Published : 2013-02-18 19:40
Updated : 2013-02-18 19:40
Those who have been dispirited by a long spell of winter cold may eagerly wait for an early arrival of spring ― a season for rebirth and happiness. The English poet Percy Besshe Shelley sounds impatient for its arrival when he says in his poem, “Ode to the West Wind,” that “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
But at this time of the year, there should be quite a few who would feel as dejected as Ernest Hemingway did when he wrote: “When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.” Among them are would-be newlyweds and other urban tenants that may feel crestfallen to find rent has soared at a time when they need to find new homes or when their lease agreements are due for renewal.
According to a report from the association of realtors, the average ratio of the rents to the sale prices of rental homes stood at a 10-year high of 55 percent in Seoul last month. The report said the ratio for non-Seoul areas surpassed 70 percent for the first time.
Rent is assumed to have risen higher now that the spring moving season has started. It coincides with a wedding season, which will make it even harder to lease homes at a reasonable price.
But the main reason rent is rising so rapidly is that families that can afford to buy homes are delaying their purchases in the belief that the prices that have dropped sharply in recent years will continue to fall. Reflecting the low demand for homes, the supply for new ones during the March-May period is estimated to decline 27 percent from the corresponding period of last year.
There is no quick fix. Those who cannot accord to renew their existing tenancy contracts at a higher rent will have to move out to less expensive ones.
But President-elect Park Geun-hye’s administration, when inaugurated later this month, will have to start addressing this housing problem in medium- and long-term policies focusing on building small rental apartments. It goes without saying that housing should be a key item of her vaunted welfare policy.
Her administration will also have to breathe new life into the moribund property market by removing regulations on the ownership of multiple homes by single families and taking other market-boosting measures.