Why I Decided to Invest in Oklahoma City

Downtown Oklahoma City
(photo credit Gerson Repreza via unsplash.com)

About a month ago, I was having a conversation with a guy in my mastermind group. He lives in England and was in the process of doing his first BRRRR (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat) in Iowa. Up until this point, my real estate goal had been to purchase 1-2 single family homes per year via turnkey properties. When I learned this guy was living in England and had put together a team to invest in Iowa, I thought: why am I not doing this? The lightbulb moment. This is the beauty of a mastermind group – you are inspired to do more than you thought you could because others around you are crushing it. You don’t want to be left behind! 

After the conversation, my mind was whirring with the thought of

putting together my own team and buying distressed properties, rehabbing them, renting them out, and refinancing to get my capital back. Why was I not doing this already? Am I an idiot for not doing this already? No, but needless to say I was motivated. 

Where would I invest? I own properties in Milwaukee, WI and Pensacola, FL and I like those markets, but I also like the concept of geographic diversification. I would need to find a market with solid cash flow, room for appreciation, while also landlord-friendly. What other factors would I consider? I bought my first in Pensacola because I was stationed there, and I lucked out because it ended up being a great market. I bought in Milwaukee (and will buy a third property there this year) because thats where Storehouse 3:10 Ventures operates their fantastic turnkey model. But where to invest next? I turned to the most reliable source for real estate information: BiggerPockets.com

Learning About Real Estate Markets

I started reading member blogs and forum posts about choosing a market, and I went back and listened to older podcast episodes that discussed markets. The best source for this info ended up being the articles within BP Insights: the area of BiggerPockets reserved for Pro and Plus members. (Oh yeah, I also purchased a Pro membership because I wanted access to as much top level real estate info I could get my hands on!)

These articles discussed things I had not yet considered such as population growth, rent to income ratios, and rental growth. I knew I wanted to avoid the coasts, as price points tend to be higher there. I wanted a large, diverse city not reliant on any single industry. After significant research into markets all over the country and conversations with more experienced investors in my mastermind, I decided on the market: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Why Oklahoma City?

Growth and Progress in Oklahoma City
(photo courtesy Gerson Repreza via unsplash.com)

OKC has been aggressively investing in itself since the early 1990s. Before then, the city was struggling because it was so reliant on the oil and gas industry. In 1993, the city approved what would be the first iteration of the MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects), a visionary new capital improvement initiative designed to create and improve sports and recreation facilities, schools, cultural centers, and much more.1 The initiative was so successful, more MAPS were proposed and approved over the last three decades, resulting in the fourth iteration of MAPS which was approved last year. 

These programs have brought businesses, people, and JOBS to the area. If you’re looking for a healthy real estate market to invest in, these are the metrics you want to see. OKC has created an increasingly desirable city for businesses and people to migrate to. 

Oklahoma City Is Not Reliant on a Single Industry

Everyone knows the Detroit story: it was completely dependent on the automobile industry, and when those companies struggled, Detroit struggled too. The oil and gas industry has always had a big presence in Oklahoma City, but it is no longer the only show in town. Thanks to a friendly business environment, OKC continues to attract businesses from various industries. The Aviation and Aerospace industry makes up the largest sector in both employment and economic impact.2 The other major private sector economic contributors include Bioscience, Energy, Healthcare, and Manufacturing. 

The local economy is further buoyed by federal employers including the Federal Avation Administration, and two local Military bases. These make up roughly 20% of the local jobs.3 

Without businesses and jobs, you can’t have tenants. OKC has a diversified economy supported by a welcoming and friendly business environment, which has directly contributed to an influx of jobs and people seeking an affordable place to call home.

Homes are Affordable in Oklahoma City

The state of Oklahoma has the nation’s 4th lowest median home value. Oklahoma City’s median home value is $158,3374 which is significantly lower than the national average of $295,300. This means you can purchase investment properties for much cheaper than other markets around the country. Also, many properties in B and C class neighborhoods in Oklahoma City meet the 1% rule, which means the property’s monthly rent is 1% or more of the purchase price (for example, a home that sells for $100,000 and rents for $1000 per month meets the 1% rule). 

Oklahoma City National Memorial (credit Jack Finnegan via unsplash.com)

OKC has a Healthy Rent-to-Income (RTI) Ratio

RTI is a lesser known but useful metric for a market’s overall health.5 To determine a market’s RTI, you simply divide the city’s median rent by the median income. Housing experts recommend individuals spend no more than 30% of their income on rent, and you’ll see many property managers using a number around 30% when evaluating if a prospective tenant can afford to rent a particular property. 

For example, New York City has an extremely high cost of living, and boasts a 68% RTI. That means many people are spending around 68% of their income on rent! Oklahoma City, on the other hand, has a much healthier RTI of 21%. It’s an extremely affordable place to live which is a big reason why so many people are migrating there from higher cost of living parts of the country. 

Oklahoma City is Landlord-Friendly

Landlord-Tenant law in Oklahoma CIty favors landlords. If a tenant fails to pay rent, or is involved in illegal activity on the property, the landlord must provide a 5-day notice to pay or vacate. Once that period is over, the landlord can file an eviction which is usually a 7-day process (under normal, non-COVID circumstances). 

This is a factor many investors don’t consider before buying property in states like California. You are much more likely to have “professional” tenants in tenant-friendly states who know they can live for free in a property for 6 months or more before the courts catch up to them.

Many people turn their noses up when places like Oklahoma and other “flyover states” are mentioned, but states in the South and Midwest can be fantastic locations to invest your money!

Do you think Oklahoma City is a good place to invest? Send me a message at doug@honorandequity.com to discuss more, and make sure you follow @honorandequity on Instagram!

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