Real estate agents and accommodation agencies
Korea has plenty of real estate agents located all around the country, especially on the streets of Seoul. You should be able to spot them by their window displays of ads and listings of rentals. A number of professional real estate companies provide tours in English & have translators on-site.
Some companies also offer useful extra services; such as moving your possessions/furniture from one country to another. So make sure to do some research before picking just any agency as you might find some of the additional services useful.
Korean business culture means consultants want to develop personal relationships with their clients. You might not be used to this, but take the time to talk. Remember that you can negotiate on price (this is far from taboo in Korea!). Up to a 10% discount off the advertised price can be negotiated in some cases.
Most real estate agents do charge a fee and the ones that do not often provide fewer services. Fees are set by government regulation and agents are prohibited from charging more than the maximum legal amount permitted.
For a rental transaction, an agent is entitled to 0.5% of the annual rental income (rates correspond to government set standards in March 2003). If you cannot speak Korean, there are local English speaking agents who provide translating and negotiating services for a fee. You can find such agents listed in any newspaper in English.
Tips for dealing with estate agents
In order to save yourself time and money, it is important that you understand the norms and customs of doing business in Korea.
Before agreeing to anything, make sure you understand the details of each part of the transaction first. Research current fees set by the government and also the services each agency promises to provide. Also, when doing business with independent service providers or directly with property owners, clarify the terms of agreement in order to prevent any potential misunderstandings. Get a local to help you if you can!