Market Research - Rental Rates
I enjoy doing market research as much as I enjoy the physical upkeep of the property.
Both of those things have to be approached with both a macro, large scale view but also a micro view towards attention to details and specific items.
One of the exercises I like to do is to pick a prevalent apartment size, say a 1-bedroom / 1-bath unit and find the prices on both zillow.com and craigslist.org to note where rents stand at different areas of the city.
**Warning: The rentometer website has been off by a large percentage in several markets I have looked at. I do not advise using that unless you are buying large, A-class complexes where most of their data comes from.
1. Print out a map from Google of your city. You may be able to find a neighborhood map of your city.
2. Draw in the boundary lines such as river, freeway, and main roads so it is distinct and easy to glance at.
3. Look up rents on similar class buildings and a specific unit type: 1 bed / 1 bath or 2 bed / 1 bath. Make sure that the listing is for the kind of building you expect to purchase and write in the current rate average.
Now you have a reference sheet that you can look at the city with AND you have put your own energy into this, making you more familiar with the place you are planning to invest. I bring my map when I meet with property managers and they will let me know if something seems inaccurate.
One needs to look at both the city and area as a whole and drill down to the character of a specific street when doing market research.
Researching markets, one apartment building nestled among many on a street may be very different than a single building surrounded by single family homes or at a boundary line that makes it a different neighborhood. Knowing the rental rate can help you start to see things at closer to a neighborhood level.
Maintenance planning is similar in this aspect. A plan needs to take in to account individual characteristics of the building. Doing SOMETHING is better than nothing, but for maximum value for preventative maintenance, you want to identify the weak points most likely to cause problems (and cost you money).