Johnson City, TN -- Insights Would Be Appreciated

6 Replies

Hello All - I'd appreciate any insights into the Johnson City, TN rental market.   

I have visited the area as its just an hour north from my comfort zone of Western North Carolina but remain on the fence about the area. For those who know it well --- is demand strong for units in the $650 to $750 range (2 beds)? How long does it typically take to fill a vacancy? Is annual rent growth happening? Is there oversupply or undersupply? Any trap doors I should be aware of or issues that would give one pause?

Thanks in advance for your insights. 

Well I was going to wait on experienced investors to chime in but since there's a bit of radio silence going on, I'll tell you what little bit I do know. 

Disclaimer: I have not yet done my first deal. This is simply info based on REI meetings, word of mouth, and general knowledge of the area.

Johnson city is home to East Tennessee State University (ETSU). So alot, if not most, of the apartments around there are rented by students. Also nearby is the VA Medical center, as well as Johnson City Medical Center. They're all in close proximity so this is probably your money area. Apartments rent for ~$300 per bedroom in this portion of the city. The neighborhoods down the street from the school aren't great but i don't think they're terrible. If I had to guess i'd say about a C class.

I do know that alot of the apartment complexes near the school stay fairly packed and are pretty well within the price range you mentioned. The lower end of that spectrum probably being your sweet spot. Last year, ETSU was overbooked on student housing and was turning people away forcing them to look for housing elsewhere. With the school growing and the surrounding complexes staying full, I would dare say that the place is in dire need of more affordable housing.

There are other parts to Johnson City. There's higher end places to it, but the university area is the only part I have any sort of knowledge on. Hopefully this helps. That's about all i can come up with right off.

Thank for you comments Heath -- I appreciate it.

Johnson City has an REI group. You could probably get better info from someone there. Here's the link to their Meetup page: Johnson City REI

JC is likely the strongest or near the top regarding best market in Tri-Cities area. I haven't heard of any major issues, but as always, it depends on location, rental quality and price. 

Rent growth seem to be picking up as the job market is becoming very tight again. Local radio stations advertise job fairs every hour it seems, so your $650-$750 2BR range units would be good fit for the $10-$20 per hour workforce now that business owners are competing for workers and wages are rising. 

Let me know if you have more specific questions. 

What about Bristol? Virginia intermont went bankrupt and a new investor bought the college and plans on turning it back into a 4 year college.

@Marcus Johnson

Bristol, VA, and Bristol, TN, are mutually exclusive. I don't follow either closely, but just being observant living a few miles down the road, it's a lukewarm market. As always, it depends on location and asset quality (old & run down vs new & HGTV shiny). Bristol is an older small city, so lots of historic charm but lots of rehab in much of the inventory. Both have had decent CRE growth - I-I-81 VA Exit 7 & I-81 TN Exit 69 (The Pinnacle).

I know Bristol, VA, has had some economic issues, slight population loss, etc. Seems I hear about city economic issues related to planning commission issues on a regular basis. Probably best you google for specifics.

Seems Kingsport or Johnson City are stronger markets for now, but again, that depends on your goals and what your acquisition target(s). For example, if someone built or retrofitted a building in either Bristol into trendy lofts or apartments, I'd wager they would be popular. 

Virginia Intermont had trouble for many years. Most kids in this area go to ETSU, Virginia Tech, UVA or Northeast State. It's been ~1.5yr since college was purchased at auction, so we shall see what develops - if anything. 

DM me if you need any specific info. 

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