Top 10 Real Estate Markets in 2021: Dallas, Charlotte & Tampa Make the List

Kate Christensen

Summary: In this article, learn why the top real estate markets in 2021 include Dallas, Charlotte and Tampa. Find out what each of these markets has to offer investors. Bonus: How COVID-19 is impacting trends in real estate.  


Three of our best markets made PricewaterhouseCoopers list for Top 10 Real Estate Markets in 2021. Two cities in North Carolina, Charlotte at #5 and Raleigh/Durham at #1! Dallas was ranked #4 and Tampa #6 as the best real estate markets this year. 

The cities that earned the honors of top real estate markets for this year are ranked by a set of categories. These categories include: strong population growth, homebuilding outlook, affordability and job prospects. Data within these markets that was also considered were the number of home sales, inventory available, and the percentage of homes sold within two weeks. 

Other cities like New York and San Francisco, have experienced a decline in both home values and number of homes sold. These large cities that have been highly impacted by COVID-19 will have to find a way to adapt to these new and arising trends. 

Next, we’ll share the major trends that have been ignited by the Coronavirus pandemic and an update on how it’s specifically impacting Charlotte, Dallas, and Tampa. Then, we’ll go into detail about why these three markets are among the best real estate markets in 2021.

There have been a number of key trends that have surged ahead quickly thanks to COVID-19. Two of these pandemic trends include:

  • Work From Home Triggering The ‘Great American Migration’ to the ‘Burbs
  • A Move to the Sun Belt States

The ‘Great American Migration’ to the ‘Burbs

Many employers have given the go-ahead for employees to permanently work from home. Since then, there’s been a noticeable influx of people (and businesses) moving away from densely populated cities and out to the suburbs. 

There’s been a shift away from apartments and into homes.  Many people are also choosing to move back “home” to live with family members. Either to save a buck or social distance. The bottom line is that a migration to the suburbs is a direct result of COVID-19. The desire to live in areas with more open space and fewer people continues to grow.

The Sun Belt States Are On Fire

Many cities located in Sun Belt states not only offer more space and less people, they’re still incredibly affordable. With a rise in people moving to the suburbs, these states have become an attractive option, particularly for Millennials. This trend is supported by Raleigh/Durham sitting at #1 on PwC’s list.  Small to mid-sized cities like Durham and Raleigh are expected to be the hottest real estate markets in 2021.

Additionally, companies looking to save on taxes are drawn to these business-friendly states that are more affordable and experiencing strong job growth. Not to mention the steady rise in population as people come to fill these positions. 

The appeal to living in expensive cities, like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, seems to be fading fast. And with more Millennials looking to buy homes and start households in affordable areas, there’s been a massive shift in demographics across markets nationwide. 

The three top real estate markets we will highlight in this article all reside in “Sub Belt” states and their outlook for 2021 is bright. Here’s a summary of why…

Infographic Highlighting - Dallas, Charlotte, Tampa Top Real Estate Markets 2021

#4 Dallas - Top Real Estate Market in 2021

The Dallas metropolitan area moved up PwC’s top markets list in 2021 from #6 to #4. Considered a “New Boomtown”, Dallas & Fort Worth are two ‘Super Sun Belt Magnet Cities’ attracting new residents and companies alike. 

Between 2019 and 2025, reports estimate that new jobs in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area will increase by 28%. A balanced economy and growing job market make Dallas/Fort Worth an attractive place to invest in real estate.  

Texas is a super landlord-friendly state. Another bonus for rental property owners is that 59% of people living in Dallas rent. The rental population in Fort Worth is approximately 44%. Both are good indicators of strong rental demand making the Dallas real estate market one of the best for 2021.

Below are more housing market rankings for Dallas/Fort Worth according to research from Mashvisor.

More Dallas/Fort Worth Housing Market Rankings for 2021:

  • #3 for Homebuilding Prospects
  • #2 for Real Estate Investor Demand
  • #9 for Development and Redevelopment Opportunities
  • #2 for Availability of Debt and Equity Capital

#5 Charlotte - Top Real Estate Markets in 2021

Charlotte is another mid-sized city located in the Sun Belt state of North Carolina. This 18-hour city is growing in population by the day (181% faster than the national average). The job market is growing and so is demand for affordable housing. In fact, around half of people living in Charlotte rent. 

To meet the demands of this population growth in the Charlotte area, several downtown redevelopment projects are underway. These projects are meant to boost the local economy and support surrounding residential communities. Along with a new downtown, Charlotte’s redevelopment efforts are focused around an accessible and extensive transportation system

While the unemployment rate in Charlotte has been higher than the national average during the pandemic, there are jobs being added to the market everyday. Six Fortune 500 companies are located in the Charlotte area (headquarters of Lowe’s and Bank of America). With strongholds in the health care and banking industries, Charlotte attracts a variety of workers that support a diverse job market.

Below are more Charlotte real estate market stats and outlook for 2021, according to Mashvisor.

More Charlotte Housing Market Rankings for 2021:

  • #11 for Homebuilding Prospects
  • #4 for Real Estate Investor Demand
  • #2 for Development & Redevelopment Opportunities
  • #5 for Availability of Debt & Equity Capital

Outlook for Charlotte Multifamily Market in 2021:

  • 56% of experts recommend buying multifamily property 
  • 36% of experts recommend holding onto your multifamily property long-term
  • 8% recommend selling

#6 Tampa - Top Real Estate Markets in 2021

Tampa is considered another ‘Boom Market’ which has benefitted from a dramatic increase in population during the pandemic. In the last 10 years, Tampa’s population has increased by almost 20%. The cost-of-living is 5.6% below the national average, and compared to the other big cities in Florida, Orlando and Miami, it’s notably more affordable. 

Tampa summers are a balmy 83 degrees and winters average 62 degrees. The area attracts retirees and young professionals alike. With steady job growth and a relatively low unemployment rate, the population is expected to continue to its growth. 

Because a good portion of Tampa’s economy is reliant on tourism, that sector has taken a big hit during the pandemic. However, nearby MacDill Air Force Base employs some 15,000 military workers, and contributes to Tampa’s diverse and stable economy. Amazon is also set to open a new extension to their fulfillment center in Tampa this year, which will add another 750 jobs to the area.

Tampa is similar to the Dallas/Fort Worth real estate market because it has a large population of renters (54%). Another Super Sun Belt Magnet city, Tampa continues to have solid economic growth, which is fueling a rapidly rising population.

All of these factors indicate that the Tampa real estate market offers appreciation and cash flow opportunities for investors.

More Tampa/St. Petersburg Housing Market Rankings for 2021:

  • #5 for Homebuilding Prospects
  • #22 for Real Estate Investor Demand
  • #10 for Development and Redevelopment Opportunities
  • #28 for Availability of Debt and Equity Capital

Outlook for Tampa/St. Petersburg Multifamily Market 2021:

  • 67% of experts recommend buying a multifamily property
  • 30% of experts recommend holding onto your multifamily property
  • 2% recommend selling

Other Interesting Real Estate Market Rankings for 2021

  • Cleveland and Indianapolis made Forbes list of Top Housing Markets to Watch in 2021.
  • Tampa made Homelight’s 9 Real Estate Markets Worth Watching in 2021…
  • Orlando, Charlotte, and Fort Worth made MoneyCrashers 15 Best Cities to Buy a Rental Property Investment in 2021.

Why RealWealth® Investment Counselors Recommend These Markets

Our RealWealth® investment counselors recommend these three markets for a number of reasons. 

For example, Charlotte is a solid growth market and has the highest gross rents out of any market our members invest in. Although the price point may be higher for new construction homes as opposed to rehabbed homes, investors should make that money back and then some. New construction rental property comes with little or no maintenance costs, attracts high quality tenants and can usually collect more in rent. 

To learn more about investing in Charlotte real estate in 2021, check out our recent article.

Are You Ready to Invest in Dallas, Charlotte or Tampa?

At RealWealth®, we connect investors with property teams in metro areas across the country. Currently the teams we work with offer one, two or all of the following rental investments:

(1) Single Family

(2) New Construction

(3) Multifamily

If you’d like to view Sample Property Pro Formas, connect with one of the teams we work with, or speak with one of our Investment Counselors about these markets or others, become a member of RealWealth for free. Click here to get started.

Also, when you connect with one of the property teams we work with and/or with one of our Investment Counselors, make sure to ask about investments that meet our REAL Income Property™ Standards.

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