Crexi Trends: Hidden Gem Markets to Watch in 2021

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In 2020, more investors and tenants harnessed CRE technology to search for  commercial property investments far beyond their local markets. For example, a California-based company can easily browse for a new company headquarters in Atlanta, connect with an in-market broker, and complete the deal entirely online.

As CRE tech makes these investment pathways more accessible, we’ve observed increasing interest in smaller, hyper-local markets. These “hidden gem” markets, while not historically among the US’ top performers, have seen a groundswell of investor interest in the last few quarters.

In this article, we explore the MSAs that received the highest jump in buyer search activity and interest on our platform with an eye towards future market opportunities.

Diagram of the MSAs with the highest growth rate in Q3 on Crexi's platform.

Providence-Warwick, Rhode Island

As of this last quarter, the Providence-Warwick, Rhode Island MSA experienced continued growth in buyer interest on Crexi, stretching back to pre-pandemic times. Providence has seen more than a 100% increase in buyer activity every quarter since Q3 2019, with Q3 2020 levels hitting nearly tripling quarter-over-quarter growth.

As a smaller city with proximity to larger markets, Providence has observed a boom in multifamily assets even amid COVID-19. According to a report by Hayes & Sherry Real Estate Services, the region’s suburban neighborhoods have led the majority of this demand. Developers delivered approximately 4500 units in the last four years, and vacancies have continued to drop as the market receives overflow from Boston and other nearby metros. 


Minneapolis was another top MSA that experienced nearly a tripling of buyer interest in Q3 2020 compared to the previous quarter. While the market did see a small blip in the spring and early summer, Minneapolis leaped to the top of actively-seeking buyers’ search areas with a 190% increase this quarter.

Industrial was one of Minneapolis’ most active property types this year, per Cushman and Wakefield, with approximately 19.5 million square feet of inventory on the market as of Q3 2020. Vacancy rates remained low over the last several quarters, most recently hitting 1.6% and hitting an average asking rent of $7.00 per square foot.

Seattle & Portland 

The Pacific Northwest metros are also attracting a hefty dose of buyer interest on Crexi. We observed Seattle and Portland’s buyer searches and activity grow by 189% and 188%, respectively, in Q3 2020. In September in particular, Portland experienced

Seattle spent the last decade consistently ranked in PWC’s annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate report as one of the top 10 cities to invest in commercial real estate. In particular, Portland has proven its resilience in the face of yearly wildfires and civil unrest on top of COVID-19 as home values in the city’s suburbs rose 6.6% in Q3 year-over-year.

Both Seattle and Portland were listed in the 2021’s edition of PWC’s report as boomtowns likely to recover fast from the pandemic with a savvy, young workforce and a diverse job market. 


Detroit was another secondary MSA that experienced an exponential Q3 surge in buyer interest on Crexi. Detroit’s buyer activity jumped by 174% this previous quarter, following a noticeable decrease in activity in the second quarter of 2020. 

Detroit’s industrial market was by far one of its most active. At approximately 62.1 million square feet of positive absorption in Q3 alone, the total absorption year-to-date was just shy of Q3 2019 amounts, indicating promising performance amid COVID-19 with opportunities ahead. Per Cushman & Wakefield, another 340.9 million square feet are currently under construction in the MSA, ready to meet investor demand as a rising need for warehouses and distribution strive to accommodate e-commerce’s rocketship-like growth. 


While a few other MSA beat out Denver for the Top 5 markets with the most significant buyer interest rise in Q3, Denver stood out for different reasons. Over the last six consecutive quarters, Denver was one of the only cities on Crexi to double its buyer interest quarter-over-quarter without significant drops. Denver was also one of the only markets to withstand Q2 2020’s overall pause in commercial real estate activity regarding buyer actions on the platform, and one of our top picks for 2021’s industrial markets to watch.

Looking ahead to 2021, investors will likely continue to show interest in secondary and tertiary CRE markets, seeking other hidden gem markets that prove resilient in the face of COVID-related lockdowns and turbulence. 

What other hidden gem markets are you interested in? Search available properties on Crexi.

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Cam Tucker
Cam Tucker
Cam Tucker is a Senior Analyst at Crexi with 7+ years in data and analytics.

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