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Number of US properties bought by Koreans almost doubles

The latest available figures from the Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance show that the number of real estate purchases in the US by Koreans increased by 42% between June and July.

The number of purchases in Canada has doubled in the same period and when the figures for the last three months are released they are expected to show a similar increase.

Overall some $41 million was spent in the US and Canada by Korean nationals in July alone. The official figures show that fewer Koreans are buying in Asia.

'Property in North American is increasingly popular because the prices are falling. We expect this trend to continue,' said a ministry spokesman.

However new regulations are due to start in February next year which could affect the number of Koreans living overseas who purchase property.

If they buy property within two years of leaving Korea they will have to report the purchase to the Korean banks they deal with as under the new regulation expatriates will be regarded as domestic residents for the first two years after they leave.

Currently expatriates do not need to report purchases of foreign properties even if they happen right after they leave Korea. But from February failure to report under the new regulation could result in the money being stopped and criminal punishment.

Banks will report the purchase to the National Tax Service. Sale of the overseas properties will have to be repatriated to Korea. The ministry, however, said there is no penalty if expatriates report their purchases properly.

Expatriates who have been away for more than two years only need to report purchases of overseas real estate when they return home.