Friday, May 19, 2006

A house in the Hamptons

The South Korean government is taking significant steps to liberalize foreign exchange trade, a move that is expected to expand opportunities for Koreans seeking to buy property abroad.

The Ministry of Finance and Economy said it would move forward the government's deadline for currency market liberalization by two years, to 2009, in an effort to control the won's rise against the dollar. From that time, ROK citizens will be allowed to invest up to US$1 million in property overseas. Right now they are restricted to buying overseas for residential purposes only.

As more people choose to invest in business property or second or third homes abroad, I suppose that might take some of the heat out of the feverish real-estate speculation that goes on in Korea, centered around overvalued places like Kangnam. Just remember: to maintain a high resale value, the kimchi refrigerator goes in the
garage, not the kitchen.

Foreign investors will also be able to obtain 10 billion won (about US$10 million) in loans, up from 1 billion won (about US$1 million).

There are a number of other significant changes, so read the entire story. I'm a medical sociologist, not an economist, so everything I've said up to now may be misguided. Except for the part about setting up the kimchi refrigerator in the garage. You'll thank me later.

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