Start your real estate market research with the U.S. Census information about a town. You want to invest in a town that is growing, especially if you are investing in income properties. It’s getting easier to do this now, with all the information available online. Just go to the official U.S. Census site at www.census.gov.

If you call the chamber of commerce, or the local department of economic development, they may have a packet of statistics they can send you too, showing population figures, employment mix, and more. These are a couple of the statistical tools and information that can help, but one of the easiest and most useful research tools, is talking.

Real Estate Market Research – Choosing a City

Talking is a great way to research a town. I once called the Chamber of Commerce of Deming, New Mexico. In the course of our conversation, the chairman casually commented that the city was using up the water faster than the aquifer was being replenished. I also learned that they had no back-up plan. That was enough to cross Deming off our list.

When you want to know more about a town, use the phone. Use any excuse to call anyone from a real estate agent to a random resident. Ask questions about crime, whether the local government welcomes new businesses, what the climate is like. Are houses sitting for sale for a long time, or do they go fast? Where are the good and bad areas? What are the good and bad things about the town?

Prior to moving to Tucson, Arizona, part of our real estate market research was to call people in potential towns to see if they owned a snow shovel. If they did, we crossed the town off the list. Two different places can both get 25 inches of snow per year, but in one it stays all winter, and in another it melts before noon. Our snow shovel question told us the truth behind the statistics.

That was just a personal thing with us, of course, but talking to people can tell you much that is more directly related to investing. In fact, a good local bar can be a great place to do your research once you are in a town. Patrons will tell you what big employers are about to move in or out of the town, how fast homes are selling, whether there are gangs, and much more.

Ask which areas are improving, and which are getting worse. Listen for stories about noisy or animal-infested areas. This kind of information is important, but hard to get from the raw data. Of course, people do sometimes exaggerate, so try to verify what you hear. Still, talking to people of can be a great way to do real estate market research.