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Which Region Has the Best Return on Rental Investment?

With rising home prices and insufficient inventory hampering homebuyers in markets across the country, investment opportunities within the rental space are abundant. But which metros are the best places to invest? HouseCanary’s Canary Rental Index (CRI) for Q1 2018 shines a light on where the rental market is booming—and where it’s not.

Soaring home prices and limited inventory seems like a surefire combo to spur the rental market, with some would-be homebuyers having to rent while they save up for a larger down payment or just keep hunting to find the right home for them. However, HouseCanary’s Canary Rental Index points out that this assumption doesn’t always play out that way, as not all markets are created equal.

Nationwide, the effective gross yield (EGY) for rental investments is 7.7 percent, according to the Q1 2018 CRI. According to HouseCanary, the effective gross yield calculations “include rental expenses (like the price of the home and state and local tax levies), then determines what kind of return on investment a rental investor can expect given the local fair-market rental value of homes.”

ROI varies significantly even within individual markets and doesn’t always correspond solely with increasing home prices. Using the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado, metropolitan-statistical area (MSA) as an example, the HouseCanary CRI found that, while Colorado as a whole has shown an 8 percent growth increase in home prices year-over-year, the Denver neighborhoods of Franktown, Castle Rock, and Westminster were sitting around 5.1 percent price growth. The 80218 ZIP code on the north side of the city came in at 11.8 percent growth year-over-year.

However, HouseCanary found that the EGY for rental investors for the 80218 ZIP code was only 5.8 percent. The 80219 ZIP code, “which encompasses the Barnum, Westwood, Mar Lee, and Harvey Park neighborhoods,” shows a rental EGY that aligns with the national average at 7.7 percent. Moreover, the highest rental EGY within the Denver MSA is actually found in the Eastern plains, almost an hour outside of the city proper—that’s where rental investors can average an EGY of 11.3 percent.

“Recovery from the housing crisis has happened at a different pace for each state and even each metro area within each state,” HouseCanary’s CRI report states. “Prices are growing more quickly in some places than in others, and in MSAs where recovery has been most robust (and even in surrounding metros), price growth is probably not the best metric to use for rental investors seeking a new property to buy and hold. Although the EGY for the country as a whole was 7.7 percent in Q1 2018, the variance in the Mountain West shows the danger of relying on an average—there are metros with much better (and much worse) EGY and gross yield than the 7.7 percent national average.”

So, which metros are showing the strongest rental EGY? Of the 50 metros listed in the Q1 CRI report, Kansas City, Missouri-Kansas showed a 14.1 percent yield, a 2.5 percent quarter-over-quarter increase. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is right behind Kansas City with a 14.0 percent yield and a 1.7 percent quarter-over-quarter increase.

Other MSAs demonstrating a yield above 10 percent include Memphis, Tennessee-Mississippi-Arkansas (13.3 percent); Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama (12.3 percent); Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, New York (11.9 percent); Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio (11 percent); Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Indiana (10.9 percent); St. Louis, Missouri-Illinois (10.7 percent); Rochester, New York (10.7 percent); and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (10.1 percent).

On the other end of the spectrum, the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California, MSA showed the lowest yield of those markets reported on in the Q1 CRI. Yield within San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara was only 2.8 percent, down 0.7 percent quarter-over-quarter.

You can download the full HouseCanary Q1 Canary Rental Index by clicking here.

About Author: David Wharton

David Wharton, Editor-in-Chief at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, where he received his B.A. in English and minored in Journalism. Wharton has nearly 20 years' experience in journalism and previously worked at Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm, as Associate Content Editor, focusing on producing media content related to tax and accounting principles and government rules and regulations for accounting professionals. Wharton has an extensive and diversified portfolio of freelance material, with published contributions in both online and print media publications. He can be reached at [email protected].

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