Key Highlights

  • New report from Urban Land Institute and PwC US highlights evolving trends shaping real estate industry in 2021
  • Report examines COVID-inspired desirability of lower density areas with interest concentrated in Sunbelt markets
  • Cost-conscious individuals, families and businesses gravitating toward cities that are low cost and business friendly

The Urban Land Institute and PwC US just released their latest report, Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2021, that spotlights developing and evolving trends that are shaping the real estate industry in 2021. This report includes proprietary data and insights from over 1,600 industry experts and how the COVID pandemic both spawned new trends and derailed other trends off their tracks.

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Certainly the pandemic has enhanced the desirability of lower density, more affordable areas for both residential and commercial real estate while simultaneously dethroning large urban metros of their reigning status. Interest from many cost-conscious individuals, families and businesses is being directed towards cities that are affordable, family and business friendly and have growing workforces.

Raleigh/Durham NC is one such area getting such attention. With its skyrocketing tech jobs and reputation as an education mecca, Raleigh/Durham has been nicknamed the Bay Area of the East Coast. Additionally 18-hour cities (cities with downtowns that draw engagement well beyond the 9 to 5 working day) are dominating best-of real estate lists…cities such as Nashville, Austin, Charlotte NC and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

This Urban Land Institute and PwC US report is forecasting that homebuyers are and will be drawn to suburban locations with low-moderate taxes, affordable housing, auto-centered transportation and good job prospects.

Anita Kramer, senior vice president of the Urban Land Institute’s Center for Capital Markets and Real Estate, said that the COVID pandemic fast-tracked the already established trend called “The Great American Move.” People were already moving from urban centers to suburbs, said Kramer, and that move “…has been accelerated by people’s experiences of working from home and schooling from home and wanting more space.”

This report points to major concerns in large metro areas such as:

  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Large revenue declines for state and local governments that will impact, delay or flat-out cancel infrastructure projects
  • Smaller physical retail presence
  • Vast amounts of vacant space that may be repurposed as distribution centers for online retailers and/or housing
  • Looming and/or increased income and racial inequities

Ed Walker, global CEO of the Urban Land Institute, said, “Times of great change always present significant opportunities. In the near term, our suburbs will benefit from new growth spurred by shifting demographics and changes to living and working patterns resulting from the COVID crisis. Our cities will have the opportunity to respond by reimagining their public realm, building more resiliently, and reinventing assets, such as retail, that were already struggling before the pandemic. As an industry we have the opportunity to strengthen by truly embracing diversity and tackling the challenges faced by our communities.”


Thanks to, the Urban Land Institute and PwC US.


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