• Top Real Estate Agencies in Korea: The Ultimate Guide

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    Korea is an economic powerhouse in the Asian region and attracts a number of foreigners who are expats, wish to either settle down here or just want to invest in properties. Even in many locals decide to not go through real estate agents when buying property, it’s the only option available for many foreigners.

    Most of the international real estate agencies have opened offices in Korea since years back, but you’ll also find local agencies who should be of interest.

    In this article I will explain more about some of the biggest and most reputable agencies in Korea.

    1. Colliers International Korea

    Founded in 1898 in Canada, originally named as Macaulay Nicolls Maitland, the company merged with an Australian property services company, Colliers, in order to expand their operation to a global level. They currently have 396 offices with more than 15,000 employees in 69 countries.

    Under the lead of the CEO- John McLernon, Colliers International’s office in Korea is situated in Seoul with roughly 20 employees. The management team consists of a group of Korean nationals. In 2016, they won Best Overall Advisor & Consultant Award in Asia awarded by Euromoney Real estate Awards.

    Property types

    Colliers offers a big variety of products, including both residential and commercial property. They have offices, warehouses, industrial and retail properties for commercial purposes.

    Services offered

    Colliers International Korea offers various services from property search to project management, valuation and appraisal. They also provide consultation and brokerage as needed.

    Office address

    Colliers International | Korea, 14F, S Tower, 82, Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea

    2. JLL Korea

    JLL is a global real estate service company that has 330 corporate offices and more than 77,000 employees operating in more than 80 countries. The company’s history can be traced back to as early as 1783 and was first established by Richard Winstanley in London. Over the years, the company evolved and merged with other companies in order to expand worldwide.

    In Korea, JLL have 3 offices all based in Seoul with around 30 employees led by a mostly Korean based management team. The newly promoted country head, Chae Hun Chang, has more than 23 years of experience in real estate sector in both South Korea and globally. Since joining the company in 2000, Chang has served in various senior leadership positions.

    The Korea office operates fairly well. In fact, JLL Korea was named “Best Property Consultancy” in Korea by International Property Awards Asia Pacific in 2016 and 2017.

    Property types

    JLL offers different types of properties including residential, industrial, hotels and hospitality, ​and retail.

    Services offered

    JLL provides different professional services for both corporations and investors. The services range from lease administration and workplace strategy, to project management and valuation. For more details, you can check on their website.

    Office address

    1. JLL
    23F Two IFC
    10 Gukjegeumyung-ro
    Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul 07326

    2. JLL
    2F KT&G Daechi Tower
    8 Teheran-ro 98-gil
    Gangnam-gu, Seoul 06181

    3. LaSalle Investment Management
    16F Two IFC
    10 Gukjegeumyung-ro
    Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul 07326

    3. Knight Frank

    Headquartered in London with over 418 offices in 60 countries, Knight Frank is a global real estate consultancy with prime residential and commercial offerings. Founded in 1896 as a valuation, surveying and auction business, Knight Frank now employs over 14,000 people across the globe as a leading property advisor.

    Founded in 2002, the Seoul-based office of Knight Frank Korea consists of a small team of Koreans.

    Property types

    Knight Frank mainly provides services for commercial properties, but they sometimes offer residential options as well.

    Services offered

    As a consultancy company, Knight Frank offers not only valuation and consultation, but also tenant representation and global investment management.

    Office address

    2F, Pine Avenue B, 100 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

    4. CBRE Korea

    CBRE Group Inc. is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm with a revenue of USD 14.2 billion in 2017. We can trace the company’s roots in San Francisco in 1906. By the 1940’s, the company had already become one of the biggest commercial real estate service company in the western United States. Since then, the company has grown rapidly by going public and merging with other companies.

    Established in 1999, CBRE Korea now has more than 280 employees working in their office in Seoul. The current managing director of the Korean branch is Darren Krakowiak, while the rest of the executive team in Korea is all Koreans. In 2015, the Korean branch won Best Property Consultancy in Asia Pacific Property Award.

    Property types

    CBRE offers various types of commercial properties for sale, such as office space, retail properties, factories and more.

    Services offered

    • Sales and leasing
    • Valuation and advisory
    • Project management
    • Consulting
    • Property management
    • Others

    Office address

    21F, Standard Chartered Bank Building
    47, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu
    Seoul, Korea 03160

    5. Christine Realty Inc.

    Christine Realty Inc. is a fairly new player in the real estate market in Korea. The company was established in December 2012 by Christine Park. She previously obtained her bachelor degree in public administration at Seoul women’s university and worked at JLL before opening the realty. They now run in 2 offices in Camp Casey (Dongducheon) and Camp Humphreys (Pyeongtaek) area.

    Christine Realty Inc. buy and sell properties and also helps with leasing. They specialize in helping American military and civilian families in finding a home to rent and relocate. The team consists of 7 local females.

    As seen on their review on Facebook, most commenters mentioned the same thing: Christine Realty offers friendly and dedicated realty services and they are passionate about helping U.S. families to have a smooth transition from the States to Korea. If you are moving with your family, Christine Realty might be a good option.

    Property types

    As the realty specializes in finding a home for U.S. family to live, most of the properties on their list are single houses, apartments and villas for rent.

    Services offered

    Christine Realty aims to provide dedicated, friendly and bilingual real estate services such as leasing, property marketing, buy/sell, and real estate development.

    Office address

    Christine Realty Inc. Camp Humphreys
    South Korea, Gyeonggi-do, Pyeongtaek-si

    Christine Realty Inc. Camp Casey does not have an address while the one at Camp Humphreys does not have an exact address. I would suggest you to go on their website to find out how to get there.

    6. Cushman & Wakefield Korea

    First founded in 1917 in New York by Clydesdale Cushman and Bernard Wakefield, Cushman & Wakefield now has 253 offices in over 70 countries with nearly 45,000 staffs. The current CEO is Brett White, who has years of experience in the real estate market. He served as the CEO for CBRE 7 years before joining DTZ who merged with Cushman & Wakefield.

    Moving to the Asia-Pacific region, the first Korea office was established in 2000. The current managing director is Richard Hwang who is also responsible for retail investment/ leasing commercial transaction and many more. Other key people include Dan Kim & Jae UK. They are each responsible for different division, including project management and retail transaction services.

    Property types

    Cushman & Wakefield only provides services to commercial properties such as offices and shopping centers.

    Services offered

    Include commercial and retail related services such as project management, retail leasing, tenant representation, valuation, consulting, office platform solutions and more.

    Office address

    6F Seoul Finance Center
    136, Sejong-daero, Jung-gu
    Seoul, 100-768
    South Korea

    822 3188 322

    7. RE/MAX Korea

    Founded in 1973 by Dave and Gail Liniger in Denver, Colorado, RE/MAX is a network of over 100,000 brokers operating in more than 100 countries. RE/MAX stands for “Real Estate Maximums”.

    Under the lead of Shin Hee Sung (신희성), RE/MAX has an executive team consisted of local Koreans with a total of 16 offices that provides different real estate services including consultancy, advertising, sales & leasing and etc. The headquarter is located in Seoul.

    Property types

    Each office offers different commercial properties including offices and retail buildings. However, RE/MAX has more options when it comes to commercial purposes. You can rent or buy your choice of property.

    Services offered

    As RE/MAX has numerous offices, each office offers different services. Some of the offices offer only consulting services. It is best to check on their website before paying them a visit. However, just to name a few services offered: consultancy, real estate development, asset management and marketing.

    Office address

    RE / MAX Bright
    7F Blue Building, 581 Kangnam Daero Road, Seocho-gu, Seoul

    RE/MAX Wide Partners
    Teheranro 132, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (Yeoksam-dong, Handok Building 13th floor)

    RE/MAX Best Partners Brokerage Corporation Co., LTD
    181, 504 Kwangdeok Road, Danwon-gu, Ansan-si, Gyeonggi-do (BYC Building)

    RE/MAX Winners
    1721-5 111, Mucil-dong, Wonju, Gangwon-do

    RE/MAX First Partners Co.,LTD
    Seoul Songpa-gu Olympics 86, 9F (Jamsil-dong Roy Tower)

    7th floor of Daebang Bldg. 83, Myolun-ro, Dongrae-gu, Busan

    Reading Hall 84, Yongsan-gu, Seoul

    RE/MAX Gold Assets
    Teheranro 4 Gil 46, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (826-37 Yeoksam-dong, 129 Ssangyong Platinum Valve)

    RE/MAX Korea
    Teheranro 132, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (Yeoksam-dong, Handok Building 13F)

    RE/MAX Humphreys
    Pyeongtaek City, Gyeonggi-do

    RE/MAX Hwangji
    Sejong City 194 Sejong Central Town 102 (Vibration 547)

    RE/MAX Gold
    52-1, Shinjangno, Pyeongtaek City, Gyeonggi-do, Korea (Shinjang-dong)

    8. Savills Korea

    Savills is a real estate advisory listed on the London Stock Exchange. Established in 1855 by Alfred Savill in England, Savills now has 600 owned and associate offices in over 60 countries employing more than 35,000 people.

    Located in Seoul, the Korea team has around 20- 30 people on board. As of March 2018, the Korea office has promoted Ms. Crystal Soojeong Lee from the head of the investment advisory division to CEO. She has over 19 years of experience in commercial real estate services throughout her career at BHPK, Majestar, and Savills Korea. They have 2 offices both located in Seoul.

    Property types

    As Savill is a real estate consultancy, they mainly focus on commercial and retail leasing property. Their network can connect you to some of the best properties in Korea such as Seoul Finance Center and SFC Mall.

    Services offered

    Through their advices, Savill can provide real estate services such as investment advisory, leasing services, secondary asset consulting, investment management, professional management and more.

    Office address

    Savills Korea Advisors Realty

    15F Tower 8
    7 Jongro 5-gil, Jongro-gu

    Savills Korea & Savills asset management

    13F Seoul Finance Centre
    136 Sejong-daero, Jung-gu

    How much do I need to pay my agent in commission in Korea?

    You usually need to pay a commission of 0.2 – 0.9%, calculated based on the sales value.

    This is fairly low, comparing to Hong Kong for example where property is more expensive, you need to pay a rate of 1%.

    What are the general regulations when buying property in Korea as a foreigner?

    You have no particular issues when buying property in Korea as a foreigner. You can own buy and own land for example, which is not the case in many Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines. However, before buying property, you should have a look at the following regulations:

    • The Foreigner’s Land Acquisition Act
    • The Registration of Real Estate Act
    • The Foreign Exchange Transactions Act

    You can read more about the regulations in my separate article “How to Buy Property in Korea”.

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