It’s that time of year when you’re either super happy that your team made it to the big game, or you’re frustrated with your team’s performance throughout the season (such as my Panthers) or still recovering from a playoff blowout (I’m talking to you, Cowboy fans). Or you could be an Eagles fan and question your existence after what’s happened over the last 365 days (much to my delight).
At any rate, life goes on, and only one team can win the trophy. What we do have more control over, though, is where we place our money in real estate.
Here, BiggerPockets looks at every NFL real estate market, ranking them on a variety of metrics, starting with cash flow potential and ending with my personal take on which markets have the best long-term prospects.
I’ll start by noting a few exceptions. First, the Rams and the Chargers are both in Los Angeles, and the Jets and the Giants both play in New Jersey. I used NYC metro data, which includes Newark and Jersey City. I, too, believe that the New York Giants should be the New Jersey Giants.
In addition, many teams, beyond the Jets and Giants, don’t actually play in the city they’re named for. The 49ers, for example, play in Santa Clara, which is more San Jose than it is San Francisco. The Cowboys play in Arlington, the Commanders play in Landover, and so on.
To make things easier and consistent, I used metro data from the city that the team represents in their name. So, for the 49ers, I’m using San Francisco-Oakland data, not San Jose.
With that cleared up, let’s look at the numbers.
NFL Markets With the Best Cash Flow Potential
To measure cash flow potential, we calculate the rent-to-price ratio (RTP). This is done by dividing the rent price of a market by its median sales price. Ideally, RTPs closer to 1% indicate strong cash flow potential, while values below 0.65% start to get a little iffy.
RTP has fallen in recent years due to rising prices in both the rental market and the sales market, on top of higher interest rates. What that really means is that cash flow is not nearly as easy to come by as it was a decade ago. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find. Every market has somewhere with cash flow potential, you just need to find it.
Below is the list of all NFL markets sorted by their RTP.
Cleveland leads the list, with a pretty solid RTP of 0.72%. Bottoming out the list is none other than San Francisco, with a paltry RTP of 0.27%. Once again, that’s not to say that San Fran doesn’t have cash flow potential in any part, but you’ll be stretched to find it. Try Oakland, though.
NFL Markets With the Best Prices
A good home price is subjective, but ideally, we’re looking for a place with an “affordable” median sales price with strong long-term growth prospects.
Above, you can see all of the markets and their median sales price. Unsurprisingly, San Francisco tops the list with an extraordinarily high price tag of over $1.1 million. The lowest on the list is Cleveland at $185,000, which explains why it has the highest RTP of all markets.
You’ll also notice that Green Bay has the lowest rent price at $1,000, while the highest in New York at $3,100. A takeaway from this data is that there’s a strong correlation between home prices and rent prices up to $2,000 in rent and $400,000 in sales price. Then, after that, the numbers are scattered, with New York being markedly cheaper in home prices compared to that of San Francisco but having higher rent prices.
It further proves the point that real estate is local, but it also gives you a sense of what to expect at certain price points. I’m sure if we expanded this dataset to include more markets, we’d see a similar trendline.
What Markets I Think Are Poised to Do Well
Most of the markets on this list have plenty of investment opportunities and would be perfectly fine to invest in. However, the big standouts to me are Buffalo and Cleveland.
Cleveland’s high RTP and affordability are major draws, especially since it’s an established city in a region of the country that’s starting to see a little bit of revitalization. Many people begin moving there from the more expensive parts of the country, and Ohio as a state is relatively low risk in regards to weather and insurance costs. Plus, since we’re talking about football, I’d be lazy not to mention that Cleveland has a great sports scene, with not just the Browns but the Cavaliers and Guardians.
Buffalo, on the other hand, actually just topped the list for Zillow’s hottest markets of 2024. Why? It’s got a great economy, affordable prices, a very passionate Bills fanbase, and lots of great investment opportunities. It’s been growing for the last few years, both in terms of population and economics, and it looks like things will continue to move in that direction.
Overall, where you invest comes down to your individual preferences and strategies. Long-term holds would do well in most of the markets, but short-term rentals can work in markets like Tampa just as well.
Enjoy the game!
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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.