The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new era of desirable cities for both relocation and real estate investments. Prior to the pandemic, expensive coastal cities such as Los Angeles, NYC, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Washington D.C. allured in many based on the employment pool, diverse talent, and attractive city lifestyle.
Over time, these 7 markets have accounted for fewer and fewer top markets with people opting for less expensive cities with affordable homes, lower cost of living, and thriving employment pool. Almost all of the top-rated real estate markets are located in faster-growing southern and western regions away from the coast (with a few exceptions). These top 10 hottest cities have attracted employers and net new mitigation and will continue to be hot real estate markets to invest in.
1. Nashville, Tennessee
- Summary of the market: Nicknamed “Music City,” the capital of Tennessee is the most populous city in the state. It is also one of the hottest markets in the U.S. during the pandemic for buyers from larger markets like Seattle, New York, and California. One of the biggest pull factors is that Tennessee is one of the seven states that does not impose an income tax. It is safe to assert that there is still more demand for housing than the current supply which increases property appreciation.
- Median price: $461,620
- Days on the market: 25
- 1-year forecast: 15-20%
- Biggest employers: Vanderbilt University and Medical Center, Nissan North America, HCA Holdings, Saint Thomas Health Services, Community Health Systems, Randstad, Asurion, The Kroger Company, National Healthcare Corporation, and Shoney’s
2. Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina
- Summary of the market: The Raleigh/ Durham real estate market shows no signs of slowing down. It is landlord friendly and has a diverse economic base which includes several hospitals and Research Triangle Park (RTP), the largest high technology research and science park in all of North America. The ample job opportunities attract a large population of graduates to stay in the area post-graduation. Ample job opportunities, a diverse talent pool, and an affordable cost of living will continue to attract migration into the city.
- Median price: $389,000
- Days on the market: 22
- 1-year forecast: 24-28%
- Biggest employers: Compass Group, Lowe’s Companies, Bank of America, Honeywell International, Total S.A., Quintiles Transnational, VG, Hanesbrands, Food Lion, and Family Dollar
3. Phoenix, Arizona
- Summary of the market: Arizona is known for its great weather, stunning landscape, job opportunities, and low cost of living. The state is also considered landlord-friendly based on its inexpensive property taxes which are one of the lowest in the country. Laws also benefit landlords and there’s flexibility when it comes to written notices and eviction laws (late rent payment warrants a 5-day notice while lease violations allow for a 10-day eviction notice).
- Median price: $475,000
- Days on the market: 21
- 1-year forecast: 26.7%
- Biggest employers: State of Arizona, Wal-mart Stores INC., Banner Health, City of Phoenix, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Arizona State University, Apollo Group Inc., and JP Morgan Chase & Co.
4. Austin, Texas
- Summary of the market: Austin has become one of the most trending markets during the pandemic and shows no signs of slowing down. It was reported that in 2021, the population grew by 145 persons per day on average. Strong economic factors will continue to attract companies along with the talent to the vibrant city. Also, an interesting fact is almost half of Austin’s population is between the ages of 18-44 but is skewed by the large student population. With more than 48% of households being renter-occupied, it’s a great market to invest in (however slowly becoming unaffordable for many).
- Median price: $620,000
- Days on the market: 21
- 1-year forecast: 15-25%
- Biggest employers: Apple, Ascension Seton, Austin Independent School District, Dell Technologies, IMB Corp., Samsung Austin Semiconductor, St. David’s Healthcare Partnership, University of Texas Austin
5. Tampa/ St. Petersburg, Florida
- Summary of the market: The steady job growth has allowed for higher-paying professional and business service opportunities. The economy is also diverse with top sectors including finance, technology, tourism, construction, and the Port of Tampa, the largest in Florida fueling commerce. Florida is also a no-income tax state and has a favorable business climate.
- Median price: $390,000
- Days on the market: 38
- 1-year forecast: 5-10%
- Biggest employers: Publix Super Markets Inc., BayCare Health Care Systems, Walmart, Verizon Communications, TECO Energy Inc., MacDill Air Force Base, Times Publishing Co., and OSI Restaurant Partners LLC (casual dining company operator of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, and Flemings Steakhouse)
6. Charlotte, North Carolina
- Summary of the market: Charlotte has a record of being one of the best long-term real estate investments in the US due to high demand and low inventory. Compared to the national housing market, real estate in Charlotte is somewhat still affordable. The median age is 34 and many people migrate for work. This makes it an ideal market for younger people to raise families and is even considered a top destination for Millennials. Charlotte ranked 22nd as the best place to live and the best place to retire.
- Median price: $349,700
- Days on the market: 23
- 1-year forecast: 20-25%
- Biggest employers: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Duke Energy, Atrium Health, Novant Health, Amazon, Lending Tree, Lowe, Bojangles
7. Dallas/ Fort Worth, Texas
- Summary of the market: Everything is bigger in Texas! As one of the largest metropolitan areas in the US, Dallas is currently at the center of Texas’s housing market. Dallas’s population has grown twice the national average and rents continue to increase as builders are unable to construct new housing to accommodate the influx of migration. Dallas has the lowest homeownership rate in the country with renting being more affordable than buying. Dallas’s local economy is a mix of aerospace, computer chips, telecommunications, transportation, and healthcare.
- Median price: $399,505
- Days on the market: 34
- 1-year forecast: 15-20%
- Biggest employers: Walmart, American Airlines Group, AT&T, Baylor and White, HCA North Texas, JPMorgan Chase, Medical City Dallas, Texas Instruments, and UT Southwestern
8. Atlanta, Georgia
- Summary of the market: Hotlanta, as the famous city is often referred to, allures people from around the world for its mild climate, affordable housing, stable economy, and diverse population. Atlanta has its historical roots as the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement and is also home to the busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The real estate market has grown over the past several years which makes it an ideal place to live and invest in.
- Median price: 375,000
- Days on the market: 37
- 1-year forecast: 18-25%
- Biggest employers: Delta Airlines, Emory University & Emory Healthcare, The Home Depot, Northside Hospital, Piedmont Healthcare, Publix Super Markets, WellStar Health Systems, The Kroger Co. AT&T, UPS, Marriott International
9. Seattle, Washington
- Summary of the market: Starbucks has always been synonymous with Seattle but there are many other pull factors that make the city a great place for investing in real estate. Seattle blends the great outdoors with a rich music scene and ample employment opportunities, known as a second-tier technology hub. The city is also known for its business and landlord-friendly climate and large student rental market.
- Median price: $880,000
- Days on the market:
- 1-year forecast: 12-18%
- Biggest employers: Amazon, Alaska Air Group, Costco Wholesale, Microsoft, Nintendo of America, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Infosys, Boeing, Accenture
10. Boston, Massachusetts
- Summary of the market: Boston is known for its famous clam chowder, the Boston Marathon, Red Sox, and some of the most prestigious universities in the country. It is no wonder that the city’s world-class institutions attract some of the largest employers in medicine, finance, and biotech. Boston’s real estate market is vibrant and considered a high-priced market although not as expensive as Washington D.C., San Francisco, or NYC. Investing in Boston will prove to appreciate over the long term however high prices may make it unaffordable to new first-time investors.
- Median price: $760,000
- Days on the market: 13
- 1-year forecast: 15.1%
- Biggest employers: Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Fidelity Investments, Boston University, Beth Israel Co., BankBoston, New England Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, Liberty Mutual
Over time, these markets have accounted for fewer and fewer top markets with people opting for less expensive cities with affordable homes, lower cost of living, and thriving employment pool. If you’re looking for the most affordable states rather than markets across the U.S., there’s a great resource here.