According to an article published by RISMedia, Richmond, Virginia is one of the top markets in the entire country for purchasing residential rental property. That doesn't surprise me. HUGE and growing public university with inadequate housing supply. Growing Millenial population. In-migration of professionals from other parts of the country to take jobs at some of the big Richmond employers, like Capital One, Martin Agency, VCU, etc.
The problem right now is there is so little supply of investment properties and we have an ever-increasing pool of investors chasing the same limited supply. My long-time investors are crabby about it, since people new to the game are driving the price of real estate up, up, UP. And it makes it more difficult to find and land investment properties, when you are in competition.
My suggestion: Figure out your ideal renter profile. Do you want undergraduates? Young professionals? Families with school age children? Then look to areas that right now might be considered "fringe" for your ideal renter but still have main amenities they would want, whether it's walkability, yard and access to the river, good schools. Recognize that you may likely have to offer discounted rent to overcome the perceived locational disadvantage to get great tenants. In other words, follow the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 of real estate - location, location, location! - but try to be predictive of the next "hot" areas by being logical about the known wants and needs of the rental population.
As always, just my $.02. Always interested in the opinions of others, so hit me up and share your thoughts in the "Comments" section.