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S. Korea's home sales hit 7-year low in Feb.

All Headlines 11:00 March 14, 2013

SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) -- Sales of housing units in South Korea dropped to a seven-year low in February, the government said Thursday, highlighting a prolonged recession in the country's real estate market.

The number of home transactions came to 47,288 last month, down 14.2 percent from the same month last year, according to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.

The figure is the lowest since 2006 when the government began tracking home sales, it said.

The ministry attributed last month's drop to what it called growing uncertainties over further drops in housing prices, which apparently have kept investors away from the country's property market since early last year.

The average price of South Korean homes fell for a 10th consecutive month in January, dropping 0.26 percent from the previous month, the ministry said earlier.

Such a prolonged downturn in the property market is also beginning to hurt the country's construction industry, which is expected to take another severe blow following the possible collapse of the country's largest-ever urban development project to turn an old district in Yongsan, central Seoul, into an international business hub of skyscrapers.

The threat to the construction industry also prompted the new transportation and construction minister, Suh Seung-hwan, to point to a recovery of the construction and real estate market as the most urgent task facing his ministry in his inaugural speech on Monday.

"We have many urgent tasks ahead of us, but we must first normalize the real estate market. The prolonged downturn in the real estate market is not only leading to shrinking of the real economy but is also threatening the very livelihood of our people," he had said.


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