1 Million People Bid For 3 Tiny Apartments In Asia’s Most Sought-After City

"What global rental crisis?!"

1 Million People Bid For 3 Tiny Apartments In Asia’s Most Sought-After City

Image: Japan Times

Real estate continues to pose something of a conundrum around the world: while the ultra-rich likes of Jeff Bezos invest in $270m mega-mansions and apocalypse-ready bunkers, the rest of us find that renting is harder than ever. Never before have we seen the intensity of that demand summarised in such a shocking statistic as this…

Over a million people have thrown their hats into the ring for a shot at owning one of three apartments in Seoul’s prestigious and highly sought-after Gangnam district (yes, the same district that inspired the immortal 2012 song…). The apartments — part of the ‘H Firstier IPark’ complex — have become a red hot commodity in an area known for its affluence, sky-high property values, and all-round respectability…

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The ‘H Firstier IPark’ — until recently a rundown and dilapidated 40-year-old complex — has undergone a massive transformation at the hands of Hyundai Engineering and Construction alongside HDC Hyundai Development Co. What makes these three units so appealing is that they hit the market at their pre-sale price from four years ago, a common practice in South Korea.

Location is a massive factor in the allure of these properties too, however. Situated in the very well-to-do Gangnam, they are only minutes away from near-tier private schools and highly sought-after public high schools too, making them irresistible for families looking to get on in the world.

These apartments did actually have buyers who had already secured the apartments before construction took place but, for unknown reasons, they all backed out. Not only did this open these properties back don’t the market at a lower price point but also meant that, unlike most sales in SOuth Korea, the units became exempt from regulations that prioritise larger households or those who have not recently owned another property.

This fuelled a bidding frenzy, the winners of which will be announced on Thursday.

There’s Never Been A Worse Time To Rent

Korea is far from the only city in the world currently enduring an unprecedentedly competitive rental market. In an article we wrote last year about Sydney’s rental market, the pattern is just the same:

Hopeful renters can be seen cramming into elevators and queuing in long lines to inspect unremarkable properties, as rents rise at the fastest annual pace ever, according to Domain’s latest property report.

There appears to be no end in sight for the rental crisis plaguing the country’s major cities, as demand far outstrips supply in a post-pandemic housing frenzy. But Sydney is by far the worst hit – as videos on social media reveal.

Videos posted to TikTok show young couples and families frustrated and waiting in stand-still lines that snake out of apartment buildings, across garden paths and around street corners, as housing hopefuls attend Saturday inspections in an increasingly ruthless competition for a place in Sydney’s housing market.

The other painful part of the equation? Rather punchy asking rents for often sub-standard accommodation. But with competition as fierce as it is, compromises have to be made for those wanting to survive in The Harbour City…

WATCH: The Reality Of Sydney’s Rental Crisis

And it seems that many buyers, especially those from working and lower-middle class families, are suffering almost as much as chronic renters. Here’s an exert from another article we wrote last year:

Rising interest rates have increased mortgage costs, making it harder for first-time buyers to get into the market. A study by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute has revealed that 40% of 25-34-year-olds in Sydney and Perth expect to receive financial assistance from their families to buy a property.

The University of Sydney’s senior lecturer in Urbanism, Dr Laurence Troy, commented that buying property in Sydney was impossible without significant financial help: “If you’re living in Sydney and trying to buy into Sydney, the only way you can do it is through family support in a fairly significant way,” Troy said, adding:

“Saving up and living frugally won’t work to get you over the line – unless you’re on a big wage.”

Dr Laurence Troy

All of this makes for pretty bleak reading. The silver lining, I suppose, is that three families may have landed themselves an enviable apartment in an equally enviable neighbourhood. We’re very happy for them…