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— by Hana LaRock

5 Reasons Real Estate Agents Should Keep Their Eye On the Rust Belt

According to recent reports, millennials are packing it up and gradually leaving cities like New York and San Francisco to move to the very areas that their parents and the media have warned them about — “The Rust Belt.”

The term “Rust Belt” is a name given to large cities in the Midwest which are surrounding the Great Lakes; cities which were once the industrial powerhouses of the country, and maybe even the world. But, the keyword here is “once.”  

The Rust-Belt cities like Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit, Milwaukee, Toledo, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh, just to name a few, were at one time the cities where Americans could fulfill the quintessential American Dream: A stable job at the factory. A house in the suburbs. A car. 

Then, times quickly changed. These cities have declined rapidly since the 80’s. As the name indicates, they began to “rust.” Cities became impoverished as factories closed down, and when people could no longer stick around, they left to follow the money and build their dreams elsewhere. 

But, now a new type of American Dream has taken hold, as more and more young people move out to these cities to buy homes and build businesses, which is exactly why real estate agents should be paying very close attention. 

We’re not saying you have to drop your comfortable job in Manhattan or on the California coast to build a new life here. But, if you’re looking for new opportunity, the “Rust Belt” may very well be the place for you. 

Here’s why: 

1) Houses are Simply More Affordable 

A lot of people say that millennials no longer want to own homes. But, that’s not true. Millennials would absolutely love to have their own home. The problem is, owning a home is no longer affordable in most cities, and when the young population is already crippled by student loan debt, owning a home just doesn’t seem as important. Not only that, it’s just doesn’t seem viable. 

Unless, of course, you move out to the Rust Belt. According to real estate websites like Zillow, it’s actually difficult to, say, find a home in Toledo, Ohio that’s more than $100,000. It goes without saying that finding anything under that in the East Coast or bigger cities like Chicago or Portland, would be next to impossible. That isn’t to say that there aren’t other affordable areas within the United States that are outside the Rust Belt. But, seeing as this area was very recently considered desolate, it’s quickly becoming the place to be. And, with affordable housing, why not? 

2) More People are Working Online 

One of the biggest reasons that people would avoid the Rust Belt at all costs is likely because they are worried about finding a job there. After all, jobs were the main reason people starting coming to these cities in the first place, and the reason they eventually had to leave, too. But, finding a job is not necessarily a concern for millennials anymore, because so many of them have remote jobs that they can do from anywhere. And, if they don’t have a remote job, then the low cost of living that the Rust Belt provides can give anyone the opportunity to start their own business. 

3) Investment Opportunity is Rampant 

Unfortunately, foreclosures in the Rust Belt didn’t stop after the industries there failed. Even though the area had been hit hard enough already, these cities still were not immune to the housing crisis that affected the entire country later on. If anything, they were even more vulnerable to it. Because of this, the Rust Belt also offers people (okay, mostly millennials again) not only an opportunity to buy an affordable house for themselves, but to take advantage of the declining market and buy up tons of investment properties. That’s right. People don’t even have to live here if they don’t want to.  

Will this lead to gentrification in areas where it’s not yet happening? Probably. But, if you’re an agent looking to be a part of all these upcoming transactions, then it’s clear where you’ll need to be.  

4) There’s Potential on Every Corner 

So, there’s cheap housing. But, why would anyone actually want to live in these cities? Believe it or not, even though Columbus, Ohio will never measure up to New York City, and Detroit will never be quite the same as Denver, it doesn’t mean that these cities don’t have potential. In fact, many of them are already having a major increase in the number of tourists. With tons of diversity, delicious restaurants, live music, boutique hotels, community projects, parks, and exciting museums, these cities can have just as much to offer as anywhere else.  

5) Because Life Will Be Good for You, Too  

It doesn’t need to be spelled out for you. If you’re a real estate agent, then you should go where the money is. A couple of years ago, most agents wouldn’t dream of moving to the Rust Belt. But, with times quickly changing, this is a good place for you to start your business, expand your business, or even get into the business of flipping houses, since you’re already an expert on how to do that! 

What’s your opinion on the Rust Belt? Let us know! 

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