Big returns in Columbus

Columbus, Ohio. Sure, it sounds like a sleeper town, but the state’s capital city boasts a lot more than the Ohio State Fair – which, by the way, is one of the largest state fairs in the U.S. The city has strong industry, a low unemployment rate, and rental yields that have been impressing investors across North America.

The city’s popular downtown welcomes a surge of new business start-ups every year, and bigger corporations are starting to jump on the trend, flooding the city and its surrounding towns with corporate headquarters.

“Columbus has a lot going on downtown, so it starts with the core and grows out,” says Columbus-based Realtor Addie Davis-Holsinger. “That helps the city to grow, and not just financially. There are a lot of new businesses going in, a lot of old buildings being redeveloped.”

One industry that is growing exponentially is the tech sector. “Columbus has an increasingly tech-based economy,” says Vena Jones-Cox, an Ohio-based real estate investor. “That’s pulling people into Columbus and out of Cleveland and Toldeo and Cincinnati.”

This strong slew of diverse businesses has led to a steadily declining unemployment rate, which fell from a double-digit high in early 2010 to just 4.4 per cent in April 2014.

“[Columbus] did better than a lot of the rest, and I think it recovered faster than some of the other cities in the region," says Jones-Cox.

"Other places were so manufacturing-based…and a lot of those cities have just declined enormously. A high percentage of people are living under the poverty line, but Columbus has stayed a lot more stable.”

But Canadian investors aren’t the only ones trying to get into the market. Housing prices have risen and inventory is dropping. “You see a lot of people that are in multiple offer situations,” Davis-Holsinger says. “A lot of people are getting pretty close percentage to their asking price.”

Still, the market is priced significantly more favourably – the median price of a home in April 2014 was just $125,000, with average rents hitting upwards of $1,039 per month.

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