"I only buy real estate in small towns with mayors that have >10k TikTok followers..."

Sounds like a wild strategy, right? Well, we may not be too many years out from this becoming a reality.

Here’s my take for this week: Local elected officials who make themselves more accessible online will have an overwhelmingly positive effect on their local RE markets. 📈

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What is going on in Stamford, Texas? 👀 

Earlier this year, when I first ran across James Decker, Mayor of Stamford (pop. 2,900), I was perusing articles about small towns and found out he publishes both a podcast and a popular newsletter on substack called West of 98. I was intrigued. From James in a recent newsletter:

"I don’t care about politics. I am tired of culture wars, cable news, social media clickbait, and people who seek to divide in the name of power and influence. I care about community."

Now, while the platforms he leans on are more social-media-adjacent, it's still a level of accessibility and visibility from a local mayor way beyond what I am used to seeing. It allows for a personal connection and feeling of involvement from millennial citizens that, from where I'm sitting, has had some interesting knock-on effects. Just a few highlights I've come across from the last few month:

  • The main "town square" is being revitalized
  • The little movie theater play movies again
  • The town swimming pool got a facelift and saw almost 6k visitors this summer
  • Emergency and community services are improving, not declining
  • The citizens seem to genuinely want to participate in their own governance

I often ask my imaginary crystal ball what it's going to be like in 2050 when my generation finally takes power in most government positions. And it seems like we're all getting a bit of a positive preview in this small Texas town. 

Would I factor this in when it comes to real estate investing?

Probably, to some degree. Obviously politicians have outsized influence in smaller towns when compared to those in large cities. And there are examples of this "future-political" strategy not yielding quite as stark results, but instead just becoming more of an oddity.

While I wouldn't weigh a mayor or city council members' instagram follower count as much as census, labor force or home price indices, if you forced me to buy an empty retail building in a small town today, I would pick Stamford, and it would 100% be because of what James Decker is doing. Food for thought.

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