My partners and I are getting ramped up for acquisition mode and are trying to identify our target market. We are currently searching all areas within a two hour radius of where we live. What resources do you all use to perform your market research (i.e Websites, forums, business journals, etc) on an area and what lead indicators are you looking for to determine if an area is prime for investment (Job Growth, Income Growth, etc?).
Thank you all so much I look forward to getting to know many of you!
I'm new on BP.com and I am still very much in learning mode, but I am going through the process you're going through right now, and I thought I'd share what's helped me out so far. No doubt others will have tried-and-true methods, but here's what I'm using:
1. city-data.com: This has an amazing amount of detailed statistics about every city I've thrown at it. Unemployment rates / trends, poverty level, median household income, etc - this can provide you with a large portion of your data.
2. zillow.com: I use this to check on appreciation % and appreciation forecast of an area, whether it's currently a buyer's or seller's market, and average rents.
3. Comprehensive Annual Finance Reports (CAFR): You can google the city and state name, then just put "CAFR" afterwards, and usually the links to these will come right up. This is the city's annual report describing the state of finances. Contains lots of useful info like top employers, the way the city is spending money, projects planned, etc.
4. deptofnumbers.com: Seems to be lots of good info on this site - just discovered it recently and I'm using it mainly to check vacancy rates for an area.
5. huduser.gov: Also just started looking at this site, which is hosted by the Housing and Urban Development department. It actually looks very useful, as they have nicely-put together PDFs of a lot of info about a city - similar to the CAFR, but more condensed and easier to read.
6. neighborhoodscout.com: This is a paid site (and quite expensive if you're not a pro yet), but it provides a lot of the same data as city-data.com, only you can narrow it down to an ultra-specific geographic area (neighborhoods). I like the idea a lot as sometimes a few blocks can make the difference between a desirable part of town and something less so. You can still sometimes get some useful data for free in some markets, but mostly it's paywalled.
7. realtor.com: I'm using this site for a relatively small amount of data - # of homes currently for sale and # of homes for rent in an area, as well as Median Listing Price and Price per Sq Ft.
Hope this helps, good luck w/ your research!
@Ryan Wilkerson connect with the local commercial RE brokers, also get reports from Marcus & Millichap, CBRE, Colliers, etc. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census has good info. Check out my blog for more:
@Ryan Wilkerson - You can also call the Economic Development Committee of markets you are exploring to see what development is going on and what businesses are coming into the area. Local property management companies can give you some good insight of an area as well.
If you're from Hampstead, I would check out the Richmond VA area and see what you find. I went through similar analysis last year and Richmond came out looking pretty solid.
@Ryan Wilkerson How did your research go? Hopefully you also had a chance to look at some zip codes further south. The northern VA/MD areas always seemed overpriced. A quick comparison with other areas in the country can give you some comparable data points ... And maybe even entice you to invest out of state ... who knows? :-)
All the resources above are great, I'd also recommend reaching out to a couple brokers/realtors in the local areas within your 2 hour search radius, and if you can, attend a couple meetups in the area to hear about local markets straight from those investing in them. Their numbers and their perspective on their area will be more valuable than any online resource imo.
Best of luck in all your endeavors
Super helpful list of resources. Also new to this arena, and excited but nervous. Life begins outside of my comfort zone, and the more knowledge from data and others with more experience will help mitigate the fear.
@Joshua Fass Absolutely. I like to collect a lot of data before I make any big decision, which is what led me to find all these resources. You do have to be wary of "analysis paralysis", and I'm sure you can find good deals even in areas that don't look great on paper, but at least this can help make an educated decision.
Good luck to you!