Evaluating Rental Markets

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I've been looking to do my first out of state multifamily deal this year, and am curious to hear how others evaluate potential markets to look at. 

I have a long list of potential cities, but am having a difficult time narrowing that list down using any sort of consistent standards. I'd love to hear how some of you have faced this challenge, especially going into your first deal.

I googled things like "hot rental markets" and "fastest growing cities" and there were a bunch of lists that came up.  I compared the lists and talked to people and simply took the dive and invested in Boise- I had neighbors from CA move there, had some friends who invested there in the past and took a trip and liked the area.  Also, it is only an 1.5 hour flight/10 hour drive from home so somewhat in my backyard- that made a big difference for me.  I also found a great realtor who had lots of connections and insight.  Look where job growth is and what companies are out in whatever location you are interested in.   Places like Detroit and Milwaukee are cheap, but they come with their challenges.  Do you plan to use a property manager?  I did not use a property manager but I used a trusted friend to be in charge of the properties; he was able to move into the houses once they closed, take care of the little issues that needed to be fixed up and interview renters (we used Smart Move). I used the Rentometer app to assess rent rates; I found the Zillow estimates to be way off.  Due diligence plus leap of faith seems to paying off for me; all my properties were rented w/in 2-3 weeks of close and I had multiple renters in place, leading to positive cash flow.  

@Anshul Jain @Brian Campbell - Google and the BP forums are a good place to start for a broad search. Once you pick a market then dive in a little deeper. Again Google search or BP forum, but now that you know the market you can start reaching out to your potential "team" in that market as well. It's helpful to network with people that are actively involved. People like real estate investors, agents, wholesalers, property management companies, contractors, etc... If you just ask the places to invest then they will tell you. 

However before you start asking make sure you know what YOU want. Everyone is different. Some people want the high returns, but they're willing to put up with a lot more headache like high tenant turnover. Some people want lower returns with steady cash flow. Some people want SFR (single family residence) or multi family (2 units+). It all depends on what YOU want.

Once you have your market, and your contacts set in place you can start scanning the area for deals. Try and do the 100/10/3/1 rule. Look at 100 properties to find 10 potential deals. Make 3 offers on the deals and 1 will be accepted. I work in the Detroit area which is targeted as one of the hot markets in the mid-west. I can answer any questions you have. 

Also it's helpful to fly to the market to get a feel for the city and surrounding areas, but it's not necessary. If you have boots on the ground they can take photos and video of what you need to see. I do that for some of my clients and they've found it helpful. Good luck!