The Korea Herald


Home ownership falling among young Korean households

By 황장진

Published : March 8, 2016 - 14:17

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South Koreans in their 20s and early 30s lag far behind their American counterparts in terms of home ownership, a think tank report said Tuesday, indicating unemployment and other economic difficulties faced by young Korean people. 

According to a report released by KB Research, 21 percent of Koreans aged 20-35 had their own homes, including apartments, in 2010, whereas 36 percent of their same-age Americans owned their homes in 2014. The KB report is based on the latest data from the two countries.

"In Korea, college graduates in their 20s and 30s have difficulties in getting a job they want amid an extended economic slowdown. As a result, they can't save and afford to buy a home.

Many of them are rent poor," said KB analyst Sohn Eun-kyung, who wrote the report.

The home-owning ratio among Koreans aged 20-35 fell from 24 percent in 1995, she said, citing data from Statistics Korea. "The ratio is expected to fall further in coming years as companies hire less amid growing uncertainties and low growth."

The government's stimulus packages announced in mid-2014 helped revive the then nearly moribund real estate market, but many are suffering from heavy debt extended at lower rates and soaring rental costs and home prices.

In the report, the U.S. data looked stronger than Korea's, but the home-owning ratio among Americans in the same age group also dropped from 43 percent in 2004.

"Some U.S. youngsters in their 20s and 30s have to repay their student loans for several years after graduation if they get a job.

If not, their debt burden increases over time. Hence (there is) little room for a home," Sohn said.

The size of U.S. student loans snowballed to US$1.2 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2015 from $241 billion in 2003. Those under 39 years old applied for 65 percent of the loans as of the end of the fourth quarter, she said.