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INVESTORS’ CORNER: Why I moved to Charlotte

The year was 2006, and the Michigan real estate market was slowly circling the bottom of the toilet. Around the country, real estate was booming, and seller’s markets abounded – or so I’d heard.

There was no evidence of it in my backyard. With the state hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs (auto and furniture industry) and the service jobs that support them, demand for housing was plummeting and showed no signs of reversal. Housing was already losing value in many areas. What would the effect be when the national real estate “boom” ended, financing for buyers dried up, and we entered a recession, as we indeed did in 2008? I was not waiting around to find out.

So, my search for a new place in which my real estate business could prosper anew began. I limited it to the eastern portion of the country, so as not to be incredibly far away from family. Beyond that, a blank slate sat before me, upon which I began writing the criterion which would make for an optimal long-term growth market. You know already how the story ends, but it may be of interest to you to review the factors that my intensive research considered:

– Local economic strength: Michigan had demonstrated with brutal clarity the effect of having all of your economic “eggs in one basket.” Therefore, I sought an area that would not topple if the winds of change blew a contraction or collapse in one or two industries. Charlotte qualified strongly on that point.

– Growth potential: At the time I reviewed the numbers, Charlotte’s housing stock was considered undervalued compared to other major metropolitan areas across the country. In other words, if you wanted to move to or relocate your company to a big city, you could buy a lot more house for your money in Charlotte.

– Average days of sunshine: Statisticians track everything, don’t they? When trying to project future growth, I did not take lightly that most people prefer bright blue sunny skies to their gray, overcast brethren. Charlotte sat very high on the list.

– Proximity of various recreational activities: Charlotte is only hours from the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean, but moving in the other direction, mere hours from the Blue Ridge Mountains. This results in a staggering variety of scenery, as well as convenient proximity to both winter sports such as skiing and a long summer season of watersports.

There were of course many other factors, but the resultant decision, which I have yet to come to regret, is that Charlotte is the solid choice for sustained short- and long-term growth.

Lou Gimbutis is director of education at the Metrolina Real Estate Investors Association, which provides education, mentoring, and networking for real estate investing in the Charlotte region. He can be contacted at lou@MetrolinaREIA.org. For more information, visit www.MetrolinaREIA.org.

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