Investing in Fitchburg, MA

18 Replies

I am reaching out to all of the Massachusetts investors on BP regarding investing in multi-family properties in Fitchburg, MA. I have found quite a few multis in Fitchburg, but do not know much about the area. What are your thoughts?

I recommend that you enlist the aid of a local real estate agent who knows the area well. There are some OK areas and some high crime areas to avoid. Some streets are clearly in decline, although the university is pushing hard to improve the neighborhoods adjacent to the campus. The commuter rail station is a plus. Most of your prospective tenants will be students or have Section 8 vouchers, which can be an advantage, since you are guaranteed at least a portion of the rent.

@Justin Silverio Just looking into all possibilities. I am currently assisting a friend with a condo renovation in Boxboro, and decided to research neighboring areas. I did receive an e-mail from you recently, so I appreciate you keeping me informed of your deals.

@Thomas Tibbitts I was wondering about the tenant base, so thanks for clarifying that I can draw students. When you mentioned that the university is trying to improve the adjacent neighborhoods, what do you mean? Are they assisting financially? What is the average rent for a 2 bed 1 bath 800sqft apartment?

@Brian Ortins

I don't invest there myself but a quick look at rents there says to me that the units you are talking about probably mostly rent in the $700-800 range.

There is a big spread though so probably if you have a slightly bigger unit in a better part of town you are getting a little over $1000 but if you are in a crappy part $700 will be tough.

You might want to talk with @Brian Lucier who heads the landlord association in North Worcester county.

Regarding students as was mentioned by @Paul Timmins most universities have an off-campus housing listing. Monitor that for a bit to see what is advertised. Look at them on a map and see where they fall. Local property managers that deal with students will have their own rental listings online. If you find a real estate agent that does rentals to the student population they have the best info on where the students want to live. They may not be the same agents that you want to go to for purchase if they deal mostly in rentals.

Note that the difference in pricing in student areas can also be due to furnished vs unfurnished rentals. online rental databases don't distinguish between the two. I urge caution on the idea that you can get much more you can get from students, I haven't seen that, I think it depends on where you are. In RI I don't find students pay lots more then year round tenants but it may be true around Boston. I don't know Fitchburg. Our area in RI it's 400-500/bedroom pretty steady over the past couple years. Also students are a special rental population with some unique issues so you might look at some of the issues before making up your mind on your target area.

@Brian Ortins

I think it all depends on what type of tenants you are comfortable with. As others have pointed out, Fitchburg is a pretty rough area, but there may be some good opportunities around Fitchburg State University. Having looked at some properties in Fitchburg, I would just say be careful when looking at the neighborhoods. It's not uncommon to see shelters/rehab facilities in residential areas.

If you're interested in places outside of Fitchburg, neighboring Leominster might be worth a look too.

  • Here are some links to information on Fitchburg. Unemployment rate stands out to me.
  • Fitchburg is the third largest city in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 40,318 at the 2010 census. Fitchburg is home to Fitchburg State University as well as 17 public and private elementary and high schools. Wikipedia
  • Area: 28.1 sq miles (72.78 km²)
    Population: 40,411 (2012)
    Unemployment rate: 10.2% (Jul 2013) Colleges and Universities: Fitchburg State College, Henris School of Hair Design Fitchburg economic development plan
    http://www.ci.fitchburg.ma.us/government/departments/economic_development/default.cfm
    Assessor maps and tax rates
    http://fitchburgma.gov/government/departments/assessors/assessormain.cfm

    Fitchburg Housing Authority
    50 Day St., Fitchburg, MA 01420 978-345-1963

    Link to Section 8 Rents page 23 has rents for Fitchburg
    http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/fmr/fmr2013p/FY2013B_SCHEDULE_B.pdf
  • Originally posted by Paul Sorgi:

  • Here are some links to information on Fitchburg. Unemployment rate stands out to me.

  • Fitchburg is the third largest city in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 40,318 at the 2010 census. Fitchburg is home to Fitchburg State University as well as 17 public and private elementary and high schools. Wikipedia
  • Area: 28.1 sq miles (72.78 km²)


    Population: 40,411 (2012)
    Unemployment rate: 10.2% (Jul 2013) Colleges and Universities: Fitchburg State College, Henris School of Hair Design

    Fitchburg economic development plan
    http://www.ci.fitchburg.ma.us/government/departments/economic_development/default.cfm
    Assessor maps and tax rates
    http://fitchburgma.gov/government/departments/assessors/assessormain.cfm

    Fitchburg Housing Authority
    50 Day St., Fitchburg, MA 01420 978-345-1963

    Link to Section 8 Rents page 23 has rents for Fitchburg
    http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/fmr/fmr2013p/FY2013B_SCHEDULE_B.pdf

  • Great info Paul!

    I was having a hard time finding the sec 8 rents when I was looking some stuff up recently so that was especially useful, thanks.

    Any MA investors currently using a property manager in or around Fitchburg? I have seen posts on what questions to ask, but would like to hear about others experiences.

    @Brian Ortins - I wanted to follow-up with you and see if you have made any investments in Fitchburg since this post. Also curious where you landed with property management.

    I've been investing solely in Fitchburg (which only amounts to 2 multifamily buildings) but am working on my next deal so I'd be curious to see what your thoughts are on Fitchburg in general.