Interest in the Jacksonville, NC area

11 Replies

In my introductory post, I mentioned briefly that my career in the Marine Corps will most likely bring me to the Jacksonville, NC real estate market (Camp Lejeune) within the next couple months. I have been trying to familiarize myself with the market as best as I can without physically being there. My excitement and eagerness to get started has got me thinking about what to expect and what a good deal looks like in this area. I've drawn a couple assumption in my analysis. Average home costs look to be around 125k, but multifamily units seem to linger around 35-40k per unit. Conservatively, rents on a 1 bed, 1 bath are about $425 and 2 bed, 1 bath about $525. Bordering zip codes seem to have the same stats. Home ownership is around 60% so that leaves me to believe that there is a strong rental market. However, the inventory of multi-family houses appears to be low on the MLS. The military population also may come with more tenant turnover. I'd be curious to see if there are any off-market deals from current landlords or military personnel who have invested in the area.

My philosophy and approach:

I am set on rapidly acquiring buy and hold real estate. Multi-families will be my primary focus. This will be my first deal to get my feet wet, make a bunch of mistakes, and become more informed through action. The strategy I am thinking of using to get the ball rolling is housing hacking a multifamily, purchased with a conventional loan. I have 30k saved up for this purpose. I'd like to lock in a more favorable interest rate through living in the property as an owner occupant. I would be looking for another deal shortly after purchasing this initial property. This is when I would probably use my VA loan to purchase a second property, with the intention to house hack. This is a rough game plan of how I'd like the experience to go in the first couple months of living in Jacksonville. My long-term goal is to scale-up, use private money, and churn out more rental properties systematically. However, I know that there are many lessons to be learned and credibility to be won before getting to that point.

Any comments, questions, and critiques are highly appreciated. Thanks!

-Paddy

Paddy - Semper Fi! Great post. Did you know that you can use your VA to purchase up to a 4 unit bldg? I would jump in feet first and explore that option as that would most likely cover your mortgage and cash flow. You can live in one unit and rent out the other 3. This would allow you to exponentially expand your "streams of income" which is ultimately what we strive for in REI.

Good luck and let me know if there's anything I can help you with! Ohrahh!!

To add to my previous post - Consider offering your future potential residents "discounts" on their monthly rent if they commit to a 2-3 yr lease.

Best of luck in the real estate investing universe! 

@Jorge Ubalde Semper Fi! And thank you for the input. I am definitely going to explore my options with the VA loan as it pertains to multifamily houses. I know that they are limited in their ability to purchase fixer-uppers because the property needs to meet certain standards. With regards to discounting rents in exchange for longer leases, how would that work if the tenants were military and received orders to PCS? They could potentially bail on the lease and receive a discount. It's a good idea, but maybe only effective for non-military tenants, right?

Paddy - copy that! re: VA entitlement, i was thinking of a "finished" 4-unit turn key property. I understand the VA can be a pain in the neck with their particularities when it comes to buying homes needing work.

I know every rental market is different, i figured since we both know when we PCS we usually stay put 2-3 years. I wouldn't offer a discounted lease for military personnel who have been there for longer than 2 years, i would only offer the "discounted" lease for those new service members who are looking for a place to call home. I've been out for 17 years, but I'm still working in the DoD and I can tell you I have noticed there has been a subtle downtick in service members PCSing every 3 years as in the past. 

Hello Padric,

I am a Licensed real estate agent for NC. I live in Jacksonville, NC so my main focus is this market area if you have any questions regarding the rental market here. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help

Yanet Lewis, Real Estate Agent

@Padric Lynch sounds like you have a plan, but have you looked at the multi family that exists in Jacksonville?

@Bill F. I've only been able to look insofar as the mls- linked websites and craigslist. The inventory looks pretty slim from those sources. Once I move into the area, I'll be looking for the off market opportunities. Do you primarily buy and hold multi-families?

@Padric Lynch  

I invest in SFRs in the Jville area due to the low multifamily inventory and what does exist being in the less desiarble parts of town.

If you want, shoot me a message and we can talk specifics. Since you want to do a house hack, what unit you are going do, their deployment cycle, your goals ect all have a lot to do with what will work for you.

@Padric Lynch Semper Fi

I currently have a rental property in Hubert while I am stationed in Okinawa. I will be moving to Camp Pendleton next but will eventually be moving back to the Camp Lejeune Area to retire out of. We have a lot of the same interests in the area and have been conducting a lot of research in that area. My family friend, fellow investor, and property manager has been helping me out. I can put you in contact with him if you want. He can answer you questions or at least point you in the right direction. One thing he told me is that the area is trending towards 4 bedroom SFR for higher rental demand.

Welcome to the area. While far from experienced, I’ve been doing the rental game around Lejeune for a number of years. Some observations:

- I don’t recommend offering discounts for multi-year leases. Risk with military orders. I’ve done 2-yr leases in the past but that is the longest I would do.
- Annual rent increases are a no-go in this area. A lot of competition and military families are used to moving so the thought of boxing everything up and changing addresses is no big deal.
- Multi-family obviously can work but there is a plethora of cheap single family homes and the multi-families in the area are mostly (not exclusively) in less desirable area. Those that choose multi-family do so, in my opinion, because they have no other choices.
- I cringe at the stigma attached to military members (as a military man myself) but stereotypes often exist for a reason. You are dealing with a young population with decent income (compared to the national median for a given age/education level) that have left home for the first time. They would otherwise be in college trashing a dorm or still in their parents’ basements. You get what you pay for.

I’ll leave more thoughts later.

Paddy, 

It sounds like you have been researching and figuring out the local Jacksonville market pretty well and the posts above offer some good advice. It is difficult to reasonable predict how long a military tenant will stay in a lease. I have had tenants stay 6 months and deploy. Their spouse decides to move home with family to save money and be around family instead of in a military town where they do not have strong friendships yet. It is their right to break that lease, but that leaves the owner with potentially an extra vacancy month. I am a military guy and like renting to military members. There are just some things that must be learned with each niche of the rental market. They can be considered challenges, costs of doing business, even opportunities. There are a number of ways to keep a unit rented and reduce vacancies. 

James

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