Sacramento, Calif., San Jose, Calif. and Charlotte, N.C. are forecasted to see the highest home price appreciation and sales growth in 2021

Millennial homebuyers, relative affordability, and strong local economies will drive’s Top Markets of 2021 to lead the nation in a year when real estate is expected to be strong coast to coast. This year’s list in rank order includes Sacramento, Calif., San Jose, Calif., Charlotte, N.C., Boise, Idaho, Seattle, Phoenix, Harrisburg, Pa., Oxnard, Calif., Denver, and Riverside, Calif. 

The areas on this list are expected to see the strongest home price and sales growth in the U.S. in 2021. In fact, home prices across the top 10 markets are forecasted to increase by 6.9% and sales by 13.1% year-over-year, which is significantly higher than the national projection of 5.7% price appreciation and 7.0% sales growth.

“This past year, we have all become more reliant on technology to work, learn, and maintain personal connections. The technology hubs that make this possible are thriving, as are their housing markets,” said’s Chief Economist, Danielle Hale. “Additionally, the relative stability of government jobs in the past year has driven home prices and sales in several state capitals to the top. Home buyers, particularly younger first-time buyers, looking in one of these markets should expect rising prices and heavy competition. Meanwhile, sellers will remain in a position of power, but will find themselves on the other side of the bargaining table when buying their next home.”

Tech Titans

A common driver of this year’s top markets is the prevalence of high paying tech jobs. Tech salaries in Sacramento, San Jose, Boise, Denver, and Seattle have driven home prices through the roof over the last several years and this trend is expected to continue in 2021. Additionally, areas such as Charlotte and Phoenix are quickly establishing themselves as rising tech hubs with a plethora of jobs in technology, as well as education, government and healthcare. In fact, the projected unemployment rate for 2021’s top markets is 7.9% compared to the national average of 8.2%. Tech-related jobs make up an average of 8.7% of the workforce in this year’s top markets list compared to 6.4% of the U.S.

Relative Affordability  

Home prices in eight of the top 10 markets are more expensive than the average of the top 100 markets. But many are relatively affordable when compared to their nearby counterparts or offer significantly more square footage for a similar price. For example, buyers priced out of New York ($216 per sq.ft.) can find increased space and affordability in Harrisburg ($122 per sq.ft.), while buyers in Sacramento ($284 per sq.ft.) can get more bang for their buck than nearby San Francisco ($679 per sq.ft.). This is also true when comparing Oxnard ($413 per sq.ft.) and Riverside ($247 per sq.ft.) with Los Angeles ($556 per sq.ft.). 

Millennial Magnets

On average, the top 10 markets have a larger share of millennials (14.1%) than the U.S. (13.5%). A market’s ability to lure millennials is a good indicator of the livability of the area including job opportunities, dining, and entertainment. However, when it comes to millennials purchasing homes in the top 10, two trends are emerging. In half of this year’s top markets, including: Charlotte, Boise, Phoenix, Harrisburg and Riverside, millennials are already homeowners and expected to make most of the home purchases that drive home price growth and sales. In the other group of markets, such as San Jose, Seattle, and Denver, the high cost of living has made homeownership a difficult accomplishment, not only for millennials but for all generations. The high number of millennials in the market shows how popular these markets have become, but older, more financially established generations will be the ones purchasing most of the homes next year.

State Capitals

Half of the top markets are state capitals, including Sacramento, Boise, Phoenix, Harrisburg and Denver. The strong government presence in these areas offers stability for their local economy and jobs markets. This is especially important after a year when a global pandemic has significantly disrupted local economies across the nation. On top of the government jobs, these areas also have strong job diversity in both the public and private sectors, including education, healthcare, technology, manufacturing and military, which is positioning them for solid growth in the future. The average GDP growth rate for the top markets is forecasted to be 5.34% in 2021, versus 4.85% for the top 100 metros.

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