Tampa Bay Area real estate: Trending upward and onward

The toll the coronavirus has taken on lives and living since its first outbreaks in March 2020 is now common knowledge.

But what isn’t so apparent is what the COVID-19 pandemic has done to speed up existing trends such as retail revenue reductions while introducing a closer look at social justice and health and wellness issues. In other areas, trends such as moving into bigger or large cities have almost stopped.
And those issues are roughly mirrored in the Tampa Bay Area and West Central Florida Suncoast and Nature Coast areas.

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) United States first released “Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2021” back in October. It focuses on evolving trends shaping the real estate industry. Now in its 42nd edition, it examines real estate investment and development trends, real estate finance and capital markets, property sectors, metropolitan areas, and other real estate issues throughout the United States and Canada.

In the latest edition of Emerging Trends, forecasts and results by industry experts with ULI and PwC were culled from proprietary data and investigations by more than 1,600 real estate industry experts. Among the report’s findings are how COVID-19 has increased the desire by people to live and work in lower-density areas and budget-conscious companies have begun moving to business-friendly, lower-cost cities with big and growing workforces, according to ULI Tampa Bay.

Nancy Surak, senior advisor and managing broker for the Land Advisors Organization Tampa Bay office, says the Emerging Trends report shows the Tampa Bay Area is the No. 6 top market for real estate prospects in the nation -- up from 11th in 2020 – behind: Raleigh/Durham and Charlotte, NC; Austin, TX; Nashville, TN; and Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.

The ULI report labels the Tampa Bay Area, as a “magnet market.” As people and companies move away from bigger cities, the work regional leaders and businesses have made for the area’s economic future are paying off as the Tampa Bay Area is now “reaping the benefits” of this planning and the capital investments made, Surak says.

From her Tampa office in Hyde Park Village, Surak says she and ULI staff are glad to see the Tampa Bay Area’s ranking continue to rise, stressing that the latest rankings were made before the onset of coronavirus-related restrictions.
The Tampa Bay region began reopening businesses and schools in May 2020.

“The trends were already there; things were already pushing us forward. I think it helped we were one of the first out of the gates,” adds Surak, awarded The Florida Gulfcoast Association of Commercial Realtors’ Tampa Bay’s Overall Commercial Real Estate Deal of the Year in 2014 and 2018. “Our local leadership did a great job showing our ability to pivot and to engage with our business side … and help them do things right and stay in business at the same time.”

The Emerging Trends survey also shows homebuilding prospects ranked Tampa Bay Region No. 5 in the nation. That ranking is fueled by the region’s driving growth of single-family, multifamily, and industrial market sectors, indicating 2021 is projected to be strong as well.
Land is in demand for all types of housing, including affordable housing options, Surak points out. She says constraints on land development are impacting the price of housing, which is in high demand.  Builders are reporting extremely low supply of new product in nearly all price ranges, so prices are increasing and affordability for housing is becoming a concern.
“The ULI is focused on affordability. We’re making sure to encourage those discussions are happening, making sure product is available,” says Surak, an advisor for Tampa Bay’s ULI Women’s Leadership Initiative. “We had such an influx of in-migration in 2020 that drove up demand pretty drastically.”
Even with lumber and land prices up and land development constraints in place, Surak says the region is doing well making sure there are places in which people can afford to live.

Surak says compared to other markets, “people want to be here.” 

Additionally, Surak says as social justice has evolved from an event to a movement and as a ULI full member, she sits on private council for mixed use development and spend time discussing social issues with the ULI, primarily pertaining to those dealing with discrimination against minorities and women.

Surak also chaired the ULI women’s leadership initiative in this region for 3 years, which focused on a variety of economic and social trends.

Overall, Surak feels in relation to the Emerging Trends report, the Tampa Bay and West Central Florida towns, cities, and municipalities are stable and growing in economic momentum and steady-but-stable population expansion.

For more information, visit ULI Tampa Bay online
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Read more articles by Paul Catala.

Paul Catala is a freelance writer whose work has been published across Florida, the U.S., and internationally. He has more than 30 years of experience working at the Charlotte Sun-Herald, the Tampa Tribune, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Provo (Utah) Daily-Herald, The (Lakeland) Ledger, and the Associated Press. He has a degree in broadcast telecommunication from the University of Florida and did post-graduate study in journalism at the University of South Carolina. Now living in Lakeland, Paul is an accomplished musician, playing keyboard and piano both solo and with bands around the Tampa Bay Area.