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CPBJ Extra Blog

The hipster movement: Investors take note

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Clearly, I need to start investing in rental properties.

Even if it's just so I can say: "I only rent to hipsters."

In maybe its best special report yet (my opinion), California-based RealtyTrac last week released its "Top 25 hipster zips for returns on rental properties," a piece geared toward investors who want to identify established hyper-local hipster markets where they can find solid returns.

Saint Paul, Minn., topped the list with nearly a 14 percent gross rent yield, followed by Pittsburgh at 10.8 percent. The Steel City was the lone representative from Pennsylvania to make the list of 83 cities once RealtyTrac applied its metrics.

How was the list created?

They started with ZIP codes with a large population — 20 percent or more — in the prime hipster age range, which is 25 to 34. That accounted for 13 percent of the total population.

From there, RealtyTrac looked at ZIP codes where at least 20 percent of the population either walked to work or used public transportation.

They also focused on ZIP codes where renters accounted for occupancy in at least half of all housing units and where vacancy was 5 percent or less.

That left the 83 ZIP codes, a list dominated by California, New York and the Washington, D.C., suburbs. No surprise.

The final ZIPs were sorted by gross yields based on fair market rents and median home prices.

Maybe Midtown Harrisburg will find its way on the list someday. Or Lancaster.

Central Pennsylvania has seen growth in trendy restaurants, bars, coffee shops and other amenities, which spells hipster.

The major problem: Most of us drive to work. Our core markets are spread out.

We're also too old.

Of the five counties in the Business Journal's primary coverage area, Dauphin County has the highest percentage of people age 25 to 34 at 13.1 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010-12 American Community Survey. The three-year estimates were released earlier this month.

Cumberland County was 12.2 percent, Lancaster County 11.9 percent, Lebanon County 11.1 percent and York County 11.6 percent.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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