Korea has a developed real estate market and ownership regulations are almost similar between locals and foreigners. Here, you’re not only allowed to buy commercial real estate on a freehold basis but also land.
With that said, some foreigners find it difficult to find real estate agents that can help them finding residential or commercial real estate in cities like Seoul, Busan, or on Jeju Island.
In this article, I list the top real estate agents available in Korea, explaining their history, services, and more.
1. Colliers International Korea
Founded in Canada in 1898, Colliers was originally called Macaulay Nicolls Maitland but merged with an Australian real estate company, Colliers, to expand their operations globally.
Colliers now has 396 offices with more than 15,000 employees in 69 countries and is considered a market-leader.
Under the leadership of the CEO- John McLernon, Colliers International’s office in Korea is situated in Seoul and has roughly 20 employees. The management consists of a group of Korean nationals.
In 2016, they won the Best Overall Advisor & Consultant Award in Asia awarded by Euromoney Real estate Awards.
Colliers offers a big variety of products, including both residential and commercial property. They have offices, warehouses, industrial and retail properties for commercial purposes.
Colliers International Korea offers everything from project management, valuation, and appraisals. They also provide consultation and brokerage services as needed.
Colliers International | Korea, 14F, S Tower, 82, Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
2. JLL Korea
JLL is a global real estate service company that has 330 offices and more than 77,000 employees working in over 80 countries.
The company’s history can be traced back 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 has 3 offices that are all based in Seoul and with around 30 employees led by a primarily Korean management team.
The newly-promoted country head, Chae Hun Chang, has more than 23 years of experience in the real estate sector in both South Korea and globally. Since joining the company in 2000, Chang has held different leadership positions.
JLL Korea is renowned for being one of the top real estate agencies in the country. It was named “Best Property Consultancy” in Korea by International Property Awards Asia Pacific in 2016 and 2017.
JLL offers different types of properties including residential, industrial, hotels and hospitality, and retail properties.
JLL provides different professional services for both corporations and investors. The services range from lease administration and workplace strategy, to project management and valuation.
- JLL, 23F Two IFC, 10 Gukjegeumyung-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
- JLL, 2F KT&G Daechi Tower, 8 Teheran-ro 98-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
- LaSalle Investment Management, 16F Two IFC, 10 Gukjegeumyung-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
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 listings.
Founded in 1896 as a valuation, surveying, and auction business, Knight Frank currently 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 smaller team of Koreans.
Knight Frank mainly provides services for commercial properties, but they sometimes offer residential options as well.
As a consultancy company, Knight Frank offers not only valuation and consultation, but also tenant representation and global investment management.
2F, Pine Avenue B, 100 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
4. CBRE Korea
CBRE is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm with revenues in billions of US dollars.
The company’s history dates back to 1906 and San Francisco. By the 1940s, the company had become one of the biggest commercial real estate service companies in the Western United States. Since then, the company has grown fast, gone public, and merged with other companies.
CBRE Korea was established in 1999 and has more than 280 employees working from Seoul. In 2015, the Korean branch won the Best Property Consultancy in Asia Pacific Property Award.
CBRE offers various types of commercial properties for sale, such as office space, retail properties, factories, and more.
- Sales and leasing
- Valuation and advisory
- Project management
- Property management
21F, Standard Chartered Bank Building, 47, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
5. Christine Realty Inc.
Christine Realty Inc. is a fairly new player in the real estate market in Korea and was established in December 2012 by Christine Park.
She previously got her bachelor’s 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. buys and sells properties and also helps with leasing services. 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 can be a good option.
The company specializes in finding homes for American families. Most of the properties are houses, apartments, and villas for rent.
Christine Realty aims to provide dedicated, friendly, and bilingual real estate services such as leasing, property marketing, buy/sell, and real estate development.
Christine Realty Inc. Camp Humphreys, Gyeonggi-do, Pyeongtaek-si
6. Cushman & Wakefield Korea
Founded in 1917 by Clydesdale Cushman and Bernard Wakefield in New York, Cushman & Wakefield currently has 253 offices in over 70 countries with nearly 45,000 staff.
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.
The first Korean office was established in 2000. The current managing director is Richard Hwang who is also responsible for retail investment/ leasing commercial transactions and many more.
Other key people include Dan Kim & Jae UK. They are each responsible for the different divisions, including project management and retail transaction services.
Cushman & Wakefield only provides services related to commercial properties such as offices and shopping centers.
Commercial and retail-related services such as project management, retail leasing, tenant representation, valuation, consulting, office platform solutions, and more.
6F Seoul Finance Center, 136, Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul
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.
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.
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.
There are a dozen RE/MAX offices in Korea, including:
- RE/MAX Bright – 7F Blue Building, 581 Kangnam Daero Road, Seocho-gu, Seoul
- RE/MAX Wide Partners – Yeoksam-dong, Handok Building 13th floor, Teheran-ro 132, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
- RE/MAX VIP – 7th floor of Daebang Bldg. 83, Myolun-ro, Dongrae-gu, Busan
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 that are both located in Seoul.
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.
Through their advice, Savill can provide real estate services such as investment advisory, leasing services, secondary asset consulting, investment management, professional management, and more.
- Savills Korea Advisors Realty – 15F Tower 8, 7 Jongro 5-gil, Jongro-gu, Seoul
- Savills Korea & Savills asset management – 13F Seoul Finance Centre, 136 Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul
Dongnae is a relatively new proptech company that focuses on making the search and acquisition of real estate as flawless and time-efficient as possible.
Their model is simple: You simply visit the website and book a consultation to meet in person or have a call first. The company has been mentioned in various newspapers and magazines such as the Korea Herald, TechCrunch, and more.
Dongnae’s young management team and employees are more than willing to help foreign buyers, making it an attractive choice for overseas investors.
Residential and commercial real estate, including office space, retail property, villas, houses, apartments, and the list goes on.
The company primarily focuses on property purchases, sales, and rental services.
16-3 Itaewon-ro 54-gil (Hannam-dong 682-13), Building A 2F, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
10. Ace Realty Korea
Ace Realty is a popular real estate agency among foreigners as they primarily help with relocation services and to find rental apartments.
As you can see on their website, they focus on finding units in the Seoul area, including districts like Gangnam, Itaewon, Yeonhui, and Ichon. The company also provides some general information related to life in Korea, including electricity, water supply, internet, and more.
Ace Realty is suitable for foreigners, particularly Americans, who wish to relocate to Korea and have to find rental units.
Villas, single houses, and apartments (rentals).
Rentals and relocation services.
D-#207, Yongsan Park Xi Bldg, Hangangryo-1Ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
How much do I need to pay my agent in commission in Korea?
You usually need to pay a commission of 0.2% to 0.9%, multiplied by the sales value.
The rate is comparably low to other Asian countries. In the Philippines, for example, the rates can range between 3% to 6%.
What are the regulations when buying real estate in Korea as a foreigner?
You have no particular issues when buying a property in Korea as a foreigner. As mentioned at the beginning, you can buy land on a freehold basis, for example.
This is not possible in most 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”.