Upcoming trip to Allentown - Looking for advice and contacts!

19 Replies

Hello Pennsylvania Investors,

I'm planning a day trip to the Lehigh Valley area within the next two weeks. Specifically, I'm considering investing in Allentown rental properties, and I wanted to drive around, see places, and get a feel for the city.

I'd like to chat with some of you before my trip, and I think it would be great to meet face-to-face with anyone who'd like to grab a cup of coffee, or a beer (or both!). 

Any areas that are a must see? Any areas that I should absolutely avoid? I'm combing my way through all the posts in the sub-forums here to see what others have said - but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask again. Recommendations to brokers, property management companies, wholesalers, etc, area all welcome.

Anyone interested in talking/meeting?

Hey Matthew, 

I'm actually in the middle of purchasing my first rental property myself in Allentown.  It's a 3 unit building, all 1 bedrooms with decent cash flow.  I have off from work for the next two weeks so if you do want to get together, Ill go out for a beer!

Was there a reason you were only interested in Allentown over Easton, Bethlehem and surrounding Lehigh Valley areas?

Matthew, I'd love to hear what you discover.  I am driving to Easton today to do the exact same analysis you are planning.  I live out of state, but come to NYC about 3 times per month if you want to compare notes and talk shop.

Thanks!  Tom

@Franco Urbaez congrats on the rental property! I think that I'm going to plan my trip for either April 29th or 30th. If you're around town either of those days I'd be happy to meet!

My focus at the moment is on Allentown, but I'm open to looking at other parts of Lehigh Valley. I like what is going on with the NIZ - the city seems to be setting itself up for good things. Over the past 10 years, the city has grown "younger" - 53% of residents are under the age of 34. Owner occupancy is only 48%, so a lot of renters is how I read that.

@Thomas Zaremba let me know how your trip to Easton goes. I'd love to compare notes, let's meet the next time you are in NYC.

@Matthew W. , I'll be free that weekend, just let me know when works for you.

@Kenneth Shelley , I PM'd you, I'd like for you to look over this deal I'm working on to see if I've missed something in my analysis and what you think of the neighborhood since you've lived in Allentown.  I'll buy you a beer ;)

@Jonathan Emery , I've been very interested in joining a local REIA group. Can you send me details? A website link maybe?

@Thomas Zaremba , For the most part, I wouldn't have minded buying a property in Easton.  In fact, I put in offers on two properties in Easton but a couple of factors drove me to invest in Allentown over Easton, ultimately:

  • Location - I will be managing my own property, so this was key.  Allentown property 17 min vs Easton 40 min from home
  • Crime - The area I was looking into Easton was on the border crossing into Jersey.  I had a close friend who lived in Easton his whole life tell me that gangs from Jersey come over and make some noise in the neighborhood, if you know what I mean.  That's not to say that Allentown doesn't have its own issues, but certain areas are better than others.  I'm buying in a better area - not the best, but certainly not the worst as would have been the case in Easton.
  • Tenant availability - Easton is in the process of devoting a large sum of money in renovating the Old Silk Mill building into a 148 unit apartment complex.  Though there are pros and cons to this as a real estate investor, I erred on the side of caution and didn't want to be competing against such a large outlay of cash into luxury apartments as I imagine that quality tenants are already hard to come by in that city.

Those were the main factors contributing to my decision to choose the west end of allentown over center city Easton.  But I would still invest in Easton nonetheless if the right property in the right location was available.  I just hadn't found it.  Bethlehem was never really on my radar from the start.  Hadn't found any properties I liked from my real estate agents in that area so never looked into it much.  Hope that helps!

@Thomas Zaremba Easton isn't very big, it's kind of dead compared to Allentown. There is tremendous growth in Allentown with plenty of businesses coming back to the revitalized downtown. Also, there is a massive waterfront development that has just begun in Allentown which will be a great amenity to the area and draw people out of the suburbs and into the city. Bethlehem is also a great choice, it's more expensive than Easton and Allentown. 

I just put a property under contract in center city Nazareth (2 unit).  Anyone have any contractor recommendations for that area?  Shoot me a PM if you do.

Thanks!  Tom

@Thomas Zaremba : I grew up in Nazareth. Two contractors that I have always heard about growing up are Diefenderfer and Ed Mertz Contracting, though I have never worked with them.

I currently live in Los Angeles, but plan on investing back in Nazareth in the near future.

Jeremy,

I said I would give you a shout as things moved forward.  I bought 5 properties here in the Easton Nazareth area so far this year.  I used the Diefenderfer's for a lot of the contracting on my own home, and they are great.  Thanks again!  Are you back in the area by chance?

Tom

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