Sunday, May 08, 2005

Prediction: The Small Town America Real Estate Boom

We've already seen the trends of Suburban Sprawl and Big City Gentrification. At the same time we have seen the near extinction of Small Town America as more and more people left the countryside in search of greater opportunity.

My prediction for the near future is quite different: the mass exodus away from smaller communities around America has peaked and over the next 10 years we will see an amazing real estate boom occur in thousands of "ghost-towns" across the USA.

Three significant changes in our society have made this possible:

1) Technology innovation: the ubiquitous availability and affordability of new Internet technologies (Web, Blogs, Email, IM, VOIP, Virtual Conferencing, E-Commerce, etc.) are making it possible for more and more knowledge and service workers to be able to work virtually from anywhere.

2) New distribution models:
a new distribution system makes it possible to easily move products anywhere, anytime. In addition to the Wal-Marts and Home Depots that have popped up to bring stuff to rural America, companies like FedEx, and Ebay have made it possible for the average American to have access to an efficient and cost-effective means to send, receive, and market goods from anywhere.

3) Space:
quite simply, rural America has the most space left. Big cities are expensive and cramped, and the burbs (which are already reaching into the countryside everywhere) are simply boring and bland.

While technology, distribution and space make this new shift possible, there are several trends that I believe will make it likely that a new boom occurs in the countryside near you:

1) The economy: it is way more expensive to live in or near a major metropolitan center or big city and consumers are demanding more for their shrinking incomes.

2) Corporate incentives: more and more companies are seeing that they can reduce operational expenses and increase productivity by having more of their employees work from home.

3) Family values: more families will want to move back near home to take care of their aging parents, or they will want to live in an environment more conducive to spending time raising children (just think – no commuting).

4) Education: depending on the particular community, many rural areas have stellar educational systems and can provide parents with a greater voice because there are simply less students.

5) Crime: there is less crime in rural America compared to major cities and suburbs.

So that’s my prediction. I’m already looking for buildings and land back near the farm where I grew up. You should too while the getting’s good…

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