The Top Commercial Real Estate Markets in the United States in 2020
For decades, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago dominated the commercial real estate sector. More recently, however, other metro areas have surpassed these major cities to take the top spots. While the COVID-19 pandemic has dampened some CRE predictions, many of the top markets are still poised to see growth. Here, we’re looking at 2020’s hottest commercial real estate markets heading into the new decade.
Migration away from large cities and into up-and-coming areas is driving new commercial real estate construction and leasing. From 2010-2019, residents in large metropolitan areas saw drastic increases in housing prices, but little increase in wages. Lack of affordable housing, as well as an increased cost of living, means more people are migrating to new locations. As such, multifamily housing, office space, and other commercial real estate investments are seeing a boost in smaller cities across America.
Forbes Magazine recently released their Top 5 cities for CRE investments in 2020. The list includes Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; and Dallas-Fort Worth. Driving the growth in these cities? Forbes suggests that international CRE may see slowing, making American interests more appealing to foreign investors.
However, Fortune Builders released a slightly different analysis, predicting the best CRE growth in Austin, Raleigh/Durham, Nashville, Charlotte, and Boston. Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlants also made the Fortune Builders list, though not in the Top 5.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Affecting Building Growth and Leasing
No discussion about commercial real estate investing or economic growth can responsibly occur without talking about the Coronavirus and its impact on CRE. The pandemic has affected businesses around the globe, including many in these up-and-coming CRE sectors. Retail and business tenants struggle to pay rent as we head into the second half of 2020, leaving property owners worried they’ll default on their mortgages.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. The Wall Street Journal finds that many financial experts think multifamily housing, particularly those properties owned by corporate landlords that survived the recession a decade ago, will come out of this pandemic relatively unscathed. Commercial construction projects from New York to San Francisco are reopening with modifications, showing signs that life will go on in commercial real estate. Some American locations hardly ceased construction at all.
While much of the CRE industry is slowing down because of the Coronavirus pandemic, these top commercial real estate markets are still expected to continue expanding as we head into the second half of 2020.
Using economic and pricing analysis from these and other sources, we’ve compiled our list of the Top Commercial Real Estate Markets in the United States in 2020.
The Central Texas town of Austin is continuing its commercial real estate winning streak. A 2019 report by Buildium named Austin the nation’s fastest-growing large city. All that growth means new residents, new businesses, and new industry for the Texas capitol. And that means commercial real estate is fast taking hold in Austin.
Residential real estate was sizzling in Austin heading into 2020. More businesses are relocating to this hip Texas town. But as Millennials move with these companies – namely big tech like Google, Facebook, Intel, Samsung, and more – urban living becomes increasingly attractive.
Younger generations are moving away from big, single-family homes and into apartments and condos within walking distance of both the office and entertainment. Therefore, many investors are turning to multifamily properties in and around Austin, which promise to see continuing increases in the coming years.
Austin’s also leading the way in environmental sustainability in commercial real estate, opening new doors to both investors and industry professionals. Construction and development are booming all over the city as Austin struggles to keep up with an influx of new talent.
Even in the face of a pandemic, Austin seems resilient. A recent article from the Austin Business Journal predicts that, while the city has seen its fair share of job loss, its tech-heavy workforce will rebound quickly.
Charlotte, North Carolina started the decade at the top of the commercial real estate investment list, according to tax and business advisor company PwC. A 2020 CRE investment report names Charlotte as a hub for new businesses starting from the bottom up. But many industry leaders in technology, manufacturing, and finance are also moving to Charlotte. The city sees commercial real estate investing markets are office space, industrial properties, and multifamily real estate.
More than 20% of North Carolina’s workforce has applied for unemployment benefits since the Coronavirus outbreak began. Before the pandemic, Charlotte had seen an unprecedented 113 months of nonstop economic growth. Sectors such as businesses, agriculture, and technology showed the strongest rise.
However, even amid the economic slowdown, experts predict Charlotte will bounce back faster than other areas of the country. Banking powerhouses like Wells Fargo and Bank of America have a large presence here. These financial institutions have been less impacted by the virus than other industries, showing promise that Charlotte can come back from this slow economic growth.
Though Boston may be smaller in geographic area than other cities on the list, it shows economic power on par with even the biggest American cities. The city ranks sixth in the nation for GDP per capita, and investors have taken notice over the past decade. Before the virus stalled economic growth, investors purchased office, multifamily, and industrial properties, expecting significant growth.
Now, a recession is here, and investors are wary of the future. In Boston, office space used to be hard to come by. Now, no one really knows what is in store for commercial real estate investment. Still, many experts agree that Boston’s diverse local economy, including resilient financial services, medical businesses, and technology, should help it rebound faster than other markets.
Boston attracts talent via its world-renowned educational institutions, making it a hub for new innovations that drive the future forward. As housing prices continue to rise, even in the face of economic hardship, more Bostonians opt for multifamily properties within walking distance of the office and entertainment.
Construction was well underway on several large-scale office complexes, condos, and hotels as COVID-19 took hold. Most Boston commercial real estate construction has been stalled since April 27. However, mid-May will see these projects resume, though there will be strict health and safety guidelines in place to protect workers. Progress might be slow, but Boston is still poised to weather the storm and come out on top.
Dallas-Fort Worth is a steady resident ontop commercial real estate market lists each year. Even now, investors continue to invest in DFW real estate because of the continual population and economic growth. Or perhaps investors flock to this thriving metropolis because of the widespread opportunity for success.
DFW saw the largest job growth in the nation last year, and that economic growth over the past decade should help it maintain a steady course through this crisis. Many tech companies are flocking to Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin, giving these cities a fantastic economic boost. Commercial investors, meanwhile, enjoy low vacancy rates and high returns on investment as more and more businesses move to the Lone Star State.
Even amid the Coronavirus’ economic downturn, Dallas-Fort Worth continues to see growth. Shipping giant Fed-Ex recently announced it would be opening a major distribution hub in South Dallas.
In recent years, Atlanta’s rents have risen more than anywhere else in the country. Heading into Q1 of 2020, multifamily properties were expected to do well. According to estimates made before the Coronavirus pandemic, Atlanta lease rates are expected to rise by 4% by 2024.
Even now, as Atlantans see record job losses, some businesses are growing. Amazon is opening a new distribution center, and economists say other sectors have rehired three in every ten employees laid off because of the pandemic. Atlanta also continues to be a leader in financial technology, welcoming new businesses into the city every year.
Atlanta is open for businesses, and city leaders hope their strong economic growth going into this recession will keep it afloat.
What’s Next for CRE Markets?
Recent global events have stalled many commercial real estate investing markets. It’s impossible to know how long it will take for the nation to recover from the devastating job losses that have swept the country.
Still, there are some bright spots in the CRE future.
These emerging commercial real estate markets have already caught investors’ attention:
- Nashville – The Music City has a low cost of doing business and reported 15 million new SF of new commercial space last year alone.
- Raleigh – The City of Oaks has a young workforce (23% of the population is age 20 to 34), strong universities (UNC, Duke and NC State), and an ever-increasing number of high-tech and pharmaceutical jobs. These sectors are all poised to make the fastest recovery.
- Salt Lake City – Utah’s capital city experienced some of the strongest job growth last year. In fact, the western city’s economy grew faster than nearly any city in the nation. It’s definitely a market to watch closely as we emerge from this pandemic.
The Continuing Shift
Many investors are shifting their focus away from primary markets and favoring the lower cost of secondary and tertiary markets where they can often pay half of what they would pay for similar assets. With competition crowding many investors out of primary markets, lower purchase costs and rising rents produce higher returns, making these secondary and tertiary markets even more attractive.
As a result, the future of the commercial real estate industry now lies outside of traditional big-city hubs like New York, Chicago, LA, and San Francisco.
Contact the Houston and DFW Real Estate Experts
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We know the ins-and-outs of each market and often have the inside track on trends and new properties.
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