By Lee Yeon-woo
In real estate transactions, where expenses can range from several million to hundreds of millions of won, there is an inherent anxiety involved. The growing incidence of rental fraud exacerbates the fears of those new to the real estate world. This is a market characterized by heightened information asymmetry, a defining trait of the real estate industry.
Ham Bae-il, CEO of BigTech+, is one of those striving to disrupt these characteristics.
“The Korean real estate market is centered around lessors. Real estate agents, who are responsible for providing information, also tend to focus predominantly on lessors. When viewing homes with real estate agents, they often only highlight the positive aspects of the properties,” Ham said in a phone interview with The Korea Times.
Ham noted that the rise in jeonse rental fraud, which has become a significant societal issue, is rooted in this information asymmetry. Jeonse is a unique lump-sum deposit payment in Korea for leasing a home for years, without paying monthly installments to a landlord.
Data from the Korea Housing Finance Corporation shows a significant increase in conflicts related to returning jeonse deposits. It soared from 51 incidents last year to 260 incidents as of August, marking a more than fivefold rise.
Individuals with limited knowledge in real estate are more likely to suffer financial losses, Ham explained.
This led him to establish BigTech+ in 2019, with a mission to provide curated, balanced information to those seeking stable housing options in the real estate market.
The fintech firm offers two main services. The first service provides personalized housing recommendations, tailoring suggestions to the user’s specific details like current location, family status, income and workplace. This platform evaluates real estate properties within a selected area, rating and ranking them according to criteria set by the user.
The second service focuses on ensuring the security of the user’s contracts and deposits. This involves verifying the identity alignment between the property owner and the lessee, assessing if the landlord holds multiple properties and scrutinizing the real estate broker for any past violations. Furthermore, it checks for the legality of the property’s construction and safeguards against any infringement of security deposit rights.
“We provide a comprehensive service that encompasses everything from aiding in the search for a rental home to overseeing the rental deposit through the entire lease period,” Ham said.
Ham’s extensive 16 years of experience at a credit information company sparked his interest in the real estate market. In 2013, he developed and managed a service that allowed for the browsing of real estate registrations, which is currently utilized by most commercial banks.
His fintech venture has also been acknowledged as one of the outstanding companies in the fintech innovation school, a program jointly run by KakaoBank and Fintech Center Korea.
“Our immediate objective is to gain recognition as a leading service in the real estate sector, aligning with the MyData initiative championed by the government,” Ham said.