Welcome to Part 3 of our series on investing in Sokcho. If you missed Part 2, click here. For Part 1, click here. The series follows a group of Seoul Real Estate Investing Meetup members' whirlwind 19-hour day as they traveled to Sokcho to check out the properties of two of our investors and explore a unique Korea-focused real estate buying strategy using jeonse.
Why invest in Sokcho?
As any savvy investor knows, the key to smart value investing is to for choose your location wisely. Typically, investors are looking for signs of decreasing unemployment, increasing population trends, desirability (i.e., cool hip places to eat, great school district, etc).
So does Sokcho pass the test?
Here are some of the reasons our investors like Sokcho.
- Proximity to Seoraksan. As Seoraksan is a year-round tourist destination, Sokcho is well-positioned to take advantage of its proximity. In fact, I was told that one of the reasons why major brands build stores in Sokcho is to help spread brand awareness throughout Korea. Why go to different cities to open branches when you can just open one in Sokcho, where everyone visits.
- Proximity to lake and beach. In the summer, Sokcho will always be a popular tourist destination. We should know - it took us six hours to drive there!
- Good schools. For the local population in the nearby areas, Sokcho is known for having the best schools.
- New highway almost completed. There will be a new highway that connects Sokcho to Yangyang and eases some traffic congestion.
Another factor that the investors pointed out to me is that they liked the stability of Sokcho's market. While it has several desirable features listed above, it's not a market that undergoes huge swings in either direction. This is important in key money investing as a steady appreciating market protects your highly-leveraged position.
There are also interesting possibilities that could possibly pay off for investors looking long:
- Railway. I don't know all the details, but there's apparently a railway planned from Russia, through North Korea, and ending in Sokcho. Completion of this railway could be a tremendous boost in tourism. If more foreigners visit, that also means more foreign brands might open there, and that could definitely draw larger crowds.
- Amusement park. While in Sokcho, one of the investors pointed out an article mentioning that Chinese developers were planning on investing $2 billion in Sokcho to build an amusement park if the railway were completed.
So, while our savvy investors are mostly looking for cheap, undervalued properties that can be had with little money out-of-pocket, Sokcho has some potential to pay off in a big way if certain developments happen.
At the same time, Sokcho's downside will probably be protected due to its built-in desirability that's not going to change.
And... my own thoughts... if North Korea and South Korea ever do reunify, Sokcho could experience a large population boost as North Korean immigrants make their way southward.
Anyways, as you know, these posts are not meant to entice anyone to invest in Sokcho. Instead, these are educational to help our members and others understand how areas are evaluated to find the best place to invest.
The Sokcho Real Estate Investing series is not intended to encourage people to invest in Sokcho. Nor do we have any products for sale or investments opportunities to offer. We simply want to help educate our members about potential Korea real estate investing strategies through the experiences of some of our members. We welcome all feedback.
(Banner photo by Raheel Shahld, Flickr)