Newspapers with Housing Listings
- Chosun Ilbo (Korean, daily, approx. 2,000 won)
- The Korea Herald (English, daily, approx. 2,000 won)
- The Korea Times (English, daily, approx. 2,000 won)
- Joong Ang Ilbo (Korean, daily, approx. 2,000 won)
English newspapers in Seoul will have some listings, but you find the best listings in Korean newspapers. If you can’t speak Korean, have a Korean speaking friend or coworker go over the Korean listings with you. Finding apartments in the newspaper can be good and bad. Good because you might be able to deal directly with your landlord instead of having to go through a real estate agent, and bad because you might run into more problems without a real estate agent (it’s sad but true – in many ways, expats are dependent on realtors to help with the ins and outs of Korean real estate).
Housing Websites for Seoul
- Craigslist Seoul: http://seoul.craigslist.co.kr/
- Nearsubway.com: http://www.nearsubway.com/
- Seoul Life: http://www.seoulife.com/
English Speaking Real Estate Agents in Seoul
There are now 160 registered real estate agents in Seoul to help expats with this crucial step in their moving experience. Choosing a neighborhood is the first priority, as each agent only services a certain “gu”, and sometimes only very specific areas within that “gu”. About 80% of the real estate agents for foreigners are in the Yongsan-gu area. Visit http://english.seoul.go.kr/lh/residence/housing.php?pidx=5 to find contact info for residential agents in each district of Seoul:
Top Real Estate Service: Offers real estate services in English and has been in operation for over ten years. They offer investment services, property analysis and management, sale and rental services and for both commercial and residential properties.
Seoul Housing Realty Consulting: Headed by Richard Kim, Seoul Housing Realty Consulting offers pre-arrival, post-arrival and relocation services throughout Seoul.
Rex Realty Services: Offers full services in English. Located in Heabongchon (Youngsan-gu), but has contacts through out all of Youngsan-gu. Rex offers before and after services and will even pick you up at the airport!
Address: 5-756, Yongsan-dong 2ga, Yongsan–gu, Seoul Tel: 02-790-8833, FAX: 02-790-8837
If you opt to work with a real estate agent, which is what most expats decide to do, you should know that there are agencies in every neighbourhood in Seoul. While most don’t speak English or work with foreigners, there are always some that do. Even if the realtor doesn’t speak English, you can work with him/her if you have a Korean friend or coworker come along for meetings and viewings with you.
Just remember, while the realtor will help you find a place to live, they will also try to get the maximum amount of money possible from you, because they work on commission. There is a limit on the amount of commission they can receive and they will do whatever they can to get the maximum amount from your transaction. Generally, the realtor’s commission comes from about 0.5% of the rental rate or 1% of any purchase price.
If, at any time, you feel you would like to change realtors and go in a different direction, you can do so. This is another reason Korean realtors will do all they can to close a deal with you. If you aren’t happy they are simply wasting their time since they don’t get paid until you sign a lease.
Realtors in Seoul act mainly as a go between for you, the buyer/renter and the landlord. It is the realtor’s job to find a place for you to meet your specific requirements (location, price range, facilities, etc.) and they will certainly do that – or they will tell you to lower your expectations if you aren’t able to fork out a huge deposit.
Generally, when showing you around Seoul, the realtor will pick you up and take you around to each location in his or her vehicle, and they will also let you know what kind of paperwork you need to complete (although if you plan to rent there won’t be much paperwork).
Again, if you are planning to purchase a home in Seoul instead of leasing, you should get a lawyer to help you out with the finer details. Also, you should always get the apartment appraised from an outside source before you purchase a home. It is advisable, if you plan on renting, to take pictures of the entire house, inside and out, before you sign the lease so you can’t be accused of previous damages when your lease expires.