Any tips for a demographic report?

8 Replies

My partner and I are trying to acquire a demographic report without spending $3,000/state. I know the data is freely available online via BLS, etc. but we don't have time to write python scripts to do a nationwide or southeast report. We're looking for stats including job growth, population growth, household formation. More stats are preferred, but those are the core three. Thoughts? 

We are interested in the data to help us pick a city to invest in commercial MF (5-50 units). Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Ohio are our top picks - but we're open minded!

@Frances Buerkens You can likely eliminate most of the states in the country...pick your top ten cities and start connecting with agents. We have access to RPR and probably Realist...pretty good stuff. You'll want to likely look for a commercial agent that knows how this stuff works. You'll be looking for a commercial trade area report. This isn't going to be the most comprehensive report in the world, but its a solid start. 

PM me if you want me to run one for your Ohio target areas to get a feel for what you'll get. 

@Brandon Sturgill Picking the top ten cities is not as simple as reading a Forbes article, unless I want to join the competitive (and overpaying) masses in cities crowded with investors. My network has not been dropping strong rehab options in my lap because the areas I am in have a poor price to rent ratio. If I am going to invest outside of my backyard, I would prefer to make a data driven decision about what city has potential for growth (based primarily on job growth, not just development of hipster coffee shops), while exhibiting sufficient cash flow to enter a deal. We don't need a very comprehensive report, which is why I listed 3 stats - but we would prefer it to be nationwide. 

I do like your suggestion of contacting a commercial agent, though my assumption (which may be wrong) is that it would be secondary to picking a 3-4 cities to investigate in depth. As a salesperson who lives on commission, I am not keen to waste a broker's time until I think the area is where I want to be. Thoughts? I am certainly open to Ohio.

@Andrew Hogan I am familiar with all of those resources as mentioned above. I have spent time exploring each of them to identify the metrics most relevant to our work. I am also keenly aware of the quirks in the data, such as the fact that a city that expands its geographic boundaries will exhibit "population growth" but not a change in "migration". Knowing the data is rife with tons of these flaws, I would prefer to work with a demographer who would (maybe?) correct for actual growth or at least help us interpret the results accurately. As a scientist, I have a healthy dubious relationship with data and all the wrong directions it can send you. Since there are agencies that undoubtedly have affordable data packages that cost a fraction of my personal hourly rate to assemble myself, I have no qualms about paying for the data. 

@Frances Buerkens Your 3 metrics are widely available for free from any one of a dozen sites, but I guess I'm not clear on why they matter so's all relative I guess. There are a dozen other metrics that are more important...and in short, a lot of this really is beside the point if you are a buy and hold investor. You can throw a dart at a dartboard and likely pick a winning property in a dozen metro areas. I understand drivers of economy, but as smaller investors (100 units and less) we fill a space where this does not matter so much...every new apartment in my city rents for $2,000+/mo. that's just how new construction goes. We buy existing inventory and the key is safe, clean, and appropirately priced. I've never had an issue with appreciation, equity build, debt paydown, or vacancy...I think a lot of investors over analyze this...the more important factor is to get in the game. I don't know your exact situation or preferred asset class, but would certainly be willing to chat more about the central Ohio market.

Best of luck.  

@Frances Buerkens I’ve analyzed Census data for every MSA in America with a population above 100,000. I’ll be happy to send you my spreadsheet, which covers 2005 thru 2017.

To get more recent than 2017, you have to go to BLS data, which I’m working on now.

PM me!