When it comes to multi-family syndication investments, you don’t have to be local to your ideal investment property because, as a passive investor, you simply contribute capital to help get the deal off the ground and then you sit back and utilize the professional expertise of those who are already savvy in those markets.
This means you can be anywhere, only familiar with a few particular metrics to ensure good decision making, and that you can rely on a network of professionals located across the US who have experience as a community manager, broker, contractor, apartment branding agent, cost segregation expert, etc. in their local market. It can be both exciting and overwhelming as you start to realize the endless potential there is.
You could spend days or even weeks researching the best areas for your investments – Googling population trends, the best real estate markets, trying to make sense of the limitless amount of data…
To be honest, all this time and effort won’t give you the answers you’re truly looking for.
Instead, try starting the process by evaluating your investing goals instead. Think about the lifestyle and free time you want for your family and the style of investment you’d need to help press your life toward achieving those goals.
Perhaps you’re looking for an investment that yields a decent cash flow while still experiencing market growth. Using that basic foundation, this research checklist will help you find clarity:
- Job Growth
- Population Growth
- Job Diversity
- Landlord/Tenant Laws
- Geographical Features
- Cost of Living
- Local News
- Local Government
- Whether You Have a Competitive Advantage
Since steady job growth is indicative of a healthy local economy that’s likely attractive to new businesses, developers, and residents to the area, this is the most important metric to evaluate in each market.
Job growth is a leading indicator of population growth. The more jobs, the more residents, the more likely the area will maintain a strong tenant base. When more people are attracted to an area, the demand for housing increases, which drives up rent and real estate prices.
Since the population in a certain area could be affected by natural disasters, migration patterns, and more, you always want to research it after job growth.
Finding an area with long-term upward population growth trends (not a temporary bump) is key, and a major factor supporting that trend is job growth in the area.
These two metrics provide a full picture of the health and future of a given market.
You want to find an area with a variety of industries supporting the local economy. Strong job growth is much less enticing if you discover that most of the jobs in the area are, say, in the tourism industry.
A recession or a negative news story could largely impact the number of tourists, and therefore the job growth and the population trend. A diversified job market is much more attractive since a hiccup in any single industry likely wouldn’t affect the area as a whole.
Beyond the top 3 factors – Job Growth, Population Growth, and Job Diversity, the next best factor to learn about has to do with the laws governing rental properties.
Rent control, for example, is great for tenants but makes it incredibly challenging for landlords to make a return on an investment in an area where costs for contractors, pest control, and property management are skyrocketing.
As an investor, you want some insight from local property managers who are intimately familiar with these laws, so you can find landlord-friendly areas.
While usually the last thing on investor’s minds, taxes can make a huge difference on the bottom line.
State income taxes and property taxes will both impact your operating budget thus, your overall return. Each state has a different tax structure and it’s good to understand what you’d potentially be getting into so you won’t be surprised later.
Use Google Maps to check out the actual, physical landscape of the area. Look for physical barriers like a body of water, a mountain range, or any other geographical features that could inhibit the physical development of the area.
As an example, coastal cities are limited by the ocean. Development can only get so close to the water, which forces them to build upward or expand into the suburbs. This drives up the value of centralized real estate, especially in a time of job and population growth.
Cost of Living
By seeking out an area where the cost of living is low, especially in comparison to the median income in the area, you’re more likely to experience growth. If people can afford to live in the area easily, there is room for the cost of living (i.e., rent) to rise as more jobs and people move into the area.
While the other, previously listed factors are much more important, once you’re pretty “sold” on a certain area, you may want to track a few local news stories.
It would be great to have some heads-up about new companies moving to (or away from) the area, local announcements, community developments, and anything else that would allow a sense of understanding of the local economy and potential future of that market.
Just as with the local news, the local government is indicative of the area’s future standings. It’s a good idea to invest in areas with strong local leaders who support new initiatives, an expanding local economy, and whose vision includes making the market vibrant and welcoming.
Strong leadership from the local government is attractive to corporations, which means that job growth will continue.
Whether You Have A Competitive Advantage
There’s always the chance that you have greater insight into a certain area, more so than other investors. Maybe you have a close cousin or best friend who lives there, maybe you went to college there, or you grew up there.
Any time you possess a competitive advantage, more weight should be given to that market. Local connections or a little history with a particular area can put you leaps and bounds ahead of other investors.
Have You Found Your Ideal Real Estate Investment Market Yet?
So, do you have an area in mind already? Great! Start doing some research to get a feel for the community. Sift through the information to see what exciting opportunities and events are creating momentum.
Perhaps you haven’t decided yet. Don’t worry, you can still do some general investigating in larger regions that are experiencing growth. Once you have found promising information, you can begin to narrow your focus and pinpoint potential markets.
Remember, while you may not be selecting the individual properties as a passive investor, you still need to make sure you are investing in solid markets. To meet your investing goals, you must ensure that the markets you invest in will be profitable. Find an area you are interested in and do your research.