#7 Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Population in 2006: 224,959
Rent Strength: 8
The capital city of Louisiana, Baton Rouge is the only city in NuWire’s top 10 that lost population between 2000 and 2006, with a -1.25 percent decline. However, Baton Rouge was ranked 17th out of 258 on City-Data.com’s list of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. between 2005 and 2006.
This implies that, although Baton Rouge’s population was declining steadily for the first part of the decade, between 2005 and 2006 it gained back some of its population. This is likely at least partially because of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which sent thousands of displaced New Orleanians to Baton Rouge as refugees. Many of these evacuees were probably permanently absorbed by Baton Rouge after the disaster.
Baton Rouge is the only city in our top 10 that lost population between 2000 and 2006| alt=||]Baton Rouge is the number one city on our list of the Top 5 GO Zone College Towns. Katrina-inspired investment incentives, such as accelerated depreciation on new rentals, are still available in this region of the country. (For more information, see our article Investing in the GO Zone.)
Baton Rouge has by far the lowest rental vacancy rate, at just 5.7 percent, which bolsters its rent strength and stability.
#8 Fort Worth, Texas
Population in 2006: 637,178
Rent Strength: 8
One of the 10 most livable cities in the U.S., according to America’s Most Livable Communities, Fort Worth is also among the largest. It is the 18th largest city in the U.S. and the fifth largest in Texas.
Fort Worth has the third highest rate of population growth on this list: 19.17 percent between 2000 and 2006. For a large city, Fort Worth’s population density is not particularly high, at 2,178.09 per square mile; however, with a population growth rate this high, it is likely that Fort Worth’s density will increase. Investors could buy while property prices are more affordable—the median price is $111,900—and may stand to profit when the rising population accelerates price appreciation.
“Once dependent on agriculture, oil, and defense, Fort Worth is now developing into a major center for industry, technology, distribution, and transportation. To accommodate these changes, the city has embraced a multiple ‘growth centers’ concept that promotes compact urban land use within designated areas and lower intensity land use elsewhere,” according to America’s Most Livable Communities.
Fort Worth’s rental vacancy rate of 13 percent, the highest on this list, prevented it from receiving a higher ranking.
Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and is known as “The Air Capital of the World”| alt=|Shot of a development with air tower in background in Wichita|]#9 Wichita, Kansas
Population in 2006: 356,995
Rent Strength: 8
Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and is known as “The Air Capital of the World” because it is the home of six major airline manufacturing companies. McConnell Air Force Base is also located in Wichita.
The population of Wichita increased by 3.69 percent between 2000 and 2006. The city has a low median housing cost of $100,400 coupled with low monthly owner costs of $341 per month.
Wichita has fared well in market reports. Wichita ranked 16th in appreciation and 87th in foreclosures in two recent reports on the top 100 U.S. markets, according to Realty Times.
The main reason Wichita ranks ninth, despite having relatively strong affordability and rent strength ratios, is because the city had a -0.75 percent job decrease between 2000 and 2006, which could negatively impact the market.
#10 Shreveport, Louisiana
Population in 2006: 203,914
Rent Strength, 9
Shreveport is separated from neighboring Bossier City by the Red River, and the area is sometimes referred to as Shreveport-Bossier. The city acts as the commercial and cultural center of the region where Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas meet.
The median housing price in Shreveport is only $97,000. The area also has an incredibly low median monthly owner cost of just $287, which is significantly lower than average and is the most affordable of any city in the top 10.
Shreveport has a very population density of only 1,977.06 per square mile, which could unfavorably affect appreciation rates, and though its population and job market are growing, the rates of growth are slow. Population growth was 1.88 percent between 2000 and 2006 and job growth was 3.94 percent.
However, it is possible that new additions to the area could revitalize the city, promote new jobs and encourage more people to move to Shreveport.
“The new great thing in the Shreveport Bossier area is the [Cyber] Innovation Center… and the provisional Cyber Command Center at Barksdale, which may become permanent. Both will bring new life and new people to this region,” Bobbie Brasher, a real estate agent in the Shreveport-Bossier area, wrote in Realty Times.