The cost of money (rates) right now is ridiculously cheap. On a long term basis, locking in such a low interest rate now makes a lot of sense and if you can get it to cash flow today, you shouldn't have problems in the future. I just wouldn't bank on any substantial appreciation for a few years.
Craigslist is invaluable... if you're still uncertain of interest, put up a test ad for a couple days with the rental amount and features of the home(s) you're looking at and see what kind of responses you get... if there's strong interest you should see at least a few emails in the span of a couple days.
If you have a five plus year horizen it is a great time to buy investment real estate. You can buy low and lock into some great rates. Check the papers and Craig's list to see what rents are going for, I have kept my rentals full easily the last few years.
Michael Doyle Realtor
1) listings were down 7.6%
2) Closed Sales were down 25%
3) The average sales price increased by 1.3%
4) The average days on the market were 152 days
5) The sold price compared to list price was 94.8%, down from 97.1% in 2006.
What this tells us is that while listings were down some, buyers were not buying in Chaska as much as they did in previous years. It is also interesting so see that sellers have still been asking for above market prices, but buyers haven't been buying until those sellers bring their list prices down quite a bit.
The 312 is definately going to help the area as it will be easier for residents to commute and it is expected to bring in future business ventures. I have spoken to many home owners who are so glad the 312 is open. Only time will tell how this effects the real estate and rental markets.
What is most important is that sellers price their homes right from the beginning in order to attract buyers quickly. With a 25% drop in closed sales this last year, I don't see 2008 being any better. Home prices haven't declined in Chaska, for the most part, so buying an investment property there would have to be a really good deal. They can be found, you just have to look for them. Your best bet might be to look into foreclosures in Carver County...right now, these are the best deals around. If there is anything else I can help you with, please don't hesitate to ask!
Either way....being near a 212 off/on ramp will be vital to selling your rental as commuter friendly.
I have quite a number of clients and friends that have rental properties spread throughout the twin cities area and without exception, they say the rental market is great and rents are increasing.
I would tell you now is a great time to buy remtal proerty and that corridor is prime for appreciation because of the 312 project.
Good luck in your endeavor!