Kelso to Vancouver, Washington state

7 Replies

Hello everybody :)

My name is Drew, and. I am hoping to buy my first duplex soon.  I am currently in Vancouver, Washington, and am wondering if people think that buying multi-family housing in Kelso Washington would be a good idea? Kelso is 40 minutes north of Vancouver, and is on a major interstate (I-5) but doesn't have a lot of economic draw to it (that I know of), so I wonder if people who work in Vancouver would be interested in living in Kelso or if I should really make a point to buy within a 20 minute commute to growing city centers?

Whatever advice/info you can spare,would be great! Thanks in advance :)

-Drew

The only thing I know about Kelso is that there cops are pretty strict about speeding on the highway @ 2am. 350$ lesson right there. That being said I understand your pain when it comes to investing in the Vancouver , Portland ares. i helped a buddy run numbers on a duplex in Vancouver and they just didn't work. I think investing in Kelso would probably work. It is going to be important to run the numbers but @Brandon Turner  invests in Aberdeen and is successful and its a lot more in the middle of no where then Kelso. Make sure to read The Ultimate Beginners Guide if you haven't. Lots of good stuff

Drew, I invest and live in Cowlitz county, so let's see what wisdom I can impart.  

First, I don't see Longview/Kelso as a commute radius to Vancouver.  Very few of our tenants or friends work in Vancouver.  Second, Kelso is fairly landlord unfriendly; permits take forever and the utilities procedures are counter productive to tenants being able to afford the deposits and rates.  I'd look at Longview before Kelso, or research Kalama or Castle Rock.  Third, Cowlitz county is very economically depressed with little light at the end of the tunnel.  Young people can't afford or don't want to live here, retirees are happy with the status quo and are unwilling to make changes to make it a more livable.  The schools suck, there are no jobs, and it is a low cost living area so all the unemployable riff-raff moves to the area.  Fourth, I'm not impressed with the property mangers here, I don't' see any of them hitting it out of the park.  

Any investment would need to be a cash flow play rather than appreciation.  It is possible to make the numbers work, likely more than in Vancouver.  Location is key.  I'm always happy to drive by an address and give by best assessment, I do it for others.

Thank you both, Rusty and Michele, for your insight! It's nice to hear I'm not the only one who feels that Vancouver doesn't have a lot of great cash-flow potential, right now. @Michele, I've found that a lot of landlords in the area include utilities in the price of rent; do they do this as a work-around to utilities being so expensive and difficult for tenets? Also, when you say permits take forever - what kinds of permits? I have lots to learn, so I'm not familiar with what permits are involved. Also, we'd probably move into one of the units, to be able to use a FHA loan, so I'm wanting a nicer neighborhood. I've heard that north Kelso (around exit 40, and up to the Lexington area) are pretty decent, with lower crime, would you agree with this? Also, I'll make sure to watch my speed, when I drive that stretch of freeway at night :)

Thanks!!

-Drew 

@Drew Barrett You are more likely to get a good deal on a fixer upper SFR than a plex in Vancouver. However, there are always tired landlords ready to get out of the business. Keep your eyes open and you might find something. How are you doing your search? I would recommend you find the neighborhood that appeals to you and start there. Especially since you want to live in one of the units. Have you thought about Ridgefield, Battleground, and Camas as well? I agree with @Michele Fischer  that you won't see people commuting to work in Vancouver from Kelso or Longview. Vancouver is good for landlords and we have a strong rental association here... Clark County Rental Association.

Originally posted by @Drew Barrett :

Thank you both, Rusty and Michele, for your insight! It's nice to hear I'm not the only one who feels that Vancouver doesn't have a lot of great cash-flow potential, right now. @Michele, I've found that a lot of landlords in the area include utilities in the price of rent; do they do this as a work-around to utilities being so expensive and difficult for tenets? Also, when you say permits take forever - what kinds of permits? I have lots to learn, so I'm not familiar with what permits are involved. Also, we'd probably move into one of the units, to be able to use a FHA loan, so I'm wanting a nicer neighborhood. I've heard that north Kelso (around exit 40, and up to the Lexington area) are pretty decent, with lower crime, would you agree with this? Also, I'll make sure to watch my speed, when I drive that stretch of freeway at night :)

Thanks!!

-Drew 

 Looks like you aren't successfully tagging people to keep them in the conversation.  When you type @ and the start of their name, do you see names pop up in the lower left hand corner?  You need to click on the name.  It doesn't always work for me.

Exit 40 is very low income, but I'd agree that toward Lexington or in the "hills" between the freeway and the high school are good.  West Longview is pretty good except for pockets too, and the Terry Taylor area, as is the Old West Side and New West Side.  You don't need to worry about crime (unless you want really nice things that could get wrecked or stolen), think about the quality of neighbors and livability.  Nice is defined by better schools, so watch the school boundaries.

You'll be commuting to Vancouver?  Have you looked at Woodland, Battle Ground, or Kalama?

I'm not an expert on when permits are needed, I leave that to my handyman, but examples are to build a porch or take down a big sign, etc.

We include utilities because we have had too many tenants leave us holding the bag.  They can get a few months behind, move out, and the city goes after the landlord harder than the tenant.  It becomes a lien if landlords don't pay up, and they won't transfer it to a new tenant until the landlords pay up.  Our policy now is "you can add it on to rent and avoid the city deposits, or you can pay city deposits AND an extra deposit to us."

Once again, thank you so much, Michele, Brandon, Marcia, and Rusty, for taking the time to help me out with this question! 

Also, @Michele Fischer  

thank you for your great specific info about the Kelso/Longview area, and for showing me how to successfully tag people in posts =).

I got a few more books that I want to read through, and then will feel comfortable making my first offer.  Has anyone noticed if there's a specific time/season of year that's best to buy in?  I feel like around the winter/Christmas months, prices go down, but I don't know if this is accurate.

Once again, thank you all so much!

-Drew

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