Let’s take a look at the top 10 things you should consider when searching for the right rental property.
1. Neighborhood. The quality of the neighborhood in which you buy will influence both the types of tenants you attract and your vacancy rate. For example, if you buy in a neighborhood near a university, the chances are that your pool of potential tenants will be mainly made up of students and that you will face vacancies on a fairly regular basis during summer. If you purchase a home in a neighborhood of three to five bedrooms, you will most likely attract families.
2. Property Taxes. Property taxes are higher on a rental property than a primary residence. High property taxes may not always be a bad thing if the neighborhood is an excellent place for long-term tenants, but the two do not necessarily go hand in hand. Be sure that you choose a home that can be rented to make profit and cover property taxes.
3. Schools. If you’re dealing with family-sized accommodations, you need to consider the quality of local educational facilities. If a property is good, but the nearby schools are poor or non-existent, it can affect the value of your investment. Although you will be mostly concerned about the monthly cash flow, the overall value of your rental property comes in to play when you eventually sell it.
4. Crime. No one wants to live next door to a hot spot for criminal activity. Go to the police or the public library for accurate crime statistics for various neighborhoods, rather than asking the owner who is hoping to sell the property to you. Items to look for are vandalism rates, serious crimes, petty crimes and recent activity (either up or down). You might also want to ask about the frequency of a police presence in your neighborhood.
5. Job Market. Locations with growing employment opportunities tend to attract more people – meaning more tenants. To find out how a particular area rates, go directly to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics online or to your local library. If you notice an announcement for a new major company moving to the area, you can rest assured that workers will flock to the area.
6. Amenities. Check the potential neighborhood for current or projected parks, malls, gyms, movie theaters, public transport hubs and all the other perks that attract renters. Cities, and sometimes even particular areas of a city, have loads of promotional literature that will give you an idea of where the best blend of public amenities and private property can be found.
7. Future Development. The county planning department will have information on all the new development that is coming or has been zoned into the area. If there are many new apartment buildings, business parks or malls going up, it is probably a good growth area. However, watch out for new developments that could hurt the price of surrounding properties by, for example, causing the loss of an activity-friendly green space. Additional new housing could also provide competition for your property.
8. Number of Listings and Vacancies. If there is an unusually high number of listings for one particular neighborhood, this can either signal a seasonal cycle or a neighborhood that has “gone bad.” Make sure you figure out which it is before you buy in. You should also determine whether you can cover for any seasonal fluctuations in vacancies. Similar to listings, the vacancy rates will give you an idea of how successful you will be at attracting tenants. High vacancy rates force landlords to lower rents in order to attract tenants. Low vacancy rates allow landlords to raise rental rates.
9. Rents. Rental income will be the bread-and-butter of your rental property, so you need to know what the average rent in the area is. If charging the average rent is not going to be enough to cover your mortgage payment, taxes and other expenses, then you have to keep looking. Be sure to research enough to gauge where the area will be headed in the next five years.
10. Natural Disasters. Insurance is another expense that you will have to subtract from your returns, so it is good to know just how much you will need to carry. If an area is prone to hurricanes or flooding, paying for the extra coverage can eat away at your rental income.
Side notes: If you are set on a particular neighborhood, try to visit it at different times on different days of the week to see your future neighbors in action. Condos are considered low maintenance because the condo association is there to help with many of the external repairs, leaving you to worry only about the interior. Because condos are not truly independent living units, however, they tend to garner lower rents and tend to appreciate more slowly than single-family homes. Generally single-family homes tend to attract longer-term renters.
As a landlord, you want to find a property, property management company and a neighborhood that is going to attract the best type of demographic. Give Southern Coast Management a call: 1-800-978-4988