We’ve all heard it a million times – when it comes to business, location is key. So, when Ashley and I decided to take the idea of investing in real estate, we had several questions about the rental property location and the community in which it can be found.
1: Is the Community Growing or Shrinking?
This question seems pretty basic, but we wanted to know if the community is getting bigger or if people are leaving. We see our investments very objectively, clinically even. So, to be honest, we want to buy where things are living, growing, and thriving, not dying away.
What we’ve learned so far is that our rental property’s community is not shrinking. We’re not sure if it’s growing.
2: Is the Community Older or Younger in Age?
We don’t want to buy an older home in a community that’s even older. If everyone who leaves nearby is in the last quarter of their life, is that a community we want to get into right now?
Sure, retirement communities like Sun City here in Texas are booming, but they have thousands of homes, age restrictions, and a tradition. The community our prospective house is in is not like that, so age was important. A mix of people of all ages would be ideal, and we want new families with kids to be passing through.
What we’ve learned so far is that the community does have some younger people, but the demographic averages in their 50s. We’ll have to take a look ourselves to make a decision.
3: What Economic Developments Are Happening in the Area?
The geographical area where our rental property is located is known for its casinos. Ok, we’re looking at a house in Oklahoma, not Vegas or Louisiana. So, we want to know if the economy is growing. We want to know if a business out there is creating jobs and if money is coming into the area.
What we’ve learned so far is that one of the major roads is getting a pretty significant expansion and that there are two growing business centers, each about 30 miles away – one east and one south.
4: Are Other Homes For Sale or Rent Nearby?
Where we live now, homes don’t go up for sale; they go from “coming soon” to “contract pending.” Real estate here is HOT, and homes don’t stay on the market for very long.
While I don’t expect the housing market in Oklahoma to be quite as dynamic, I would like to see that a market exists. Are there other homes selling nearby? How long are houses on the market? If we want to rent our property out, are there other homes for rent in the area?
Homes for sale or rent show activity, and as I mentioned before, activity is a good sign and an indication of life.
What we’ve learned so far is that there are several houses and open lots for sale, but some of those houses/lots have been on the market for quite a while.
5: How Close is the Property to Retail and Other Business Centers?
As a business owner, I know the importance of traffic. Businesses won’t succeed where there’s no traffic and no one is walking in the door. Businesses or business centers like malls, retail shops, and restaurants, are a good sign that a community is thriving. After all, if companies don’t make money, they close down, and that’s a good indication of the health of an economy. I think.
What we’ve learned so far is that there aren’t many businesses in the area. However, we have to take 2 things into consideration:
- The population size, which is less than 3000 people in the town, might not require much commerce, and
- The nature of the community, which is possibly a destination/vacation area town.
Given these two things, it could be that residents commute 20-30 minutes to work, or, that there’s a single source of commerce for the area. Or… the community is dying a slow death and won’t realize it until we see it in person.
6: How Close is the Property to Entertainment venues?
Even small towns have a local watering hole where people hang out. How small is too small to have a gas station? I don’t know. But I like to be entertained – go to movies, out to eat, those sorts of things – so I know a renter or vacationer would like them too.
What we’ve learned so far is that the nearest movie theater to our rental property location is a disappointing 29.3 miles away, the nearest gas station is 11.2 miles, and the closest McDonald’s is 11.3. The good news? Within that 12 mile radius, we are able to find a Mexican restaurant, a grocery store, and Sonic.
7: What’s the Closest Airport?
Since Ashley and I don’t live close to the proposed rental property location, I wanted to know if I could fly there and back easily. Since we live about 45 minutes from Austin’s airport, air travel isn’t super-convenient, but it often beats driving.
Well, the closest airport to the property is a good a bad thing. On the one hand, the nearest airport is less than two miles from the house. On the other hand, it’s a small airport that no airline flies into.
A close airport also means travelers from around the country can reach a destination, but here, that’s not the case.
What we’ve learned so far is that the closest airport, for all practical purposes, is DFW in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, which is almost 90 miles away. Is that a deal breaker? No. But it sure eliminates hopping a local flight to check out the property from the conversation.
8: Do They Have Wi-Fi?
I run my businesses from home. Actually, I run them from wherever I have internet access.
A few years ago, Ashley and I took a short vacation to Fredericksburg, Texas so we could tour the wineries, relax, and “get away.” Even though we wanted a retreat from our fast-paced lives, we still wanted to watch movies on Netflix. And, to do that, we needed wi-fi.
So, whether renters want to get away or they want to live at the property full-time, internet access is kind of a big deal.
What we’ve learned so far is that we can get DirecTV service at the rental property, but not internet or phone through AT&T. And, the companies that do offer internet service to the area are expensive. We’ve been spoiled by our 1GB fiber internet here in Austin.
Here are some resources and websites we used to obtain this information. We also spoke with family members who live and work in the area and who’ve seen the property in person. As of today, we’ve not been there ourselves.