Urban Land Institute has ranked Charlotte, NC as the third most attractive market for a real estate investment in 2016. However, is this phenomenon exciting or frightening? Nobody can predict the next recession or when a major terrorist attack will turn the real estate market into chaos. But next year, the forecast for the real estate industry is quite rosy in spite of challenges like deals and lands getting harder to find, rising construction costs and lenders carefully scrutinizing potential deals.
The real estate boom in Charlotte will spread beyond apartments because office towers are under construction in uptown, midtown, South Park and Ballantine. Construction is driven by the money coming from out-of-town investors and the need for more space. There was a time in the past when all big investors can be found in New York, San Francisco, Washington and Boston but now they are turning to secondary markets that include Charlotte. During the second quarter, overall office vacancy in Charlotte was 13.5%, down from 14.5% of the same quarter last year. Class A office space is even tighter with vacancies at 12.5%.
Ecommerce has changed consumer shopping habits and it is also driving the market for additional warehouses and distribution centers. As more and more people shop online, businesses have to find ways to ship the orders. Ecommerce giant Amazon has recently opened the Concorde distribution center while Charlotte-based developer Crescent Communities has broken ground with a new industrial building at Interstate 85.
Buildings are taking a long time to be completed because of rising market costs, scarce land and shortage of skilled workers. As demand continues to rise, construction materials cost more and with so many developers needing workers, qualified labor has become harder to find. Most of the great sites are already being developed and attractive opportunities are being funded with tens of millions of dollars.
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