To Move or Not to Move... Charleston to Greenville, SC

41 Replies

So, I have been talking with local investors in Charleston and I am hearing that the market is too hot and that I should wait until there is a shift before I invest. They're saying that cash investors will beat you to every deal and that prices are just too high in general. 

SO... I work from home, so I can live anywhere... and I'm thinking about re-locating to Greenville, SC in order to start investing. It's an up-and-coming city with great growth projections. I am thinking it must be easier to invest there than in Charleston? I'm kind of bummed out at the thought of not investing in Charleston, though. The ocean isn't going anywhere (at least for awhile!) so I think that adds value that Greenville will never have. And I think Charleston is just a pretty great city. 

But I digress. I'm wondering if anyone has any feedback about the market in Greenville? 

Thanks!

Hi Melissa,

I currently have a 3/1 for rent in Greeville for $750 a month. It was my father in-laws and when he recently passed away we assumed the mortgage and took the property. I've only spent about two weeks there but I've loved everything I saw from a BRRR prospective.

Thre are many C+ to B- areas that are slowly pushing out the unsavorables and appealing to lower middle class. For example. You can get into a run down 3/1 for about $10K. Full rehab for $30k (labor is cheap there) and refinance the deal for a rental property all in at less than $50K. These properties can rent for $700 to $800 so you can cash flow nicely with a SFR where the tenants pay all utilities.

I was also shocked to see how close some of these areas are to A neighborhoods where homes are going for high retail dollars.  This means the family in the $400K house is sending their kids to the same schools as the ones living in the $60K homes.

Honestly, there is a 3 street area that if I had unlimited resources I would buy up everything I could, kick out the riff raff, make the homes super nice and rent to commuters for $900 to $1,000 a month.

I'm very interested in this area and would be far more active in it if I had a local team in place.

Again, this is just my perceptions and experience but I can honestly say to do a ton of due diligence on Greenville and see if it works for you!

I forgot to mention that landlord tenant law there seems to actually favor the landlord.  You can evict a none paying tenant in about three weeks.  That's a whole lot better than the four to eight month process from where I grew up in Boston.

You can also get a good property manager for 8% all in versus the typical 10% plus fees in the North East

Melissa, I have heard "the market is too hot" virtually everywhere I've lived. In my short time on this planet, I have learned one thing: you can't put a price on happiness. If you're happy in Mt. P, you should stay there. There are deals to be had everyday in this area, you just have to look harder than other towns. If you like Greenville as an investment only, it is doable to invest from out of town, don't move simply to be "closer" to an investment.

My brother lives in Greenville, SC (he has for 13 years).  He has been doing buy and holds for 10 years there.  He is always busy, never a lack of deal flow, and never a challenge placing good tenants.  He specifically markets the "Greer, Simpsonville" area.  Hope this helps.  He has been rocking it in Greenville!

As an investor in Greenville I tend to agree with @Prag Patel .  Live where you are happy.  You can find deals in Charleston and with a good team in Greenville ( We can help you with this) ;) you could easily invest here.  My wife and I come to Folly almost monthly and it is just a 3 hour drive.  The Greenville market is very strong and I would definitely encourage you to research it.

@Melissa Searing

I'm located in Simpsonville and work in Greenville. There's a ton of upside to the market here in the Upstate. TONS of new jobs, new construction like crazy. Housing prices are increasing and entry level price points are getting higher, but there are still deals to be made, just have to work a little harder to find them. The rental market is strong as well.

On the plus side, the cost of living is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to Mt. Pleasant / Charleston area. So at least by moving here you should be able to save money based off that which you can funnel into investments.

If you have any questions on Charleston you should contact @Jay Hinrichs, he's got a lot of great info on the area as he's actively investing there.

I'm sure it'd be tough to leave Mt. Pleasant, it's a beautiful place! I have family there and it's always great to go down there for a visit. But I'm sure you'd love Greenville, downtown is amazing, very nice, lots to do, great restaurants. Also very close to the mountains and outdoor activities (Blue Ridge Parkway, Ashville, etc). The Swamp Rabbit Trail is awesome that runs up into Travelers Rest.

@Prag Patel makes a good point.   Happiness must come first.

 On the other hand, Greenville is a pretty cool town. 

As a full-time cash buyer in Charleston, I must say that it has become SIGNIFICANTLY more difficult to find good deals over the past year. BUT,  My attitude is "When it gets harder, we must get better at it!"  We are pretty successful with rehab/flip and wholesaling. The key is having a system and a team.  Consistent effort and a heaping helping of Hustle gets it done. Oh, and "Cash is King".  I recommend you find a source of cash.  Hard Money, Private lender, line of credit, etc.

Cashflow properties are extremely difficult to come by in the Charleston area.  Charleston rental rates where working people live (off the peninsula/away from the beaches) are similar to other parts of the state, but the cost of acquisition is much higher.  For example, I am presented with "deals" every week that look something like this "Steady rents at $800 per month, priced to sell at ONLY $89,900, needs paint and carpet".  Contrast that with @Jason Hatfield 's example in Greenville, or properties in St. Louis, or Ft. Wayne, etc. Where we can purchase a performing rental property producing $800 per month for $40-50k.  These deals existing in Charleston, but when you see one, you better not hesitate, or it will be gone!!

@Melissa Searing If you make the move to Greenville, please let me know.  We would like to expand our business into the upstate.

Personally, I wouldn't move based on the difference in markets alone. I went to school in the upstate and always dreamed of settling in Greenville. Ended up moving to Charleston after graduation for work and spent 4 years there. I moved to Columbia last year for a new job but we still own a rental home in Summerville and have family living there. We have a great tenant and our house cash flows pretty well, and we bought is as a personal residence initially.

Rents have risen from what I'm seeing in the Summerville and North Charleston area and industry is booming with Boeing, Bosch, and many other large companies in town now. I would look in Summerville, Goose Creek areas. They are growing a lot, especially with Next on development moving in.

@Melissa Searing

I've lived in the upstate (Greenville/Greer/Spartanburg) all of my life.  It's a great place to live and investment.  However, I wouldn't move just to chase markets.  (Personally, sometimes I wish we lived closer to the ocean)

What type of investing are you interested in?  Greenville has some great opportunities and some opportunities I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.  True you can find the 10K dollar house, just be prepared for what comes with it.  It's like any place you look....you better know the area.  There are lots of new investors here and lots of excitement.

I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.

@Melissa Searing

  Well we are doing the opposite we are coming all the way from Portland Oregon to invest in Charleston... Remember its not all about cash flow.. the big money is made in appreciation and move up in Values.. cash flow is nice.. But the chance of significant appreciation is just as or more important. If I can stroll into town 4 times a year and in 3 days buy deals.. you living there can certainly do it.. Charleston is one of the Best markets in the country in my opinion. Just as hot as our market here in PDX which is also one of the best markets in the country and somewhat under the radar as well. Well very much under the radar..  Markets that have potential for big appreciation run up are not going to be 2% rule markets... you must weight these factors plus quality of life..

Originally posted by @Chris C. :

As an investor in Greenville I tend to agree with @Prag Patel .  Live where you are happy.  You can find deals in Charleston and with a good team in Greenville ( We can help you with this) ;) you could easily invest here.  My wife and I come to Folly almost monthly and it is just a 3 hour drive.  The Greenville market is very strong and I would definitely encourage you to research it.

 Hey Chris! Thanks so much for your response to my post. If you and your wife come to Folly, let me know if you'd be willing to meet up with Michele and I. We'd love to buy you two a beer (or lunch or a coffee :) ) and pick your brain about Greenville. Thanks!

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :

@Melissa Searing

  Well we are doing the opposite we are coming all the way from Portland Oregon to invest in Charleston... Remember its not all about cash flow.. the big money is made in appreciation and move up in Values.. cash flow is nice.. But the chance of significant appreciation is just as or more important. If I can stroll into town 4 times a year and in 3 days buy deals.. you living there can certainly do it.. Charleston is one of the Best markets in the country in my opinion. Just as hot as our market here in PDX which is also one of the best markets in the country and somewhat under the radar as well. Well very much under the radar..  Markets that have potential for big appreciation run up are not going to be 2% rule markets... you must weight these factors plus quality of life..

Thanks for your response Jay. May I ask how you are finding your deals that you stroll in to town and buy in 3 days? MLS?

@Melissa Searing

  well I would not exactly call it stroll.. I do fly into town.. I do very targeted direct mail.. and it is not like anything that I have seen anyone else do...

I put one into escrow yesterday... it popped up on the hot sheet... My realtor has me set up.. we had offer in within an hour went back and forth and ratified the contract last night.

Now again I am a cash buyer with cash in the bank so my proof of funds is very strong. So its not a letter form a HML or a pre approval from a bank its proof that I have the cash sitting in the bank. I use very large EM deposits.. customary deposits from my days in CA but when I went out in the mid west or even up here in Oregon.. first time I wrote a 20k EM check the realtors eye bugged out LOL..

And because now I have a little rep going with some of the better switched on realtors they give me first pass at the deals.. I did 3 rehabs that one realtor brought me last year that were killer deals far better than I do here in Oregon.  And of course I take very good care of said realtor..

So nothing earth shattering just leveraging my connections and my ability to pay cash.. And the other thing is I don't beat around the bush and make offers with contingencies hoping it all works  unless there is a title or zoning or variance issue I close what I contract for and when you get that rep.. the realtors are going to come to me first after all I am EASY MONEY TO them and they get the list back.. So you know the values there if we buy a fixer for 300 and resell at 550.. and they get 3% or in some cases he is double ending the front end.. that's 18k selling it to me and 16,500 on the resale.. Another reason I think many people miss the boat by not getting into the business as agents.. and thinking only of wholesaling unless you can be like Russ who is VERY good at what he does with their systems and team work.. the agent route is viable.. Any way I will be back out end of oct.

We have 9 new construction starts in Aug so about end of oct we can see water tight framed in homes.. Plus I love it there.. its a really cool town...

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :

@Melissa Searing

  well I would not exactly call it stroll.. I do fly into town.. I do very targeted direct mail.. and it is not like anything that I have seen anyone else do...

I put one into escrow yesterday... it popped up on the hot sheet... My realtor has me set up.. we had offer in within an hour went back and forth and ratified the contract last night.

Now again I am a cash buyer with cash in the bank so my proof of funds is very strong. So its not a letter form a HML or a pre approval from a bank its proof that I have the cash sitting in the bank. I use very large EM deposits.. customary deposits from my days in CA but when I went out in the mid west or even up here in Oregon.. first time I wrote a 20k EM check the realtors eye bugged out LOL..

And because now I have a little rep going with some of the better switched on realtors they give me first pass at the deals.. I did 3 rehabs that one realtor brought me last year that were killer deals far better than I do here in Oregon.  And of course I take very good care of said realtor..

So nothing earth shattering just leveraging my connections and my ability to pay cash.. And the other thing is I don't beat around the bush and make offers with contingencies hoping it all works  unless there is a title or zoning or variance issue I close what I contract for and when you get that rep.. the realtors are going to come to me first after all I am EASY MONEY TO them and they get the list back.. So you know the values there if we buy a fixer for 300 and resell at 550.. and they get 3% or in some cases he is double ending the front end.. that's 18k selling it to me and 16,500 on the resale.. Another reason I think many people miss the boat by not getting into the business as agents.. and thinking only of wholesaling unless you can be like Russ who is VERY good at what he does with their systems and team work.. the agent route is viable.. Any way I will be back out end of oct.

We have 9 new construction starts in Aug so about end of oct we can see water tight framed in homes.. Plus I love it there.. its a really cool town...

Well, Mr. Jay, you are exactly the reason why I posted my message in the first place and why I think I need to go to a different market. I don't have cash coming out of my ears like you. ;) In my post I mentioned how all-cash buyers in Charleston are beating everyone to the punch. People like you with cash are the ones beating people like me with limited resources! Boo hoo. I'm going to go cry in my Lowcountry Boil now. 

@Jason Dillard

  times they be changing in hot markets.. if you have a uneducated seller maybe this works. and you have plenty of those in all markets.. but if you have a seller who is being represented by a competent agent they are going to want real proof with your offer..

At least that's how I get my deals.. and I buy a lot of property every month in many states and use this same method.. Big CASH EM and CASH proof of funds IE bank statement in MY name with large amounts in the account.. when they have competing offers generally mine is accepted over others.  its a fact...

Jay is right. Cash is best to get an offer accepted when competing with others.  I prefer not to compete.  Hardest way to get get good deals is to make offers on listed properties.  The last house we bought never had a sign in yard.  Didn't need cash close on it.  I raised the cash to buy and remodel after the offer was accepted.  You can raise the money ahead of time with crowd funding, private placements, etc.   We prefer one lender on each house.  

BTW, we do send proof of funds with offers that are listed.  However, my low ball offer rarely gets the deal.  

@Jason Dillard

  Real Estate never sleeps I just got a call from my Realtor in Charleston at 8:30 am Sunday my time.. and tied up another infill project in the wagner terrace area.. off market and their is a wholesaler attached to the deal. My agent won't get paid on the front end on this particular transaction but he will get the listing on a 450k home.. So he is happy with that.

That market she a changing  going from old southern battered houses to new southern Charm...

If you watched the first episode of the reality show Southern Charm you will see that Shep bought a new construction.. that was ours  36 Aiken a really cool 4 story mod design. And my GC Troy got some airtime as well..

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :

@Jason Dillard

  Real Estate never sleeps I just got a call from my Realtor in Charleston at 8:30 am Sunday my time.. and tied up another infill project in the wagner terrace area.. off market and their is a wholesaler attached to the deal. My agent won't get paid on the front end on this particular transaction but he will get the listing on a 450k home.. So he is happy with that.

That market she a changing  going from old southern battered houses to new southern Charm...

If you watched the first episode of the reality show Southern Charm you will see that Shep bought a new construction.. that was ours  36 Aiken a really cool 4 story mod design. And my GC Troy got some airtime as well..

 You are my hero.  But I don't know Charleston.  I'm in Greenville, SC.  Your business sounds very similar to ours.  I know I could learn from you.  Teach me how to buy more houses some more. 

I value your posts too, Jay.  You've got the midas touch going!

As said above, cash is king! The last deal I found on the MLS showed up at 9pm on a Friday. I had an appt to see it at 9AM on Saturday and had a full price cash offer in by 10AM. I got it and the Realtor listing the property told me she was inundated by calls from other Realtors making offers. (why she didn't choose to make it a multiple offer situation, I don't know)

There aren't that many super deals that show up on the MLS and If my offer hadn't been cash and full-price I wouldn't have gotten that one. I love buyer clients with cash too. I feel it gives us a big edge over competing bids.

PS: I didn't actually have the cash, but I knew where I could get it with a partner if I needed to.    The contract was not contingent on financing but in the end I did finance it so as to do it myself without the partner.

Very interesting assessment of buy and hold potential in the Greenville/Simpsonville area.  Chris C...do you have recommendations for investor friendly agents in the area?  I've got family in Simpsonville, so this would give a great reason to visit again... :-)

@Melissa Searing

 We look forward to taking you up on your offer.  We talked just this weekend about making plans to get back down there in the coming weeks.

@Jade S.

I do have a recommendation.  My wife.  lol.  We own our own brokerage and use our investing experience to help others. Feel free to contact me.

@Melissa Searing

@Russ Scheider

Melissa  you should connect with Russ and his wife.. they are very active and successful in your market.

Also the area between charelston and N Charleston which I don't know the name of but there is a swath there of very inexpensive houses in what would be considered semi D neighborhood.. this area though now is probably a little rough but its got to turn over to much pressure.  you may want to check that out