Hottest US cities for real estate money

While “location, location, location" is key to all things real estate, the real secret sauce is jobs, jobs, jobs. Real estate investors follow the people.

Nearly a decade ago, as the U.S. economy slowly began to recover from the Great Recession, Austin, the Texas capital, made it into our annual real estate survey’s top 10 ranking. The “weird” city was experiencing an influx of people seeking and finding work.

Fast forward to our outlook for 2020 and Austin is in the top spot, and it clearly isn’t weird to real estate investors -- or American companies.

It’s not just Austin. A few years ago, as the labor market began to tighten, we saw a trend emerging. The big cities -- 24-hour gateway hubs like New York, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco -- began falling out of favor as smaller ones were attracting outsized capital investment.

All the rage

Today these hot smaller cities are all the rage with investors, according to PwC and the Urban Land Institute’s 41st annual addition of the Emerging Trends in Real Estate report.

Here’s a look at this year’s top ten hottest cities for real estate cash and why many people are buying one-way tickets south.

No. 10: Seattle

Image of the Space Needle, Seattle, Great Wheel, Piers, and skyscrapers.

Investors and developers are attracted to the high per-capita productivity, coupled with the deep base of established and emerging tech businesses.

No: 9 Los Angeles

Los Angeles Skyline, tall buildings featuring reflections from other buildings, March 2, 2017, Los Angeles, California, USA

A standout feature in the market is the resurgence of its downtown; a local economy that generates over $1 trillion in gross metro product; and a sales tax projected to stimulate $133 billion in economic development over the coming decades.


No. 8: Atlanta 

Atlanta, Georgia, USA downtown city skyline.

Atlanta has done a great job of creating walkable and mix-use developments. The unique culture has attracted many investors and developers to the area, bringing about a successful reinvention of the city.

No. 7: Orlando

"Aerial View of Lake Eola, Orlando, Florida" (iStock)

When people imagine Florida, they often think of its aging population — but Orlando is actually growing younger. The influx of younger workers and their families contributes greatly to the local economy; creating demand for real estate.

No. 6: Dallas

Aerial View of Downtown Dallas in the Evening -Dallas, Texas, USA

The diversity of employers in Dallas-Fort Worth contributes greatly to the area's ability to attract and retain talent in an extremely tight national labor market.

No. 5: Boston

Morning view of Quincy Market along the Freedom Trail across from the Great Hall of Faneuil Square in Boston Massachusetts USA

It's no secret that Boston has a large group of top-ranked colleges and universities in the area, giving companies access to a highly-skilled labor pool. Workers are the fuel for economic expansion, and Boston has a leg up with talent readily available.

No. 4: Charlotte

Lowe’s has picked Charlotte, North Carolina as the site for its future global technology center, bringing in new jobs to the area, the company said. (Lowe's)

This North Carolina city is one of the most attractive destinations for talent and business in the country. The diversity of companies relocating to Charlotte greatly contributes to its ability to attract and retain talent in an extremely tight national labor market. Universities in Charlotte and across the Carolinas have also made workforce development a high priority, equipping graduates with the skills they need to interact and solve problems in a digital-first world.

No. 3: Nashville

Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee. Nashville is known as the country-music capital of the world. The city is also known for its culture and commerce and great bar scene

The popularity of Nashville is not limited to country music; the population of this city continues to grow, fueling economic activity. More and more businesses are moving to the area and tapping into the diverse and growing pool of qualified workers.

No. 2: Raleigh-Durham

Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina at night.

In the Raleigh-Durham area, the labor pool and the diversity of talent have been instrumental to the development of the region. Raleigh's outstanding colleges and universities produce graduates who are ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow and drive our workforce to become more inclusive. This region has developed a reputation as a technology hotbed, which has proven to be very attractive for businesses relocating to the area.

No. 1: Austin

University of Texas Austin campus at sunset-dusk - aerial view

Austin continues to experience massive population growth. In a nationally tight labor market, the pool of skilled talent flocking to this city makes it attractive to employers, so it's no surprise that companies and real estate investors want to build and invest here.