Real estate investors looking at Virginia have several great markets to choose from. There’s something for everyone — from large urban areas to small, rural towns.
One excellent market is the city of Williamsburg. Sitting just 50 minutes southeast of Richmond, Williamsburg is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It offers tenants the charms and attractions of a historic small town, but it’s growing rapidly and has plenty of modern amenities.
If you’re looking to add Williamsburg properties to your real estate portfolio, here are some things to know:
Williamsburg is a small town with only 15,697 tenants. However, it has grown at a healthy rate for 60 years. World Population Review found Williamsburg’s population grew by about 11% in the past decade.
Williamsburg may be one of the US’s oldest cities, but its tenants are young. The median age is 25.7 years old. That’s far less than the metro area (36.5) and the state (38.4).
Williamsburg appears to have a healthy economy. This draws tenants and helps them earn more, meaning real estate investors could earn a higher return on investment.
Williamsburg’s economy is largely tourism-driven, thanks to Colonial Williamsburg. The College of William & Mary also makes education a large industry in the city.
The following sectors are also popular across the metro area:
Major employers aside from Colonial Williamsburg and the College of William & Mary include:
Williamsburg tenants earn less than those in the metro area and Virginia. However, it’s important to remember that the metro area contains popular, larger cities like Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Meanwhile, Northern Virginia, near Washington, DC drives up the state’s median income because it includes some of America’s most affluent neighborhoods.
Each Williamsburg neighborhood will offer tenants different amenities and experiences. That means that each neighborhood will also draw a different type of tenant. Young, single professionals may prefer one community, whereas a family may look for something different.
Here are some communities to consider when picking a neighborhood to invest in:
Redfin gave Williamsburg’s housing market a 76/100 on the Compete Scale, naming it Very Competitive. Similarly, Rocket Homes placed the city firmly in seller’s market territory.
The city proper’s homes come in at a median of $382,540. The surrounding area’s median home value is higher — $409,367, per Zillow.
Williamsburg has 5,271 properties split almost evenly between rented and owned. Single-unit properties are slightly more numerous. However, multi-family properties are still about 46% of all properties.
This indicates strong homebuyer and rental markets in the area.
There’s a reason Williamsburg is growing fast and drawing in tourists — it offers an excellent location and plenty to do.
Colonial Williamsburg is the heart of the city and, essentially, a living history museum. From colonial-era buildings to souvenir merchants, there’s a lot to experience. Tourists and tenants can even dine and drink in the same buildings the Founding Fathers did centuries ago.
Williamsburg is also part of the “Historic Triangle” with nearby Jamestown and Yorktown. This offers a long list of historic landmarks and options for sightseeing.
There’s more than history to Williamsburg, though. The city has lots of popular parks, such as College Landing Park and Freedom Park. Tenants and tourists alike can enjoy entertainment at the Bounce House Family Entertainment Center, visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg, or try out Go Ape Treetop Adventure.
Williamsburg’s conveniently located near the coast, too. Newport News — half an hour southeast — has Huntington Park. Another hour southeast is Virginia Beach.
The coastal proximity means Williamsburg gets humid summers. Winters are quite cold as well. However, the area does see all four seasons.
Williamsburg is a fairly safe city. It has consistently lower property and violent crime rates than Virginia and the US. Crime has gradually decreased over the past two decades as well, with property crimes dropping faster.
Still, crime rates vary by neighborhood in Williamsburg. Areas with less crime tend to have wealthier tenants but more expensive properties. Meanwhile, higher-crime areas often have cheaper properties, but rents are lower.
Neighborhoods in and just north of Williamsburg proper have some of the area’s highest crime rates. These include communities like:
Southwest and further north away from the city contain neighborhoods with some of the area’s lowest crime rates. These communities include:
Regardless of neighborhood, security measures such as cameras and callboxes can enhance tenant peace of mind and increase your investment returns.
Strong public school systems draw families of many socioeconomic backgrounds who want their children to get the best education. Great private schools may draw more affluent families as well. Regardless, good schools mean more real estate opportunities.
Williamsburg-James City Public Schools is Williamsburg’s public school system. It contains five preschools, nine elementary schools, four middle schools, and three high schools. The high school graduation rate is about 91.3%. That’s right around Virginia’s average, which is a few percentage points higher than the national average for US News’s best high schools.
Niche.com gives Williamsburg-James City Public Schools high ratings in most areas. The website puts the school system in ninth place out of Virginia’s 131 school districts.
Williamsburg is also home to the elite College of William & Mary. Depending on your investment goals, William & Mary students may be a great rental market to consider.
Williamsburg may be small, but it’s growing fast and full of young, eager tenants. A healthy economy, good schools, safe neighborhoods, and historic attractions draw in a variety of tenants. Thus, Williamsburg appears to be a promising real estate market.
Whether you’re purchasing one Williamsburg home or one hundred, you don’t have to go it alone.
If you’re ready to buy your first (or next) investment property, here are 3 steps to get started today:
Taylor Streitmatter is Evernest’s Director of Brokerage. His diverse expertise includes sales, operations, and brokerage management.
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