Rated in the Top 20 Places to Live in the USA, Charlotte, North Carolina, is Ripe for Investment

A survey by U.S. News & World Report earlier this year ranked metropolitan cities by their quality of life, cost of living, job prospects and property values.

Charlotte, the most populous city in North Carolina, came out 15th on the list – an impressive achievement considering the competition.

The high ranking has echoed the city’s thriving property market, where house prices have encountered a steady rise overall throughout the current decade.

Charlotte park and skyline

Image credit: James Willamor via Flickr

Living in Charlotte

Miriam Weiner, product manager of Real Estate at U.S. News, notes:

The Best Places to Live ranking accounts for the most important concerns people have about where to live, such as cost of living, employment opportunities and access to good schools…
Top-ranked areas not only have steady job markets, but they also have attributes that contribute to a high quality of life – affordability, low crime rates, shorter commute times and quality health care.”

Seeing as Charlotte performed so well in the rankings, this shows how its inhabitants are happy with the general standard of living and their prospects for the future.

Charlotte housing with terraces

Image credit: Daniel Lobo via Flickr

As a prospective investor, it pays to find areas with a strong local economy and high employment rates. This both guarantees you’ll have enquiries for your property, as well as assured rental income should you decide to let.

Charlotte, with its vibrant banking sector, offers a fantastic opportunity in this regard. It encompasses the second largest financial centre in the U.S, only behind New York, and an increasing number of foreign companies seeking investment. This in turn leads to higher mortgage approval rates and more confidence in the property market overall.

Charlotte Property Market

The Vice-President of real estate analytics company RealtyTrac, Daren Blomquist, is confident Charlotte is a safe bet when it comes to an investment:

“All the data we look at indicates Charlotte is in the midst of a housing boom that is strong, but not too strong, which means it is sustainable and will continue through 2016, at least.”

This view is backed up by the President of Allen Tate Co, Pat Riley, who concludes that the path of sustainable growth from 2016 will continue next year.

Charlotte city centre

Image credit: James Willamor via Flickr

Price appreciation at a steady rate means that houses remain affordable for the average earner and thus encourages activity in the market. Combined with robust employment figures and increasing economic investment, this makes acquiring property in Charlotte a wise move for long-term investors.

As the largest city in North Carolina, your options for investment across the state are substantial. In one area in particular, around the West Boulevard-Freedom Drive intersect, house prices increased by an impressive 70% within the last year but still remain at a median of around $110,000.

This is highly attractive for investors looking to make their money stretch further. Combined with the fact Charlotte is thriving socially and economically, as shown with the U.S. News & World Report survey, there’s no reason why the city’s property market won’t continue to perform well into 2017.

If you’d like to know more about investing in Charlotte, contact us today.
If you’re not quite ready, you might enjoy How to Invest in American Real Estate.

Posted in USA

Will The Presidential Election Affect US Property Investment?

Primary season is well underway in the United States and around this time of year many investors begin to wonder just what sort of an effect all of the campaigning and brouhaha will have on the property market there. 2016 is no different, although there are one or two factors that leave any hard and fast predictions difficult to put forward.

Firstly, there’s the fact that the candidate who’ll win the Republican nomination is still anyone’s guess. Many voters are sitting on the fence with this one, and the choice that they ultimately make will no doubt have an influence on the way the markets react.

Another key consideration is the way in which the senate control falls once the dust of electioneering has settled. While the House of Representatives looks likely to remain in Republican hands, the race for the Senate majority is a much more open one, largely due to the sheer number of seats that the Republicans have to defend.

USA flag

Will any of this really make any difference?

Despite the fervent belief of many people – both media correspondents and the average Joe on the street are guilty of this – the result of presidential elections actually makes very little difference to how markets behave over the long term. Party affiliation is rarely demonstrative of a sizeable swing either way, as the history books prove. Whether we find that the good people of the United States have opted for a Democrat or Republican will ultimately have little bearing on the markets – the key mover is something else. It’s the economy.

While you can argue that the result of the race will have a bearing on the economy, purely judging things as red or blue is misguided. Both parties have had good and bad times whilst being the overseers of the biggest economy in the world, so to say that one group will definitely cause markets to move in a particular direction is foolhardy. However, the economy can affect how a nation votes, so maybe the question should be How Will the Markets Affect the Presidential Election?

What the economy means for the real estate market

In a bullish economy, voters are naturally more confident and homeowners and investors act in exactly the same fashion. This boldness engenders a belief in all markets and pushes consumer spending skywards, bolstering the real estate market as buyers rush to invest in the American Dream.

On the other hand, an uninspired and feeble economy will usually run concurrently with low employment figures, slow wage growth and poor consumer confidence. All of which mean that house prices are only going to head one way.

Real estate

While presidential years can prove to be divisive for families, friends, co-workers and neighbours, the long-term effect from the race to become the ‘Leader of the Free World’ will likely be minimal on the real estate market. People are generally more cautious in election years so sales could slow a little, but over the course of time this will balance out.

What will have an effect is the way in which the new President handles the economy, and for the answer to that question we can only wait and see.

For more information on US property investments why not read our other posts How To Invest In American Real Estate and 11 Surprising Facts About Orlando.

Posted in USA

11 Surprising Facts About Orlando

When you think of Orlando, Florida, you’ll probably have a picture in your mind of a sun-drenched tourist haven packed with theme parks and attractions. While this is certainly the case, there are one or two other things that you may not know about The City Beautiful. Let’s take a look at some

1. Disney World isn’t in Orlando!

Wait a minute – are you sure? Yep, despite many people thinking to the contrary – largely thanks to spurious marketing claims – the theme park Disney World is actually in Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake, not Orlando itself.

2. The old City Hall was a movie star

Orlando’s previous city hall was featured in the blockbuster Lethal Weapon 3 – where it was demolished! City planners needed to make way for the new City Hall so they thought they may as well make use of the demolition while they did so. Who knew!

3. Orlando wasn’t always Orlando

Back in the mid-1800s, a settler by the name of Aaron Jernigan decided to put down some roots here and gave the area the name of, what else, Jernigan.

4. All you can eat

Orlando has more than its fair share of restaurants. Actually, it has so many that you could eat out at a different establishment three times a day for a whole year and you’d still need a further five years to visit them all! Choice is not a problem in Orlando.

5. Orlando lies right in the middle of Florida

Orlando lies at the geographical heart of the state of Florida, right at its centre. It can be found at the crossroads of State Road 408 and Interstate 4.

6. Hotel rooms aplenty

Orlando has lots of places to stay if you decide to visit. In fact, the city has the second most hotel rooms in the whole of the United States, being beaten to the top spot only by Las Vegas.

7. It’s where waterparks were born

Wet n´Wild was the world’s first ever waterpark when it opened its gates back in 1977. Not only that, it’s also one of the few waterparks across the world that is able to stay open 365 days a year thanks to the amazing climate in Orlando.

8. It’s home to a mighty Marriott

Hotel giant Marriott chose Orlando as the city in which to build their largest ever hotel – an astonishing 2,000-room behemoth.

9. Orlando has the largest Tiffany glass collection in the world

If it’s a more cultural fact you’re after, then the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art will gladly oblige. This museum is home to the largest collection of Tiffany glass on the planet, well worth a visit if you are in the city.

10. Orlando has over 100 lakes

Orlando is essentially swampland and the flat terrain holds over 100 lakes within the city’s borders. The largest of these is Lake Apopka which is fed by a natural spring and flows into the Apopka-Beauclair Canal. The bedrock in Orlando is very porous and the area is extremely susceptible to sinkholes. In fact, Lake Eola, in downtown Orlando, is actually just an enormous sinkhole, stretching down to around 80 feet at its deepest point.

11. It takes over two months to see it all

There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Orlando. Actually, according to a recent study, it’d take the average traveller 67 days to take everything in!

As you can see, not only is Orlando a fantastic, family-friendly, and fun vacation destination, it’s also got quite a few surprising facts, too. Residents love life here and it was recently voted as one of the top 100 cities to live in by livability.com. So, if you are thinking about spending time here, or maybe even buying property, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Posted in USA

How To Invest In American Real Estate

Unlike some countries across the globe, the United States is quite welcoming of foreign investment into their property market. Land sales are not restricted solely to residents and overseas buyers can make a real estate purchase in much the same way that a US citizen would.

Some states may have their own individual laws, and the relevant associations and cooperatives that control certain areas may impose limitations, but, on the whole, investing in the US property market shouldn’t be an issue for a UK resident. Of course, partnering with a trusted company like Aspen Woolf will further ensure a smooth investment process into what is once again a market on the rise.

Thorough research is key

As with any big investment or purchase, the time that you spend doing quality research will be paid back multiple times over. If you are not already familiar with the neighbourhood in which your prospective property or development falls, this should be your first task.

Location, location, location may sound like old hat these days, but it’s still just as important now as it ever was. After all, what’s the point in putting your money into Mississippi if all the canny cash is going into Orlando?

Image Credit: Pixabay

Image Credit: Pixabay

Find a good lawyer

Buying a property overseas is not without risk, so having a decent independent lawyer on your side who knows the state’s legislation can prove to be invaluable. A good lawyer will be able to advise you on the best way to purchase your property, be it via a LLC or personal structure, and they’ll help you avoid any unnecessary tax implications too.

Even some of the real estate jargon used can be confusing, as one part of the country uses different terminology to another. So, having a local representative to help with such matters will make navigating your way through your real estate purchase that much easier.

Image Credit: Mark Moz via Flickr

Image Credit: Mark Moz via Flickr

Money matters

The majority of property purchases in the US market made by overseas buyers tend to be cash payments; however, this naturally will not suit everyone. Obtaining a mortgage within the US from overseas can prove to be problematic, but it is not impossible. That being said, the process can take an extraordinarily long period of time and you may also be limited to only borrowing around 50 to 60% of the real estate’s value.

Another thing to bear in mind when financing your US real estate investment is the exchange rate. Fluctuations in the relationship between the pound and the dollar can seriously affect how well your investment performs. Therefore, it is always advisable to borrow in the dollar wherever possible as this will nullify any rise and fall in the foreign exchange markets.

Additional costs

The majority of property purchases made in the United States are freehold, but you may still have to pay extra in certain instances. Compounds and gated communities are examples of where you may find yourself paying additional fees similar to service charges in the UK. These are generally referred to as HOA (Homeowners Association) Fees.

Consider property management

As you will be investing in property outside your country of residence, it’s probably prudent to think about having someone look after the property for you in your absence. Property management companies offer this service and they will take care of everything from collecting rent through to dealing with any issues that may arise while you have a tenant in your property.

Seek out reviews or, better still, get personal recommendations for property management companies in the area that your property is situated. Having a reputable management company onside will give you welcome peace of mind when renting out a property abroad.

Speak to the professionals

If delving into the overseas property market seems a little too daunting to tackle all alone, we’re here to help. As an investment broker that specialises in overseas property we take a lot of the hassle out of what can be an extremely profitable, yet confusing, market. So, if you’d like to find out more about investing in the US property market, give us a call so that we can discuss your options further.

Did you enjoy this blog post? Then perhaps you might like to read our “A Guide To Investing In International Properties

On The Map: Gaffney, South Carolina

Gaffney, South Carolina – How an Investor Can Turn a Seedling, Into a Peachoid Tree

Gaffney has recently been put under the spotlight through the Emmy nominated show ‘House of Cards’. Kevin Spacey stars as nefarious fictional U.S. congressman, Francis “Frank” Underwood. A Democrat from Gaffney who represents South Carolina’s 5th congressional district. After a scene in season 1 with the famous ‘Peachoid’ in Gaffney, the town has somewhat become an area of conversation.

“We do get calls from people saying that they’ve watched ‘House of Cards’ and they want to know, ‘Do y’all really have a big peach there?’ ” said LeighAnn Snuggs, director of marketing and tourism for the city of Gaffney.

The “big peach” is, of course, the 135-foot water tower that can be seen from Interstate 85 and has become one of the region’s most recognizable landmarks. Built in 1981 by the GUSaffney Board of Public Works and officially known as ‘The Peachoid’, it played a significant role in the third episode of “House of Cards.”

However Gaffney isn’t just known for The Peachoid. It is now being looked at under more serious eyes. The property investor.


Gaffney is situated perfectly between two prominent cities, Charlotte and Greenville. It gives the comfortable feel of a small city with the ease of big city access.

Southern charm makes Gaffney one of the most desirable places to visit, live and retire. Showcasing four seasons annually, the town is centrally located for great weekends to the beach, mountains, or big city entertainment.

Gaffney, just like a huge part of South Carolina has been suffering from underwater mortgage owners. What is an underwater mortgage you ask? An underwater mortgage holder means they owe more than their home is currently worth. It has swept through the US and because of this people simply don’t have the funds to invest or buy. In South Carolina alone 16.5% of homeowners are underwater on their mortgage! Many homes have sold for less than they were initially worth and people are turning to renting property for longer periods of time as they try to save money. This is especially true for the younger population, who now choose to either stay at home with their parents, or live with roommates and focus on studies. However prices are starting to stabilise and rise. Lending is still extremely strict making any financing very difficult, and this is what makes an overseas investment grow from a seedling, into a giant Peachoid.

Limestone College

South Carolina was also 3rd on Forbes’ list of places to invest in 2014 and home to the largest private, regionally accredited institution in South Carolina.

Limestone College, established in 1845 by English born scholars is the third oldest in the State. Now a coeducational arts college, Limestone’s total enrollment exceeds 3,500 students and is growing year on year. Recently it has added a football team and a new scholarship, which has increased student numbers by an additional 10%.

Having a shortage in housing, and increase in student numbers, with lending being harder to get a hold of, one can see why Gaffney is not just a ‘House of Cards’, but a prime spot for a savvy international investor looking for fantastic yields and net returns in a very emerging US state.

According to the latest from Zillow, Gaffney home values have increased by a staggering 24.1 per cent in the last 12 months with the median value now $69,000, up from $55,600 in January 2014. At State level, South Carolina homes have risen 4.3 per cent over the past year with a further 2.3 per cent forecast for the next year, but still far from their post recession prices.


Developers are choosing the Charlotte area due to its economic growth, including city and airport expansion, industrial enlargement – plus interest from Donald Trump. Who told Eyewitness News: “We love North Carolina. To me, I just think this is the best area, a phenomenal place. The houses are going through the roof. I have so many friends in NC, it’s a great place.”

Thanks to its dual income potential from both the private student accommodation market and young city professionals, Gaffney is definitely attracting attention from able investors and the local population. It makes for a great time to start looking at US properties for profit. If you would like to learn more about investment opportunities within South Carolina, or Gaffney, contact one of our property investment agents today and start building your American Dream!… Or to just get a piece of that famous southern peach pie, mmm.

This Article was written by Harri Laitalainen, a property investment fanatic, marketing professional, and employee for Aspen Woolf.

Note: The views expressed are the author’s own and do not reflect in any way, the views of Aspen Woolf. Readers are advised to carry out their own due diligence before taking any decision.