The city will often have waterway or road plans for the next 20 years at least. Austin has most of it online. The plans will often be in the city planning and zoning deparment. You can also keep up with the city council minutes for new issues.
News sites like ww.bizjournals.com or real estate research centers like http://recenter.tamu.edu/ are good. Blogs, publications, and other news sources are good to keep up with. If I’m interested in a particular city, I’ll join news mailings lists that will send me daily or weekly updates. You can often sign up with their major newspaper companies or news sites.
In the city itself, I look for areas where home owners are remodeling or fixing the place up. They may have those dumpsters outside and are putting some value into their homes.
Tracking where certain companies are building new stores or renovating gives you a slight heads up. Whole Foods, Office Depot and Home Depot are usually in good commercial investment areas. I’ve liked where those little Pei-wei Restaurant places have been popping up. Those areas of our city are all slated for good growth.
There are many ways to tell, but this is just a few to get you thinking.
Look for historical price appreciation. most cities either see one of three things
steady 3-4% every year
wild swings both up and down.
this tells you what sort of area you’re investing in and whether you need to worry about when to get in and when to sell.
I like to see a history of large swings both up and down and invest
in the beginning of an upcycle. This indicated by a couple of years of zero
or negative appreciation followed by a slight increase in home prices in the past 12 months. At the same time you want to see a decrease in the unemployment rate and hopefully an increase in the net inward migration.
inward migration will be reported by various agencies after it starts to happen, but before they come out with there official reports, check out www.uhaul.com. if it costs more money to rent a truck to go into an area than out from an area, it means people are moving in and they’re subsidizing the move out because they’ve built up inventories of trucks there and need to hire people to bring them back.
then look for a decrease in inventories and a decline in DOM.
if you get into the market early enough, rents should cover mortgage payments with 100% financing [since interest rates are so low].