No change in land prices near Camp Humphreys
Stars and Stripes June 16, 2003
TAEGU, South Korea — Last week’s announcement that the U.S. military plans an eventual shift of troops from Seoul to Camp Humphreys has had no effect on land prices in Pyongtaek, according to local real estate agents.
But a move could eventually trigger a boom in local housing and construction, they said.
And, they said, while overall land prices for Pyongtaek have not been affected, those in the city’s Anjong-ri area, where Camp Humphreys is located, have increased since 2001, when U.S. Forces Korea first disclosed plans to expand its presence there under the U.S.-South Korean Land Partnership Plan.
“No changes at all” in Pyongtaek, said Chu Kang-wook, head of the city’s branch of Real Estate Agent Network, an industry association. But, he said, “Anjong-ri business area around Camp Humphreys got affected a little bit.”
The most recent increases in Anjong-ri came “at the beginning of this year,” when prices rose roughly 20 percent, said Lee Chong-guk, vice president of the Kyonggi Province branch of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.
In Anjong-ri’s business district, prices increased from 2.5 million Korean won (about $2,057) per pyong (0.0008 acres) to 3 millon won (about $2,469) per pyong, said Lee, and in the housing market increased from 1 million won (about $823) per pyong to 1.2 million won (about $987) or 1.3 million won (about $1,069) per pyong.
Though land prices are up in Anjong-ri, there’s been no rush to buy, Lee added. “I haven’t seen anyone, not even one person, wanting to buy some land near” Camp Humphreys, he said.
“I don’t think land price of areas becoming part of U.S. bases will go up, but housing or business area near base might be different,” Chu said. “I can’t anticipate anything yet though.”
Another factor is uncertainty over when the proposed move might actually take place, which tracts of land it would affect, and what terms South Korean authorities would set on land sales and related transactions.
“We don’t know the exact amount of money we can get from the government for turning our land over, so there are not many transactions, and we can’t ask people to trade their land,” Chu said.
Regardless of what happens to property prices, other economic factors could surface if the U.S. troop shift requires new construction, according to Yoo Ji-soo, associate professor of economics at Yongnam University.
“The construction industry will … prosper,” said Yoo. “I think the demand for new construction will increase.”
The hotel and tourist trade also might see growth, Yoo added. “The American soldiers … need hotel, and they need tourism.”
— Choe Song-won contributed to this report.