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Waiting for a bus on my way to work I picked up a copy of the real estate sections of The Korea Times, a local newspaper serving the Korean community in Los Angeles. That’s right the real estate sections. There were two, a total of 32 pages of real estate coverage and advertisements in one day’s newspaper. This at a time when falling circulation and ad revenue forced the Los Angeles Times to fold its separate real estate coverage into the business section.
From the ads it seemed the target was real estate investors. There were advertisements from agents that highlighted the income the properties throw off. That’s something you don’t typically see in mainstream newspapers. There were also brokers pitching 1031 exchanges, a way for real estate investors to defer taxes on sales.
I used to live in LA’s Koreatown neighborhood so I know a lot of money flowed into real estate development during the boom, some of it from South Korea. I’m sure a lot of folks lost money in the past few years. But those fat real estate sections—even though I couldn’t read most of what was in them—reminded me how entrepreneurial immigrants can be, particularly those from Korea.
Lacking in many cases the language skills to get jobs in Corporate America, Korean-Americans start their own businesses. LA has recently seen an explosion in Korean BBQ taco trucks, for example. Others still see real estate as a way to get their piece of the American Dream.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.