As part of my new interest in real estate, I’ve been driving around and learning interesting new tools to use on the internet to help me in my research.
As much as I enjoy the internet and the time-saving aspect of the real estate investing online sites like zillow and trulia, I’ve discovered a new joy (so far anyway) in researching the surrounding city and town areas. It’s amazing the history that you can discover of about a place if you drive around and go to the library.
Often times, if the town/city is quaint, you’ll discover a lot about the history just by looking at the pictures within the library since most try to tie the history to the present. For instance, once I was in a library where the city was a central hub of a canal system. After the canal system went into disuse, the old boats just sat and decayed (many were destroyed by neglect). What was especially interesting was a picture I saw in the canal town’s library that showed a family with kids living on one of those old canal boats. The clothes lines and young kids playing on the deck of the boat was very surprising. I don’t know how long that family lived on the old canal barge, but seeing the family in the old black and while photo was amazing on multiple levels. First, that after the canal system was closed, that people did what they had to do to get by, and secondly that the boat in the picture survived and is used for canal rides today.
While it’s possible for a city to change it’s population consistency, I was amazed at how many of the cities to retain their roots both in work opportunities and practices. The canal city I mentioned above was a working class city, and although tourism is an important part of the current economy, many of the people living there are still from a working class kind of background with plenty of renters, at least in the downtown portion. In fact, I’ve never seen so many old rental units (duplexes mainly) in a city before.
After driving around for about a half an hour in the quaint canal town, I decided to pass on considering purchasing a few of the duplexes that were for sale. While those duplexes might be filled up now, once the housing market changes, that properties might be difficult to fill up.