Real estate investing requires care and attention to many issues. One is knowing where and what some sources of critical information. Let’s review some of the sources you should be checking. They are:
The U.S. census provides readily available information on a number of topics you should be aware of when investing. The U.S. Census site provides population growth; economic diversity, growth and trends; education facts; demographic facts and trends (including age, sex, education, income, rental rates, occupancy of single family homes, occupancy of rental property, and more).
Local news sources should be reviewed to see what’s developiing in education, crime, and employment. Also, you will often uncover important growth factors.
Most police stations can give you crime information on areas and sometimes even on specific properties.
A map review will identify important transportation considerations. If you follow this up with the Department of Transportation (DOT) you will often be able to get specific traffic data on important roads.
Loopnet is a good place to go to see what similar properties in similar areas are asking for price, show for expense profile, and offer for income.
The local Apartment Finder, Apartment Guide, and other Internet Listing Services (ILS) can provide details on rent based on square footage, amenities, age of the property, and location of the property.
Tax records will show recent actual sales prices and current taxes for a prospective property and for competitors.
You can go to the local Multiple Listing Service to find out specific information about housing that may have important consequences for an investment.
Go to the local schools to find out facts about test performance, size of classroom and other issues that may effect rentability.
Check with the county or city zoning authority to find out if there are important developments or regulations to consider.
Check local public transportation routes and schedules.
Know the local housing authorities powers and the state tenant rights laws. Both are readily available.
The Chamber of Commerce can improve local economic information with more granularity regarding the largest employers, housing trends, and economic trends that may not be as obvious from the other sources.
All of these sources are free for the most part and can provide a wealth of information for investors. Placing the information in tables, you can often deduce patterns that will reveal potential rent opportunities, best uses of capital, places that should be avoided at all costs because of crime, areas that don’t offer strong enough traffic, or areas that are not desirable because of school factors or access to employment issues. Combining all of this will go far toward avoiding weak investments and finding good ones.
By Robert Charlson