When you investigate properties to buy, look ahead. What will their neighborhoods look like in the years and decades to come?

Take a close look at what needs improving, because the problems you see are opportunities. The more of them you can correct, the faster your property values will soar.

With the help of other property owners in the area, you can make improvements like these:

Improve traffic patterns. Would a stoplight, a revised parking plan or a new arrangement of one-way streets be an improvement? Would closing off some streets or making them dead-ends make it harder for motorists to speed through carelessly?

Increase public transportation. Something as simple as a new bus stop on an existing route can dramatically improve the quality of life for residents who commute.

Attract businesses. New retailers and restaurants inject new life into any neighborhood and halt decline.

Beautify. Start a civic organization to plant trees and shrubs in public areas. Find ways to eliminate or improve properties that have become eyesores. “Curb appeal” applies to a neighborhood, not just one home.

Change zoning. If you can prevent people from breaking single-family houses into apartments, for example, you can boost the value of other properties in the area.

Fight for better schools. Excellent or improving schools attract families and developers who specialize in family-oriented properties.

Improve safety and security. Pressure the city increase police presence. Make sure that street lamps are working and urge city hall to install new ones if needed. Meet with the school board and have them install speed bumps on streets were schools are located.

Organize neighborhood celebrations and events. They offer a great way to generate word-of-mouth “buzz” about the fact that your neighborhood is safe and good for families.

Promote the neighborhood. Talk it up with your friends. Get a local newspaper to write about improvements.

Get help. Mobilize mortgage lenders, businesses, other property-owners, religious institutions, police, elected officials and civic associations. Get them behind your efforts to improve.

We have all heard that location is critical in real estate. But location can mean many things. If you can improve a neighborhood, the value of the properties you acquire in it can double or triple in only five or 10 years. That’s an especially attractive strategy for real estate investors who aren’t yet ready to buy expensive properties in upscale locales.

This blog post is adapted from Trump University Real Estate 101 by Gary W. Eldred, PhD. Dr. Eldred is the professor for Trump University’s Real Estate Investor Program. Classes are now forming.

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