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Gaffney, it’s no House of Cards
June 18, 2014Article by Ray Withers
Most people have been introduced to Gaffney, a town in South Carolina, USA, through the TV series ‘House of Cards.’
Gaffney’s most striking feature is a 135 foot, peach-shaped, water tower which was built in 1981 as an homage to the town’s then-booming peach business. If you haven’t seen it, then I’ll give you a moment to Google it – or just check out the photo to the right.
Now let’s face it, the “Peachoid” does rather resemble a bottom. In fact, in the ‘House of Cards’ episode starring the area’s most famous asset, a teenager crashes her car while texting her boyfriend about the resemblance.
The show’s executive producer and lead writer, Beau Willimon, said of the storyline: “It was just too delicious, no pun intended, to not incorporate it.”
In the episode, Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) has to return to his hometown to put out a political fire which ensues after the crash. To find out more about Underwood’s connection to the giant peach you’ll have to watch it (season one, episode three).
A finance hub, Forbes top ten and English scholars
With such a prominent feature, you’d be excused for not noticing what was behind it, but there is more to the town of Gaffney than meets the eye.
Gaffney, South Carolina, is located just 45 minutes from North Carolina’s financial hub of Charlotte, with its international airport; and 40 minutes from Greenville, South Carolina, which ranks as a Forbes “America’s Top Ten” best city for young professionals.
Gaffney itself plays home to Limestone College, the largest, private, regionally accredited institution in South Carolina. Established in 1845 by English born scholars, Limestone is also the third oldest in the State. Now a coeducational arts college, Limestone’s total enrolment exceeds 3,500 students and is growing year on year.
With this growing enrolment, comes a need for on-campus accommodation. Students are required to live on-campus if they are under 21 years of age and there are limited properties available.
The Chandler Oaks development is the first of three planned residential developments in the area to cater to the dual growing demand of students and young city professionals. This will create a total portfolio of 280 one and two bed apartments within a 45 minute radius of Charlotte.
Of the three, Chandler Oaks is the only one refurbished for student residency and has done so to catch the overflow from Limestone College. There is a tenancy agreement in place from the College President for 63 of the apartments, with the remainder leased to third year students as well as young professionals.
Donald loves Charlotte
The developer purposely chose the Charlotte area due to its economic growth, including city and airport expansion, industrial enlargement – along with interest from Donald Trump.
Trump told Eyewitness News: “We love North Carolina. To me, I just think this is the best area, a phenomenal place. The houses are going through the roof. I have so many friends in NC, it’s a great place.”
Thanks to its dual income potential from both the private student accommodation market and young city professionals, Chandler Oaks is certainly attracting attention from investors. I don’t think Donald Trump has added it to his own portfolio yet, but I know a few clever people who have.
Double digit yields, rising property prices and great exchange rates
You can expect up to 11.4 per cent gross yield on this development, with an 8 per cent contracted income underwritten to January 1st 2020. Also, unlike some ‘student pods’ in the UK, Chandler Oaks offers a defined exit strategy as the units can be easily sold. They are also available from just $48,670 USD (around £28,654 GBP).
With its ‘House of Cards’ fame, along with its Charlotte / Greenville catchment, Gaffney is fast becoming a desirable place to live. According to the latest from Zillow, Gaffney home values have increased by 5.1 per cent in the last year (April 2013 – 2014) with the median value now $57,300. At State level, South Carolina homes have risen 2.8 per cent over the past year with a further 1.5 per cent forecast for the next year.
It’s also a great time to invest in the USA thanks to favourable exchange rates, as we covered in our recent article Supersize returns on the Great British pound: FX shows strongest sterling rate against US dollar for 5.5 years.