Determining a town's investment potential?

Hey Guys,
There’s a small town about 20 miles away that has quite a few duplexes & fourplexes that are selling for 60k - 90k with gross rents in the $1200 - $1600 range. Many of the properties are currently vacant. The population is about 14,500. There’s a state college, a hospital and a few small businesses. There’s also an Art’s center which is attracting artists, musicians etc… Since I don’t see a large diverse emplyment base, I’m having a hard time determining if this town is worth the effort or not. Are there other factors that I should be looking at to give a more accurate picture? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanx.

Vacancy rate would be a big factor.

North Adams?


Bingo! I forgot you’re from this neck of the woods. I have’nt got a handle on the vacancy rate yet. I keep getting different answers. It’s anywhere from 8% to 12%. I hear there are a lot of second generation Section 8 tenants. I like the college town potential. I plan to visit the college offices to see if they can give me an idea of the student housing needs. I also want to visit the City Hall and try to find out the town’s housing needs.

Yeah, and I’m smarter than I look (darn good thing, too!)…

My grandmother (the “Graminator”) used to live up that way. A lot of the kids from the north county go to school there but live in some real sucky areas for driving in the winter (Savoy, Clarksburg, Florida, etc.) and from over in mid-state. I think if you find the right place priced right near the college, you might be onto something.

Have you asked the localRealtors’ association about the vacancy rate?


I never thought to ask a Realtor. There are a few property management companies up there. I haven’t talked to anyone in person. North Adams actually looks a lot nicer than it used to 10 yrs. ago. Since the town is so small, I may end up with a decent ternant mix. The hospital and college are’nt going anywhere anytime soon. They both just put on additions. The crime rate is better than my town (Pittsfield). They’ve also had a lot trouble with deadbeat landlords. I’m hoping I can identify a need and provide the solution better than anyone else in the area. I’ve got some snooping to do. Thanx for the advice.

If you buy for equity, you won’t hurt either way. With at least 30% equity, even if values never improve you still picked up $20-25k on a $90k home.

Try the local Chamber of Commerce for information on income, etc. Also the U.S. Census Bureau has lots of info. on income, age, number of people per household, etc.