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I'm looking into investing into real estate and rental properties. I live in NYC, and want to check out properties in Syracuse.

An agent gave me a list of his listings and I'm looking into one of them on Peck Avenue. I'm trying to run a "craigslist test" (something I just made up), where I switch perspectives and become the "renter" and look for housing in that area. However, when I look up "peck avenue syracuse housing for rent" I don't see any results.

Is that a good sign that signifies that this area gets rented out easily so there are no listings? Or does that mean there is no rental market there and I should stay away from that area? These two answers are completely opposite, so I want to make sure I don't get the wrong idea.

  • Are you really looking only on Craigslist, or are you doing a search of apartment agents? Do you have any idea what the neighborhood is like? – keshlam Sep 7 '14 at 19:43
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    eg have you tried doing a websearch for "rental near peck avenue syracuse", and/or looking at the from-the-air photos of the neighborhood (look like mostly 1- and 2-family houses), checking for recent prices of comparable purchases (Zillow is unofficial but useful), etc? There's a lot more to the web than Craigslist, and you should use everything you've got AND see the property personally AND talk to locals about the neighborhood before putting any money into this. – keshlam Sep 7 '14 at 20:12
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    I wouldn't read too much into the fact that you don't find any listings with that one search on that one street. Did you look at a map of the area to see if there are any listings nearby (even if on different streets)? – BrenBarn Sep 7 '14 at 20:52
  • As you're finding, don't just use Craigslist. Do you know how many, especially aged 50+ people will use the newspaper or other print ad to find a rental? – AbraCadaver Sep 8 '14 at 20:17
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  • Based on a quick look at the street via Google Maps I have Estimated that there are 50 properties on the street
  • Assume that all are 2 family houses.
  • If 10% are rentals that means that 10 units have renters.
  • If they are evenly spread though out the year then 1 is for rent right now.
  • If 25% of all listings appear on Craigslist. Then there is a 25% chance there is a listing on Craigslist right now.

Finding Zero is the expected result of your Craigslist check.

You will have to do a lot more research. A local agent can help you determine the number of days they stay on the market before they are rented. They can also help determine the spread between purchase costs and rental cost.

You will also have to figure in the cost of hiring a local management company, if you don't want to drive to Syracuse every time the renter has a problem in the middle of the night, or in the middle of a blizzard.

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    It may also have the seasonality to rentals that most college towns do. It will be VERY busy finding rentals in the late Summer when school is starting, but there will be very few properties available (or even demanded) at any other time than August. – THEAO Sep 8 '14 at 0:59
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Based on the information you gave, there are dozens if not hundreds of possible theories one could spin about the rental market.

Sure, it's possible that there are no listings because rental units on this street are quickly snapped up. On the other hand, it's also possible that there are no listings because almost all the buildings on the street have been abandoned and, aside from this one property that someone is tying to sell you, the rest of the street is inhabited only by wild dogs and/or drug dealers. Or maybe the street is mostly owner-occupied, i.e. the properties are not being rented to anyone. Or maybe it's a commercial district. Or maybe craigslist isn't popular with people who own property on this street for whatever reason. Maybe Syracuse has a city ordinance that says property must be advertised in the newspaper and not on websites, for all I know. Or maybe you missed it because nobody in Syracuse calls it "housing for rent", they all call it "apartments for rent" or "houses for rent" or some local phrase. Or ... or ... or.

Before I bought a property, I'd do more research than one search on one web site. Have you visited the property? I don't know how much you're preparing to invest, I have no idea what property prices are in Syracuse, but I'd guess it's at least tens of thousands of dollars. Surely worth making the drive to Syracuse to check it out before buying.

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