Huntsville Metro

huntsville

Huntsville, Alabama

Drive 90 miles North of Birmingham on Interstate 65 and you arrive at Huntsville Alabama.  With a metro population of 431,800 Huntsville is noticeably smaller than Birmingham, but with the Aerospace, Defense and Technology sectors, we find an environment well worth a savvy real estate investor’s attention.   Nicknamed the “Rocket City” Huntsville has been instrumental in space development technology since the 1950s.  The charm and beauty of Huntsville makes this city comfortable in both the 19th and 21st centuries.

Economy

USA today touted Huntsville as “one of the top communities leading the economic recovery,” while Money magazine named it “one of the nation’s most affordable cities.” The cost of living is 6.2% below the national average.  Job and population growth have been steady of the past few years.   The unemployment rate of 5.9% is also well below the national average.   Economic diversity is a key factor in the stability of the Huntsville.  The top employer is the military with over 31,000 jobs at Redstone Arsenal.  The local hospital systems and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center are the next largest employers.  Approximately 50 of the fortune 500 companies, from GE to Lockheed Martin, Level 3 Communications, AT&T and Verizon have a presence in the Huntsville area.  Toyota has a manufacturing plant where by 2015 their total investment will exceed $850 million.  In 2013 this facility produced a record 540,000 engines.  Finally Huntsville boasts the nation’s second largest research park in the nation and 4th largest in the world.  Cummings Research Park is a leading model for transforming research into business success.   There is a vibrant mixture of fortune 500, local and international high-tech companies.  Cummings Research Park is the center of attention for research and technology.

Housing

Like most of Alabama, Huntsville enjoys lower tax rates to help with ROI.  Renters take up about 38% of the market.  With the steady job market and population, this allows investors with quality homes to attract solid, long term tenants.  The average home age is 34.1 and the average home price is approximately $125,000.  With distressed homes selling at a 44% discount, this is a great environment for flipping or a buy and hold strategy.

History and Culture

Huntsville was established in 1809 and in 1811 became the first incorporated town in Alabama.  Rich in Civil War history, Huntsville was initially opposed to secession from the Union.  Eight Civil War generals were born in or near Huntsville and were divided equally among North and South.  Huntsville was spared the burning of many southern cities as it had a strong Union Army presence.

Munitions facilities were developed during World War II and Redstone Arsenal became a driving force in the community after the war.  In the 1950s and 60s Huntsville played a key role in the development of the U.S. Space Program.  The Space and Rocket Center is today a key tourist attraction that substantial revenue to the area.  Over 1500 pieces of space memorabilia can be seen at there.   Huntsville also has many parks, arts and cultural facilities and has been named one of the top areas in the country for working retirement.