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By Caleb Harshberger  – Staff Writer, Triangle Business Journal
Oct 14, 2020, 2:34pm EDT Updated Oct 14, 2020, 3:16pm EDT

After spending the last two years hovering in the top three, the Triangle has been named the top market in the country for real estate prospects heading into the new year, according to an annual report by the Urban Land Institute and PwC.

As uncertainty abounds across the country amid the pandemic, the report found the Triangle maintained many of the strengths it has enjoyed in previous years, boosting its standing past reigning champ Austin, Texas – No. 2 this year ahead of Nashville, Tennessee, which held its third place ranking. Charlotte came in at No. 5.

The report is among the largest in the industry and comprises a survey of around 3,000 real estate professionals to forecast the trends and markets to watch in the coming year. ULI and PwC also rank the top 80 U.S. cities in the country based on their real estate prospects headed into 2021.

In addition to the overall market ranking, ULI and PwC again named Raleigh the No. 1 market for homebuilding prospects, with Austin just behind and followed by Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.

A recurring theme in the report is the pandemic’s acceleration of trends in demographic shifts, retailing, as well as working from home.

The report found that cities across the Sunbelt, such as Raleigh, Charlotte and Nashville,Tennessee, continue to experience an influx of new residents leaving northern cities such as New York and Chicago.

“A significant single-family-housing market trend emanating from the Covid-19 pandemic is ‘the Great American Move,’” the report reads. “People (and businesses) are moving in all sorts of ways – to different geographies, from denser cities to the suburbs, from an apartment to a home, and, for some, back “home” to live with family members. There is no better evidence of the Great American Move than the booming single-family-housing markets – especially in the more attainably priced areas of the United States.”

Additionally, uncertainty is high for the future of office space as companies around the country continue loosening restrictions on work-from-home policies, opening up more options for where workers may choose to live and work. For example, REI has sold its new headquarters in Washington state to Facebook and plans to break up its workforce across a collection of markets.

All this could spell opportunity for markets like the Triangle, though the impact of demand for office space long term is yet to be clear.

The study is ULI and PwC’s 42nd since starting the Emerging Trends in Real Estate report.