The Top Secondary MSAs for CRE Investment

Identifying the top secondary Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) for commercial real estate (CRE) investment involves analyzing various factors such as economic growth, population trends, job creation, and real estate market fundamentals. While primary MSAs like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago typically attract significant investment, secondary MSAs offer opportunities for investors seeking attractive returns and less competitive markets. Here are some potential top secondary MSAs for CRE investment based on recent trends and market dynamics:

1. Austin, Texas

Key Factors:

  • Tech Hub: Austin’s vibrant tech sector, fueled by companies like Dell, IBM, and a growing startup ecosystem, drives demand for office and industrial space.
  • Population Growth: Rapid population growth, fueled by in-migration from other states and a strong job market, supports robust demand for multifamily and retail properties.
  • Quality of Life: Austin’s cultural attractions, outdoor amenities, and favorable business climate contribute to its appeal for residents and businesses alike.

2. Nashville, Tennessee

Key Factors:

  • Music and Entertainment: Nashville’s reputation as a music and entertainment hub attracts tourists, residents, and businesses, driving demand for hospitality, retail, and mixed-use properties.
  • Healthcare Sector: With a strong healthcare industry anchored by companies like HCA Healthcare and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville offers opportunities in medical office and life sciences real estate.
  • Population Growth: Steady population growth and a diversified economy contribute to demand for office, multifamily, and industrial properties.

3. Charlotte, North Carolina

Key Factors:

  • Financial Services: Charlotte is a major financial services hub, home to Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and other financial institutions, driving demand for office and commercial real estate.
  • Business Friendly: Charlotte’s pro-business environment, low cost of living, and quality of life amenities attract corporate relocations and spur job creation.
  • Infrastructure Investment: Infrastructure projects like the Charlotte Gateway Station and expansion of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport support economic growth and real estate development.

4. Denver, Colorado

Key Factors:

  • Tech and Aerospace: Denver’s growing tech sector, along with a strong aerospace industry presence, fuels demand for office and industrial space.
  • Outdoor Lifestyle: Denver’s access to outdoor recreation, along with a young and highly educated population, contributes to its appeal for residents and businesses.
  • Transit Expansion: Investments in public transit, such as the RTD FasTracks expansion, enhance connectivity and support transit-oriented development opportunities.

5. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

Key Factors:

  • Research Triangle Park: Home to leading research institutions and technology companies, Raleigh-Durham offers opportunities in office, research, and innovation-related real estate.
  • Educational Hub: The presence of top universities like Duke University and North Carolina State University fosters a skilled workforce and drives demand for multifamily and student housing.
  • Life Sciences: Raleigh-Durham’s thriving life sciences sector, anchored by companies like Biogen and GlaxoSmithKline, supports demand for lab and research space.

6. Atlanta, Georgia

Key Factors:

  • Logistics and Distribution: Atlanta’s strategic location as a transportation hub, along with a strong logistics sector, drives demand for industrial and distribution center properties.
  • Corporate Headquarters: Atlanta’s diverse economy, including corporate headquarters for companies like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and Delta Air Lines, supports demand for office and mixed-use real estate.
  • Population Growth: Steady population growth, driven by in-migration and a growing tech sector, supports demand for multifamily and residential properties.


Secondary MSAs offer compelling investment opportunities for commercial real estate investors seeking growth potential and attractive returns. Markets like Austin, Nashville, Charlotte, Denver, Raleigh-Durham, and Atlanta combine strong economic fundamentals, population growth, and diverse industry sectors to drive demand across various property types. By carefully analyzing market trends and identifying emerging opportunities, investors can capitalize on the growth potential of these dynamic secondary markets.

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