Researching The Neighborhood

5 Replies

Hi BP! My name is Griffen Buchheit. I am looking to buy my first property this year, and I plan to invest in the Kalamazoo, Mi. area. I’ve found potential properties in two neighbors: the Stuart neighborhood and the Vine neighborhood. However, when researching each I noticed both neighborhoods had higher crime rates and vacancy rates than I was expecting. Lots of other investors rent out property in these neighborhoods, so I was wondering if anyone has had any problems investing in these areas, or has any wisdom to shed on how these types of statistics affect investment decisions? Thanks, I’m excited to be apart of BP!

Hi Griffen, 

Welcome to BP! I don't own any properties in those neighborhoods but I'm somewhat familiar with them. Both neighborhoods have high student populations as Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College are right there. So there's good rental potential with likely higher than average maintenance costs. My guess is that Vine is preferable to Stuart from a crime perspective given Stuart is adjacent to the Northside but this may depend on the specific block you're looking at. I definitely think you'll want to at least meet the 1% rule in these neighborhoods given the headaches that may arise with tenant/neighborhood issues, and you might be able to find deals that even surpass the 1% rule if you can find any off-market. 

I'm pretty new to this as well and hoping to grow my local network. I'd love to hop on a call with you sometime to learn more about what you are looking for and to see if I can help!

Hey Griffen, I live here in Kzoo and inspect a lot of houses in both Vine and Stuart.  Vine is the preferable of the two and is quite popular with investors, however you have to deal with 100 year old homes and more frequent turnover, capex etc. In the areas close to downtown there are a few good areas and definitely some areas where crime is a huge deterrent. The Stuart and Edison neighborhoods are areas I have personally shied away from investing. On paper the properties look super appealing until you actually drive the areas.  Here is an article published by a local property management company that I have found quite helpful. I have no affiliation with them and haven't used them but thought I'd pass this on. Best of luck!!

I've lived in K-zoo for just over 15 years. I agree that vine neighborhood is the more stable of the 2. Stuart has some amazing houses but neighborhood conditions and property values literally vary from street to street. Both areas are pretty heavily populated with students. Vine has been known as "student ghetto" for decades, but has seen an increase in SFH. Also, as mentioned in a previous post, you better like big, old houses if you are looking at either of these areas. Something I might recommend is familiarizing yourself with the rental laws for the city. They just updated them late last year, and they are very strict on rental criteria, fees charged etc. I know some investors who don't have a problem with it, but others are looking to unload their properties. I personally won't purchase anything in the city limits, all of my houses are in the township. I just don't want to deal with the governmental red tape. Just a FYI. Hopefully this helps a little. Good luck!