I live in the UK, but am trying to invest in the US. Once I've found some properties, what's a good way to research the area the properties are situated in?
One useful resource I have found is http://www.bestplaces.net/ which gives plenty of information about every aspect of an area. However, the info is at a general level.
For example, a US city might be listed as having high violent crime. But that will be for the whole city. There will be pockets that are perfectly safe, which the site doesn't do a good job of reflecting.
Are there any other ways of researching an area?
Its quite difficult to research areas to invest in that you have never been to and rely on internet stats to evaluate. Personally, I haven't ever bought anything in an area where I've never visited; but I've met several people who have and have researched the area before buying and never visited.
To know street by street, it will be hard work and a lot of research, but with enough persistence, you can find pockets and areas that are reasonable. Sometimes, you can do some googling and read about particular areas on sites like the city data forums. Often locals will post their thoughts, I wouldn't trust everything they say, but it might give you a reasonable idea. http://www.city-data.com/forum/
The next would be to find properties and start calling management companies, see what their screening requirements and minimum standards would be to manage that property. It is important to note that some PMs won't manage b/c its out of their area, whereas some won't manage b/c the area is too rough. After calling a good number of PMs, it should give you a reasonable idea of the location of the property and who will be living there.
I've found that most remote investors who haven't visited their properties have better luck with B areas or higher.
Best of luck,
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