tower to look around.”
Industry expert said that the interest level in real estate in South Korea has not been this high since the mid-2000s, a period that marked the end of the country’s home market bubble. At the time, both commercial and residential real estate were drawing substantial investments from in and outside of Korea. However, the market began to slow down as some construction projects never came to fruition, while some others were revealed as fraud cases.
The market began to rebound as many real estate investors in the United States determined that it is no longer as feasible for them to generate revenue domestically. Combine that with Korean-Americans who are looking to prepare their post-retirement plans by purchasing homes in the motherland, the real estate market in Korea is beginning to resurface again.
“It’s no longer as easy to generate stable income by investing in real estate in the U.S.,” said Edward Son, the president of the U.S. operations of Pyeongchang Ramada Hotel & Suite. “Values have been going up and investors are not anxious, so they’re turning their eyes to Korea.”
Pyeongchang Ramada Hotel & Suite has even provided a perk, guaranteeing a minimum of 8 percent revenue in two years for investors.
“It’s true that Korean real estate was somewhat ignored compared to the U.S. market,” said Jin Chung, president at JC Pine Tree, the real estate developer for the hotel. “That’s because the properties made available weren’t qualified. Now, we’re presenting preapproved properties that ensures stable revenue. We’ve also signed contracts for lodging for the upcoming Winter Olympics, which means the revenue has been completely secured.”
Uh added: “Inquiries are mainly from Korean-Americans who are nearing retirement. The demand for real estate in Korea among them is quite high. I’d assume this level of interest will continue for the time being.”
By Hyun Woo Kim