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Which cities give you the highest return on a rental investment?

These 8 outliers yield more than 10% and aren't where you expect

Rents are going up all over the country in hot markets where people are priced out of homeownership. But increasing rents don't tell the whole story, as this list from RentRange demonstrates. While Florida and California had some of the biggest rent increases — accounting for seven of the top 10 in that category —  the places that saw the largest average yields in the third quarter were a little off the beaten path. 

The list was put together by RentRange, which gathers rental data on approximately 250,000 single-family houses per month from a variety of contractual sources, including multiple listing services, property managers, landlords and listing web sites. Yields are derived from RentRange’s proprietary automated valuation model.

Here are the eight best areas for getting a return on your rental investment, listed with the average yield for the third quarter.

1. Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama 14.8%


Rental rates in Birmingham increased 9.8% in the third quarter, far less than the average MSA in California, but the city's affordability means that investors got more ROI than anywhere else in the country.

2. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas 14%


The Houston area joins the Dallas MSA, below, in delivering Texas-sized returns for investors profiting from the sharp increase in housing prices in the Lone Star State. 

3. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas 13.4%

Texas star

Like Houston, the DFW metro area benefits from increased job growth combined with rising home prices and limited inventory, a combination that spells good news for SFR investors. 

4. Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas 12.7%

kansas city

This area of the midwest doesn't always appear on lists for hot housing markets, but the Kansas City MSA is yielding more than just great barbecue for investors right now.

5. Columbus, Ohio 12.4%


Houses are being bought before they even go on the market in this capital city, so it's no surprise that there are plenty of rental gains to be had as well. 

6. Tulsa, Oklahoma 11.7%


The rental return on investment is outsized for this Tornado-Alley city, which is home to only about 400,000 people. 

7. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida 11.5%


The Tampa area saw rents rise 10.3% in the third quarter.

8. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida 10.6%


A steady stream of theme-park workers no doubt contribute to the pool of renters in this MSA, home of the Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios. 

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