28 April 2007

my real estate primer

nothing says luxury like matching metallic pillows and walls.

the insatiable demand for seoul's limited housing (half of south korea's 47 million people live within the greater seoul metropolitan area) means that a couple can own only one apartment. flipping additional flats for cash or holding onto extras as an investment isn't allowed. one loophole, however, is the office-tel. from what i've gather, the office-tel is a smaller version of an apartment (usually a studio) popular with students or businessmen that is usually found outside residential areas priced at a higher rate.

after the tailor and before lunch, jayne and hyong took me to their meeting with the fine folks at "art nouveau city III," an office-tel planned along teheran-no, a main drag through seocho-dong and gangnam-dong. a.n.c.3's physical plant hopes to take advantage of the short-term housing needs of out-of-town suits contracting for samsung, whose shiny new world headquarters is finishing up just blocks away. before the elaborate sales presentation we viewed a sample suite that was a study in yucky frou-frou, chi-chi decor. i was a big fan of the crystal chandeliers, the lacquered wood paneling so shiny it looked wet, and the pseudo-art nouveau paintings that competed with their opulent gold painted frames. my favorites, however, were the luxurious! silver-colored python skin door paneling, and the luxurious! pom-pom-sized tassles and 5 layers of velvety fabric drapes that were folded above each window.

the décor was enhanced by elaborate human pageantry. teams of white-coated staff waist-bowed in unison as a jazzy rendition of the eagles' desperado played in the background. the sales pitch explained the lucrative opportunities of buying a unit that would be rented out to business-types by a third-party. the entire building would operate essentially like a hotel (with hotel-like amenities), but each unit is privately owned. the 19-pyeong unit (about 228 square feet) were selling well at over $400,000 each. 90 minutes later we left with 150,000 won ($160) in gift certificates to lotte shopping center. now i know why we went. it's time for lunch.

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