Here in the Kansas City real estate investing market the conversation turns time and time again to whether you should go for the long term stability of Johnson County, Kansas versus the higher cash flow returns of Jackson County, Missouri. Yes, there are a couple other counties you may choose to invest in. Yet, these are the big two.
Johnson County, Kansas – Appreciation
Johnson County is the home to cities that constantly show up in the “most livable” reports of the different magazines and websites; Overland Park and Olathe. Yet there are other cities of great import; Leawood, Lenexa, Merriam, Mission, Mission Hills, Shawnee, Gardner…to name a few.
What they all have in common is great school districts. I think most of us who live in JoCo would rank the Big Three school districts in this order;
- Blue Valley
- Shawnee Mission
In the interest of full disclosure, I chose Olathe because I have two kids that had some special needs and Olathe was a far better choice. Blue Valley is an exceptional school district for the gifted and Shawnee Mission, though it has fallen on some tougher times, it time tested and continues to exceed when compared nationally.
Let me simplify real estate for you; home values are always strong and appreciate more based on the school district.
Whether you are rich or poor, black, brown or white, muslim or Christian or agnostic, don’t we all want the best for our kids? Therefore, when you invest in Johnson County, KS rental property just know that because the home values will be higher and therefore the returns will be lower. Sure, the rents are higher, too, though not 1:1.
All that is to say that yes, you should buy smart. You should put enough money down so that you have positive cash flow. Yes, you will have a lower cash on cash return and yes, you will outpace almost all other areas of the Kansas City metropolitan area in appreciation time and time again. Johnson County is a proven economic engine.
Jackson County, Missouri – Cash Flow
Following the exact same arguments as above, because the school districts are widely considered “lessor” the home values tend to trail that of neighboring JoCo. Sure, Lee’s Summit sometimes ranks in that “most livable” category with a good school district. Yet, it continually stands alone.
And make no mistake, it’s not that Jackson County, Missouri is a bad place to hold income property. Kansas City proper ranks as a great place for the young over and over again, and KC is home to the amenities that bind a city together; art museums, great parks, a revitalized downtown, the Chiefs, the Royals and the Kaufman Center.
Yet, per capita and per household income tends to track lower, the school districts rank lower and there wasn’t the community planning involved in the growth of the city in the early days like there was in JoCo.
Again, Jackson County is a great place to live. And to invest. You will get better cash flow. Appreciation, for the most part, tracks at just above inflation though last year Kansas City was one of the highest appreciating cities in the country at 9%.
Appreciation versus Cash Flow
In general, with exceptions to the rule to be found, if you are looking for a higher cash flow return you will want to be looking in Jackson County, Missoui. If you are looking for investment property and don’t need the cash flow to live on and can wait years until you retire from your profession as an engineer, doctor…whatever… you may find Johnson County, Kansas more desirable.