KB Real Estate, one of the most representative private real estate statistics institutions, had its market index service suspended last week and resumed on Monday when there was a controversy on the “government pressure.” This was after KB Real Estate’s statistics on apartment trading and deposit-basis lease prices showed sharper increases than the Korea Appraisal Board, which is authorized by the government and real estate policymakers were criticized by the opposite party after making arguments based on the statistics of the Korea Appraisal Board, which was out of touch with market reality.
KB Real Estate announced last week that it would not provide the weekly trading and lease index. The index clarifies how active trading is as it reflects the market atmosphere quickly through weekly surveys on real estates. “We recommend using real transaction price of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the appraisal institute’s statistics on trading status,” it said. A storm of criticism from online users followed, who said it suspended its service because of the government, and KB Real Estate resumed its service.
This showed the depth of citizens’ distrust on the government real estate statistics. Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki was criticized for ignoring market reality after saying that deposit-based lease trading was increasing when many private statistics showed a decrease in the trading volume. Land Minister Kim Hyun-mi also made a dent in people’s trust by saying that there was bound to be gaps because KB Real Estate’s statistics was based on “asking price” when the gap between private and public statistics was pointed out in the government office inspection.
The incumbent administration is consistently facing controversy over statistic fraud and distortion. It changed head of the Statistic Korea when there was statistics showing worsened income distribution, and the newly appointed head drastically changed the surveying method. The government says the situation is improving even though employment statistics keeps worsening except for “tax-based jobs.” It is only natural for people to suspect that the government put pressure on KB Real Estate to stop providing “unfriendly” statistics.
“No country in the world promote real estate policies only based on government statistics,” said experts. They point out that the government should broadly refer to private and public statistics. President Moon Jae-in asked for “public statistics that accurately reflect real transaction status” just in time. Self-centered utilization of statistics not only leads policies into a wrong direction, but also generates distrust. Statistics should not be “shaken” anymore.