Tools for Market Screening

2 Replies

What are the first three rules of real estate (all together now) 1. LOCATION 2. LOCATION 3. LOCATION.

There are a host of subset variables to consider as well like, population growth and migration rates, job growth, the economic base, median income, rent rates etc. What tools do you use to research these kinds of variables to find markets that align with the criteria for you investment strategy? 

Here are some resources that I've come by where you can research markets on a micro and macro level. Let me know if you've used these before or if there are others that would fit on this list.

Richblockpoorblock.com: Has an interactive heat-map interface that tracks income, population changes, poverty levels, real estate taxes, owner occupancy rates and more. I like this site because its simple and visual. Measurements are scaled across a colored gradient that are plotted out on the map. You can get these measures down to the block, hence the name of the site. Its a paid service but you get 18 free clicks before you have to sign up. (Data Source: 2012-16 American Community Survey). 

City-data.com: Also has a heat map feature.The data set variables are super granular. They measure down to the quality of air and weather patterns! I'm not joking!  Be certain of what you're looking for before you dig into this site or you can find yourself in a black hole of data!  There's just so much to see. City-Data.com analyzes data from a variety of government and private sources. They are able to create detailed, informative profiles for every city in the United States. By all appearances, this seems to be a FREE site.

Niche.com: This site gets into the fabric of the communities/markets. Its more of humanistic perspective based on things that would be considered when researching the quality of living in a particular area e.i. the school systems, community life and activities, crime and safety and jobs. All are measured on an A to D scale. Probably one of the most valuable elements of this site is the review/comments section where you can get a lot of insight on your target market from people who have or currently live in those areas. Commentary of first hand experiences is something you don't get on other sites. You can also find data on metrics like median home value, median income, Owner vs Renter mix and rent medians as well. This is a FREE site.

Census Migration flowmapper: This is a great tool to research migration rates/patterns across the nation. State to stat and county to county. With out being on the ground to survey, this can give you a 30,000 foot view into where population growth opportunities are and where population declines are as well. Measure Outbound migration or inbound migration and net migration between two states/counties. There are 8 data sets of 4 year intervals starting with 2006 up to 20117. This is a FREE site.

Great resources, thanks for sharing! I have found value in following the path of progress and researching where the big dogs (Publix, chick-fil-a, Walmart) are opening new stores. The work they do before deciding where to open a new location is extensive. 

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