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Commercial real estate and housing development is spurred on by newly created access to remote rural communities, and the open range in the U.S. was a phenomenon that contributed to making America great during the 20th century. The interstate highway system plan was funded by the U.S. Government beginning in 1925, and the first and legendary interstate highway, Route 66, was born in 1926, which stretched across the Midwestern plains states to the Pacific Ocean on an unusual diagonal stretch from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA.

Photo by Laurence Norah

The History of Route 66“In his famous social commentary, The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck proclaimed U. S. Highway 66 the ‘Mother Road.’ Steinbeck’s classic 1939 novel, combined with the 1940 film recreation of the epic odyssey, served to immortalize Route 66 in the American consciousness. An estimated 210,000 people migrated to California to escape the despair of the Dust Bowl. Certainly in the minds of those who endured that particularly painful experience, and in the view of generations of children to whom they recounted their story, Route 66 symbolized the ‘road to opportunity.’ From 1933 to 1938 thousands of unemployed male youths from virtually every state were put to work as laborers on road gangs to pave the final stretches of the road. As a result of this monumental effort, the Chicago-to-Los Angeles highway was reported as “continuously paved” in 1938…Route 66 helped to facilitate the single greatest wartime manpower mobilization in the history of the nation. Between 1941 and 1945 the government invested approximately $70 billion in capital projects throughout California, a large portion of which were in the Los Angeles-San Diego area. This enormous capital outlay served to underwrite entirely new industries that created thousands of civilian jobs.” – National Historic Route 66 Federation

The cult road movie Easy Rider was filmed along Route 66 and included the immortal soundtrack by Steppenwolf, “Born to be Wild,” in 1969.

Is Rocket Man born to be wild? Will new roads be built, old roads be improved, and the commercial industry flourish along the DMZ?  Kim Jong-un and the POTUS have inked an agreement at the Singapore Summit over the last 48 hours, so peace may actually come to the Korean peninsula. Some entrepreneurial folks over there have been very busy of late, speculating with yuge purchases of real estate along the northern and southern borders of North Korea, driving up apartment valuations and creating a land rush.

Peace talks ignite land buying frenzy along South Korea’s fortified border… “With North Korea pledging to reduce tensions and renew ties with its southern neighbor, South Korea’s hottest property market is now along the heavily fortified border between the two countries. Demand for property in small towns and sparsely populated rural areas around the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) is surging on expectations of an influx of people and investment. Kang Sung-wook, a 37-year old dentist in the South Korean border city of Paju, has bought eight separate lots of land in and around the DMZ since mid-March. Five were purchased without ever setting foot on them, using only Google Earth satellite photos and maps, as areas inside the DMZ cannot not be accessed by the public. Kang said buying interest jumped so sharply as relations between the former foes improved that he needed to move fast. ‘I was out looking since North Korea-U.S. summit news was announced in March, and it looked like all the good ones were gone already,’ said Kang. ‘I realized then that the market was on fire.’ His investment along the border now totals 3 billion won ($2.8 million) for 49 acres (20 hectares) of land.” – Reuters, May 13

North Korea Border Town Is Now China’s Hottest Property Market… “A North Korea border town has suddenly become China’s new hot property market, as Kim Jong Un’s embrace of peace sparks a buying frenzy.” – Bloomberg, May 9

Real Estate Jumps In Chinese City Bordering North Korea… “In April, Dandong’s hopes were suddenly lifted. A historic meeting between leaders of North and South Korea provided raised optimism here that the closed country across the river may soon open for business. The summit planned for next week between President Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has added more fuel to the anticipation. And investors from across China have flooded in to this border city of 2.4 million. ‘They came from Beijing, Wenzhou, and all over northeast China,’ says Bob Li, a Dandong real estate agent. Li says in the two weeks following the inter-Korean summit, a surge of real estate investors into the city catapulted home prices by more than 50 percent. He promptly began renovating his office to accommodate more customers. ‘I’ve never seen anything like this in Dandong,’ says Li, as workers scurry around him. ‘We’d have several buyers coming in from all over China buying up apartments. To them, the homes were very cheap, so they would buy as many as possible.” – NPR, Jun. 8

Investors Scramble To Secure Property On The Korean Border… “Welcome to the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, where real estate prices are reportedly skyrocketing as peace profiteering makes an outsized bet that the unlikely trio of Donald Trump, Kim Jung-un and Dennis Rodman will end the nuclear threat and render the DMZ the place to be. From February to March this year, land deals in Paju more than doubled, according to South Korean government data cited by Reuters, and it’s enough to outshine the trendy Seoul neighborhoods, like Gangnam.” – Safehaven, Jun 11 

President Trump meets Kim Jong-un… “Trump said he brought Kim to the table by showing him what the future could look like should he choose the path of peace: ‘Instead of [testing missiles] you could have the best hotels in the world right there. Think of it from a real estate perspective.’ – CNN, Jun. 12

Can you imagine Kim Jong-un going full Make Korea Great Again (MKGA)? Kim has walked and talked his desire to vastly improve North Korea’s economy for months, and it appears the POTUS found the wild niche to bring Kim to the peace table, with one caveat: give up the nukes. Denuclearization. Period.

Oh, and don’t forget about the trillions of dollars’ worth of natural resources North Korea is sitting on. Fugetaboutit. Keep your eyes on progress made because it could be a wealth maker for astute investors without having to buy any real estate or step foot on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea is sitting on $6 trillion in mineral resources… “As it turns out North Korea is a lot richer than we thought, or at the very least has the potential to be. North Korea has mineral resources estimated to be worth at least $6 trillion, according to Quartz, and the secretive state is sitting on a vast array of mineral resources which remains largely untapped including iron, gold, magnesite, zinc, copper, limestone, molybdenum and graphite. Its bedrock also holds a large amount of metals needed to make smartphones and other technological products… a 2012 estimate by a South Korean research institute valued its mineral wealth as high as $10 trillionThe Economist reported. North Korea expert Leonid Petrov said estimates of $6 trillion were not unheard of or unrealistic but admitted an exact figure was hard to verify.” – NYPost, Jul. 2017

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