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10 Real Estate Markets Where The “Buy and Hold” Strategy Actually Made Sense

by Seth Williams on May 23, 2014 · 15 comments

buy and hold markets

Have you ever heard of John Jacob Astor?

A couple hundred years ago, this guy was kind of a big deal.

Astor was one of the earliest (and most successful) businessmen in America. He was a merchant, fur trader and real estate investor who became the first multi-millionaire in the United States. In 1799, Astor acquired several tracts of land in an area that is now known as New York City (perhaps you’ve heard of it?). This guy had the foresight to predict a major economic boom and fortunately, he had the means necessary to acquire this land at a time when nobody else saw the opportunity

“His estimated net worth, if calculated as a fraction of the U.S. gross domestic product at the time, would have been equivalent to $110.1 billion in 2006 U.S. dollars, making him the fifth-richest person in American history.” (Source: wikipedia via forbes)

Okay…   but that was 200 years ago – right?

That time has come and come. We can’t find those kinds of deals any more – can we?

Take a look at these various real estate markets around the world and you tell me – do you think it’s still possible to buy real estate in the path of growth? Which markets do you think will follow this pattern over the next few decades?

Shanghai, China 1990

Shanghai 1990

Shanghai, China 2010

Shanghai 2010

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates 1991

Dubai 1991

Dubai, United Arab Emirates 2014

Dubai 2014

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Chicago , United States 1955

Chicago 1955

Chicago, United States 2014

Chicago 2014

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Hong Kong, China 1900

Hong Kong 1900

Hong Kong, China 2012

Hong Kong 2012

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New York City, United States 1911

New York City 1911

New York City, United States 2014

New York City 2014

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Toronto, Canada 1930

Toronto 1930

Toronto, Canada 2013

Toronto 2013

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Los Angeles, United States 1970

Los Angeles 1970

Los Angeles, United States 2013

Los Angeles 2013

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Shenzen, China 1982

Shenzen China 1982

Shenzen, China 2010

Shenzen China 2010

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Athens, Greece 1860

Greece 1860

Athens, Greece 2014

Greece 2014

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Tokyo, Japan 1945

Tokyo 1945

Tokyo, Japan 2014

Tokyo 2014

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Trevor May 23, 2014 at 9:31 am

Shanghai looked better in 1990


Seth Williams May 27, 2014 at 7:21 am

To each his own. :)


Alex Craig May 23, 2014 at 9:38 am

That was really cool. Thanks for sharing!


Seth Williams May 27, 2014 at 7:21 am

No problem Alex – thanks for checking it out.


James Pratt May 23, 2014 at 10:31 am

Good post, very inspirational. Now, where’s my crystal ball at?


Seth Williams May 27, 2014 at 7:22 am

Lol – great question. I was hoping you could tell me James!


ff_lover May 23, 2014 at 10:31 pm

One common theme: Body of water next to it.


Seth Williams May 27, 2014 at 7:23 am

Very astute observation… must be some correlation there.


Joseph Le May 24, 2014 at 9:41 am

Thanks for the great post. Where is Detroit?


Seth Williams May 27, 2014 at 7:25 am

Haha, I was wondering if someone was going to point that out. Maybe when I put together the list of markets that DIDN’T make sense.


Priscila May 24, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Very interesting. I lived in China for two months and saw some real estate developments going on in more rural areas. I also have heard about the Chinese ghost towns, where a bunch of big housing buildings were built and there wasn’t enough demand to cover all that supply of housing. Anyways, China has over a billion people, 4 times the population of the U.S., so it’s a very interesting market. I will say the lesson here is that there are some real estate markets that are already developed, but other not so much. Finding new emerging real estate markets could definitely be very profitable. Thanks for the post and for sharing the pictures!


Seth Williams May 27, 2014 at 7:27 am

Definitely Priscila. It’s easy to point at what’s already happened and make it seem obvious, but it’s something else entirely to actually see the growth before it happens. I guess the point is… the opportunities are always out there, it’s just a matter of having the foresight to see the symptoms of an oncoming growth spurt before it happens.


Peter Silvester May 27, 2014 at 8:46 am

There are many ways to take advantage of progress. Los Angeles is infilling at an alarming rate. Though taking advantage of buying up good parcels in the city might be pricey to most investors, there is always the opportunity to cater to the people who want to live away from the big city.
There are extremely inexpensive areas just outside of Los Angeles that are still priced below replacement cost. There are also areas that provide for great mini vacation get-a-ways.
The south holds the best potential for photos like what you have generously provided here.
Texas, the Carolinas, Florida too, all are growing fast…helped by the over taxation and unfriendly environment of the California government towards the small investors.


Fred May 27, 2014 at 3:17 pm

So anyone have good cities to invest in to hold for 15-25 years?

I was thinking Detroit, Colorado, or Austin TX?


Gwen B. October 15, 2014 at 10:20 am

Some places may have “grown up”, but I question the population’s ability to rent/pay their bills. Greece, for instance. Isn’t their economy in the tank? Spain is another one. How many young people, who should be productive workers, are now unemployed because of the economy? Wondering about the strength of the Euro as well. I’d rather not invest in China, due to the pollution and influx of people. I simply won’t support that. I’m investing at home. I want my dollars to help our economy here! However…if I had everything I wanted and was sitting on a big fat pile of money, I might consider buying a summer home in Nice. ;)


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