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Our First Ever Out Of State Rental Purchase

I’ve been wanting to invest in out of state rentals ever since my friend Deena shared that she owned a rental property in Memphis, TN and she bought it for roughly $60,000.

I’ve done well investing in the Greater Seattle area, and until 2013 had more deals than I could buy at any one time. I also utilized the B-R-R-R method, and ended up putting little to no money down on the rentals I was buying. Other states did not seem to have as much price appreciate as my local market did, so I didn’t see much need to go outside of my area.

For fun, Deena and I decided to travel to Detroit, as she had met a person who had some off market properties there, and they were between $40,000 – $50,000 turn key and already rented. Before she went through with the purchase we decided to take a look and see what she was buying.

When we got to Detroit and drove by the houses, they happened to be boarded up, much like a majority of the City. So this person was definitely running a scam on out of state investors.

As we toured the city for the next few days (and miraculously lived to tell about it) the whole out of state investing idea was getting pretty scary to me. In hindsight, Detroit was probably the worst place in the country to research buying out of state rentals.
out of state rental out of state rental out of state rental

In 2014 Deena and I were off again, this time in Memphis where she had already owned a property. Memphis was much better than Detroit, and there were way less boarded up or burnt down houses. I definitely felt a lot more safe, though there were some areas that I would not want to hang out in.

My biggest issue with Memphis was the school districts, and the returns. The school district ratings were terrible, and there was a great deal of poverty.

While the returns were good, they were not good enough for me to be excited about owning in high poverty areas where a lot of the renters are section 8. Nothing against Section 8 renters, though in my experience they can be a bit more challenging than traditional tenants.
The other parts of Memphis that did not attract section 8 had little to no appreciation over the years. I’ve heard that the suburbs are better than Memphis, but we didn’t stay long enough to explore those areas.

Fast forward to 2016 and the deals have all but completely dried up in my market. I have only bought one rental, and I’m itching to get more.
I somehow stumbled across a blog, Cash Flow Diaries, and I really connected with the message and content. There was a lot of talk about Indianapolis, and the reasons why it’s a great area to invest in out of state rentals.

I recently interviewed Alex from Cash flow Diaries. Check it out!

I was convinced that investing in Indianapolis made sense. The only difference in my strategy was I chose to work with a local realtor, find my own property manager and contractor instead of working with a turn key company.

In my research, I believed that most of the turn key providers were buying houses in less desirable areas and charging much more than fair market value for the turn key rental. I look at it like buying a new car, or a flipped house. You are always paying more for something that has had all of the hard work done for you.

I do see the value for investors who work full time or do not have the experience in rehabs, but with my background I know the questions to ask and I know I could get a better deal doing all of the leg work myself.

So, I sought out an experienced real estate agent. I figured if I was in the business, I could find someone who can do what I do for clients in another state. I hit the jackpot when I found my agent Nick on Bigger Pockets. Right off the bat he was honest and upfront with me, and when I sent him a few deals that I found online, he talked me out of all of them.

Note to investors: you always want to work with an agent who will tell you no on a deal, rather than say yes to whatever you send them. It means they are truly looking out for you and value the relationship over a deal.

Right away Nick found me a great deal in Brownsburg, IN. It had been on the market for a while so we wrote a lower cash offer. The next day the seller received another offer, and we increased ours a little. The seller ended up going with the other offer.

About a week later Nick sent me a great duplex in Greenwood, IN. It too had been on the market for some time, though the pro-forma numbers looked great. The area also passed my Trulia Crime Map test.

If you don’t know what the Trulia Crime Map test is, basically I type the property address that I’m looking at into Trulia. I scroll down to the crime map and see what the criminal activity is like in the area. Believe it or not, I’ve come across areas that read like a script for a horror film. I’ve seen multiple shootings in a few block radius, homicide, robbery, of course breaking and entering. The list goes on and on. It’s a kinda scary tool really. I don’t pay as much attention to the colors key that Trulia uses, I’ve seen areas marked orange that only had DUI charges or domestic disputes. Those I’m not so worried about, I’m more concerned about the violent & property crimes.

Anyway, the Greenwood duplex checked all of the boxes, and Nick was able to negotiate a fantastic price. He even went so far as to help interview some property managers and get us some bids on the rehab.

We ended up liking Indianapolis so much that we did get a few other properties under contract, though they did not pass inspection. We’re willing to take on a lot of projects now that we have a good team in Indy, though these places had foundation issues, which is not something we want to deal with.

We’re planning on buying many more properties in Indianapolis, and we’re also branching out into Kansas City, Little Rock, and Nashville.

A few months after this post we made a trip out to Indianapolis and love the city! You can read more about our experience here

The main reason these cities are attractive for acquiring rentals is their population growth, job outlook, and ratio between price and rents.
I’ve found many great investment opportunities that over 15% or higher cash on cash returns in these areas. I also believe that the millennial population will be moving to hip, cool cities that offer great amenities and entertaining options while also offering less expensive housing. With more companies offering the ability to telecommute, employees can now choose to live anywhere they want to.

I’m hoping that the acquisition of several cash flowing out of state rentals in these hot mid west cities will be a great investment for cash flow in the present, and for some appreciation in the future.
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About the Author

Jennifer Beadles

I’m Jennifer Beadles, and together with my family, we are living the day-to-day of a financially independent family thanks to our rental properties.

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6 thoughts on “Our First Ever Out Of State Rental Purchase”

    1. Avatar photo
      Jennifer Beadles

      Hey Alex! I actually think it helped not looking at the place first. Not sure if that is good or bad but the numbers worked and everyone said it was a good location so we’re hoping they’re right.
      We’ve done so many different rehab projects that it really wasn’t much different doing a rehab on this one, except we did have our awesome agent offer to check on the rehab work weekly and send photos so that helped a lot. Our property manager is fantastic as well.
      Thanks for checking out my blog and for the info on Indy!!

      1. Hi.I love your articles especially on out of state investing. I am looking at buying my first out of state property in Indiana and recently completed a trip there to get an idea of what areas make sense to buy. I also met up with a few Turnkey providers but they seem to be selling their houses for four times what they bought them for. Any advise on whether buying from the MLS makes more sense if I don’t have a team already on the ground in Indy? Also do you have any opinion regarding buying in the areas around downtown Indy which are currently gentrifying? Also can you share the contact details for Nick?

        1. Avatar photo
          Jennifer Beadles

          Hi Aaron! I’ve never purchased from a turn key provider, I’ve seen too many scams and issues with turn key properties that I’ve decided that is not the best option for me. However, I do know others who have had great success, like Alex with Cash Flow Diaries (you can check out the interview with him here
          I personally prefer to work with a trusted agent who knows how to find good deals, and then build my own team from there. This takes a lot more time, but I am very strict on my property criteria so I only want to buy really good deals. I would suggest you start with finding a great agent (I’ll send you an email with a few names) and then ask for referrals for contractors and property managers. Any good agent who works with investors will be able to make those connections for you.
          I buy multi-family properties which in Indy seem to be mostly in the suburbs. I haven’t seen any properties that meet my cash flow requirements in the downtown areas, though I think there would be better appreciation in those areas. For me, I want stability and a focus on cash flow and a long term hold (15+ years).
          Hope this helps and look for an email shortly.

    1. Avatar photo
      Jennifer Beadles

      Hi Kenji!! I just met with my CPA this week and it looks like we’ll need to file an Indiana return. Not sure yet how much that will cost, but we’re liking the area so much that we’ll probably buy at least 5 more there which would justify the extra return.

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