Emerging Markets

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A while back, I wrote in our newsletter about the ability to adapt to the ever-changing real estate and investment landscape. Whether it is changing interest rates, compressing cap rates, population shifts, housing inventory reduction, or a plethora of other factors, we at PassiveInvesting.com are always paying attention to what is happening and adapting to bring the best investments we can to you, our investor. We never rely on past success but strive for innovation and ingenuity within the real estate investment world. 

This can cause issues with our messaging. What I mean by that is, at points in time, we make statements based on the market indicators at that time. However, as mentioned, these indicators are always changing. This may shift a position that we once held to a new one. 

For instance, when we first started looking at multifamily properties, we were looking for heavy value-add, 70s & 80s vintage products. At that time, it made sense, and the returns were stable. As the markets progressed and COVID-19 came, we realized a vulnerability in the older value-add space, so we changed our acquisition strategy to newer assets with less inherent risk. Newer, more desirable assets were also available at higher cap rates. 

Recently we have noticed that with the attention away from value-add from many other investment groups, it has begun a little resurgence. We are finding more and more value-add deals that are now projecting good returns and since the focus was away from them, they were easier to acquire with less competition. 

The same holds true for individual markets. We started out with a focus on Charlotte, Raleigh, Charleston, Atlanta, and Greenville. Since then, we have added Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, San Antonio, Houston, Austin, and Dallas/Fort Worth. We have also pulled focus away from Raleigh, Atlanta, and Austin simply because of the competition and the highly compressed cap rates. 

Those markets are so much in the news that every investor in the space is trying to buy deals in those markets. With that kind of competition, you come across groups that do not know how to properly underwrite deals or have different hold criteria and they end up bidding deals over market prices, rendering them less than ideal for the PassiveInvesting.com family of investors. 

This is great for the assets that we own in those markets because it drives up the rental rates and per door basis and thereby accelerating our business plans years ahead of schedule. These market demands may change; no, they WILL change, and we will be there when they do to find the overlooked diamond in the rough in each market.

If markets that were once very desirable to us are now overpriced and over-competitive, then the same holds true for markets that we once passed over. Many times, when we pass over a market, it is not because it is a bad market but because we must maintain our focus on the best markets we can. 

We cannot seek properties in every market in the US and be effective. However, when we decide to shift away from competitive markets like Atlanta, Raleigh, and Austin, then we look for alternative markets that, at one point, we stated we would not buy in. We have found that some of these markets have performed well and have less attention in the media and therefore have less competition, lower per-door basis, and higher cap rates. 

Fewer barriers to entry mean higher returns for investors. Here are two examples of such markets:  

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Strategically located in northeast South Carolina between Charleston and Wilmington, NC, the coastal resort city of Myrtle Beach serves as a hub of the Grand Strand, a complex of beach towns and barrier islands stretching 60 miles from Little River to Georgetown, SC. Myrtle Beach has one of the fastest-growing populations among all metro areas in the country. The metro’s population has grown more than three times the national average in recent years, with employment experiencing a similar expansion over the past decade. As coastal tourism surged, Myrtle Beach was the first metropolitan area in South Carolina to return to pre-COVID levels of employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville is located in the Tennessee River Valley in the northernmost part of Alabama. It’s the fourth largest city in Alabama and part of the second most populated metropolitan area in the state. The economy of Huntsville is driven by a mix of private and public industry sectors, such as aerospace, defense, technology, and education. The GDP of Huntsville MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) is nearly $29.5 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and has grown by nearly 44% over the last ten years. 

Over the past year, the population of Huntsville has grown by 1.6%, and by nearly 11% since 2010. Within the next five years, Huntsville is projected to overtake Birmingham as Alabama’s largest city. Developers in the Huntsville metro area simply haven’t been able to keep up with demand. A low supply of housing helps to explain why rent rates in the city grew by 9% last year and why one major financial publication ranks Huntsville among the top seven smaller towns worth investing in. 

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is located along the Savannah River, about 20 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and three and a half hours by car from Atlanta. Originally founded as a British colony in the early 1700s, the city was a key port during the American Revolution and Civil War. The City of Savannah is home to more than 145,000 people and nearly 400,000 in the Savannah metro area. Savannah is the fifth largest city in Georgia and the third largest MSA in the state. 

Over the past ten years, the Savannah metropolitan area has added nearly 100,000 new residents. In the next five years, the City of Savannah is forecasted to gain 6,000 new residents and 12,000 new residents by 2030. The GDP of the Savannah MSA is more than $22 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and has grown by over 59% during the last ten years. The largest manufacturing employers in the Savannah area include Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, chemical company SNF, Georgia-Pacific Savannah River Mill, and International Paper. 

On top of Savannah and Huntsville, you have markets like Columbia, SC; Wilmington, NC; Boise, ID; Tucson, AZ; Augusta, GA; and Tempe, AZ; to name a few. We are always researching, and we always have our finger on the pulse of our target markets while monitoring those that are springing to life. As our team works tirelessly to bring you the next investment opportunity, be on the lookout for some of these new markets!