According to Statista, the United States is home to nearly 20,000 small towns.
Buy/sell, rent/lease residential &
commercials real estate properties.
Many are in decline — losing residents, jobs and their tax base — seemingly with their best days behind them. But others are budding real estate boomtowns, poised to make homeowners and investors who buy properties today very rich in a decade, or maybe even half that time.
But how can ordinary buyers spot the provincial paradises in the remote and rural rough?
“The key here is knowing what type of town to look for,” said real estate agent Leonard Ang, CEO of iPropertyManagement, an online resource for landlords, tenants and real estate investors. “The usual candidate is an exurb or farming town just outside of a major metropolitan area, especially one that has major highway work scheduled soon. This is a clear sign that an area is starting to heat up as a suburban destination. If you can own property in a town like this before the big development boom hits, you can really cash in.”
According to three real estate agents who know how to spot the next big small town, here are five towns of 5,000 to 10,000 people that have the potential to make real estate buyers rich in five to 10 years.
New Richmond, Wisconsin
The criteria that Ang outlined for spotting small towns with the potential for significant appreciation five or 10 years down the line led him to a hamlet of around 10,000 residents in the Great Lakes region.
“One great example in the upper Midwest is New Richmond, Wisconsin,” he said. “It’s in the northwestern part of the state, just across the border from the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. Nearby Hudson and River Falls have already had their big suburban booms, and New Richmond is next on the list.”
The town’s real estate market has already experienced a mini-boom over the last five years, with the median home value climbing from $228,000 in 2018 to $351,000 today.
Like Ang, Humberto Marquez, a licensed broker with the real estate investing firm Awning, has a knack for spotting up-and-coming enclaves that are poised to make their name on the map.
“Identifying emerging markets, especially in small towns, requires a mix of analyzing current trends, local economic factors and potential future growth,” he said.
Most recently, his formula has led him to a town of 9,000 in the Northwest.
“Nestled between the Schweitzer Mountain ski resort and beautiful Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint is a scenic town with significant growth potential,” said Marquez. “The town has seen an influx of remote workers and retirees, attracted by its mix of outdoor activities and quaint town life. I had a recent interaction with an investor who was exploring holiday rental properties here, anticipating demand from tourists and seasonal skiers.”
In the last five years alone, the median home in Sandpoint nearly doubled in value from $303,000 in 2018 to $601,000 today.
Over the last five years, the median home value in Bisbee, nestled in the ruggedly beautiful Mule Mountains, has soared from $118,000 in 2018 to more than $212,000 today. 
But many industry veterans think the little but lively bohemian border town of 4,911 has plenty more room to run.
“Located in southeastern Arizona, Bisbee is a historic mining town with unique architecture and a vibrant arts scene,” said Ritika Asrani, head broker and sole owner of luxury real estate firm Century21 St Maarten. “Its proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border has made it an attractive destination for retirees and artists seeking an affordable and distinctive lifestyle. The town’s real estate market is showing potential for appreciation.”
Home to just 3,553 people, Ketchum is even smaller than Bisbee — but its real estate market is at least as dynamic.
Over the last five years, property owners watched as the median home value nearly doubled from $700,000 in 2018 to $1.34 million today — but the market appears poised to create even more millionaires in the next five or 10 years.
“Ketchum, in the Sun Valley region, is known for its world-class skiing and outdoor recreation,” said Asrani. “The town’s real estate market has been strong due to the influx of outdoor enthusiasts and remote workers. As more people seek a balance between work and play, Ketchum’s real estate market is likely to continue growing.”
With a population of just 2,286, Apalachicola is less than half the size of Bisbee, but its real estate market is on the way up. The median property owner enjoyed pandemic-era appreciation that saw its value rise from $167,000 in 2018 to roughly $308,000 today.
“Apalachicola is a picturesque coastal town in the Florida Panhandle,” said Asrani. “With its charming historic district and a focus on preserving its maritime heritage, it has been gaining attention from those seeking a quieter coastal lifestyle. The town’s real estate market offers the potential for investment as more individuals look for waterfront and historic properties.”
All home values are from Zillow.
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