The Growing Popularity of Secondary and Tertiary Markets

|BY levercp

by: Michael Wyant

In the past few years, the number of residents opting to live in secondary and tertiary markets has increased significantly. This migration to once less attractive markets has been driven by affordability, the opportunity for growth, and increased residential mobility. So, it’s not surprising to see that these smaller markets are on track to outgrow many major US cities. The increased level of competition and the exorbitantly high cost of entry in primary markets, along with the declining demand for CBD office space due to the Work From Home phenomenon, has driven investors to seek opportunities for profit elsewhere. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the up-and-coming secondary and tertiary markets to look out for in 2023 and the availability of capital for different property types in those markets. 

Secondary markets, like Denver, Austin, and Portland, have seen significant population growth and job market expansion creating a need for more housing and amenities. Because these markets have less economic activity and exposure as primary markets, they aren’t nearly as saturated providing ample opportunity for investors. Tertiary markets, such as Charleston, Richmond, and Colorado Springs are not drastically different from secondary markets although they are usually more spread out and have smaller populations.(1)

There is huge investment potential in these growing markets for reasons such as less competition, lower barriers to entry, stronger growth potential, and a potential for higher returns. Over the next decade, members of the workforce and large companies will continue to move into these markets, creating an opportunity for investors to capitalize on more attractive acquisition economics. By entering these markets in the early growth stages, sponsors will be able to take advantage and in turn, see outsized returns on their investments.

Lenders used to be weary of these markets because of the inherent risk of investing in a smaller market with less demand and therefore reduced opportunity to push rents. Debt was more expensive for investors, and they also faced lower available leverage because banks needed to hedge for the riskier investment. Lenders are now keying in on these markets because of the larger demographic trends at play. People are choosing to live and work in less expensive cities as larger companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Coca-Cola move in.(2)

The lower level of competition is based on the fact that real estate private equity firms and big REITs generally focus on primary markets and sometimes secondary, creating fierce competition among themselves. This is driving up pricing and reducing cap rates. On the flip side, secondary and tertiary markets tend to be less popular among big investors and more accessible to all investors, lowering the level of competition and barrier to entry.

We’re seeing a greater focus on specific markets from both the debt and equity providers and therefore make sure we capture as much data as possible as these parameters change. Because of our hyper attention to detail, we’ll only approach the capital providers we know are interested in your target markets.