Posted by ray@lcorn on June 11, 2006 at 12:37:58:
Real estate values are driven by population growth, so a good place to start is by finding the growth areas.
To do that, go to the fokks responsible for counting. The census site that tracks population growth is available at http://www.census.gov/popest/estimates.php. The 2005 data was released in March 2006, so it’s fairly current data.
When you get to the site, click on Estimates on the top menu bar, then click on “counties” under the “by geography” menu. You’ll be using two of the selections under the “Popular Tables”. On the drop down menu, use Cumulative Population Change 2000-2005, and Annual Population Change 2004-2005.
When you select one of those data sets, the next screen will show the states and territorys available. Click on Michigan, select the Excel report (if you have Excel), and you can start manipulating the data.
I used the Cumulative report for Michigan, and did the following: Highlight the chart without the header rows. Click on Data menu in Excel, then click “Sort”. Look at the bottom of the dialog box and click the button for “no header row”. Go back to the top where iot says “Sort by” and choose Column H, the rank of population change. the result will rank all counties in terms of growth. The top ten Michigan counties for population growth are
The census data can be manipulated in various ways. By comparing this chart with the Annual Population change 2004-2005 (ranked the same way) you can match the lists and spot recent growth patterns. This will often reveal that some high growth counties have slowed in the last year, and vice versa.
Charts are also available for cities, metros and various other subgroupings. This is the most accurate and up-to-date data available without ordering a custom demographic profile.
I use the census data as the first cut of interesting markets. Once you decide to get serious about a particular market, that’s the time to order paid reports to confirm the initial data.
It should also be pointed out that this list is not an assurance that these counties are actually good places for investment. Consider the list a marker of likely suspects, but then investigate other factors that come under headings like “quality of life”, and answer the question of WHY people are moving there. Features usually beocme apparemnt such as natural attractions, universities, transportation, etc.
As you investigate further, look beyond the numbers. Every market has individual idiosyncracies that must be understood to form the complete picture. Some areas require very close scrutiny because of heavy dependence on one industry. In Michigan of course the automotive industry is dominant, and also experiencing major dispruptions in the entire sector. In the south, furniture and textiles are the culprit. In the west, aerospace and aviation are going through changes.
So beware of one-horse towns and cities where one employer or industry dominates local employment. This takes some footwork from other sources (e.g. chamber of commerce, local planning organizations, etc.) to get a true read of future prospects.