A recent survey of commercial real estate investors ranked Phoenix as a Top 10 target among Americas metros. The Sun Belt market jumped five spots to No. 4 in CBRE’s 2021 Americas Investor Intentions Survey.

The survey found that more investors are prioritizing secondary markets in 2021 (as opposed to gateway markets), particularly those with strong job and population growth prospects, which can translate into greater potential for both equity and income growth. Sun Belt markets are the most appealing: Austin is the top preferred market, followed by Dallas.

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The survey findings also reveal the sustained appeal of tech-driven markets. Austin, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle ranked among the top 10 markets for the sixth straight year.

“Solid and diverse economic fundamentals, strong labor market resilience during the pandemic coupled with a positive growth outlook going forward have made the greater Phoenix market increasingly attractive to investors,” said Phoenix-based CBRE Executive Vice President Barry Gabel. “This region has most definitely benefited from an already existing positive momentum but COVID and remote working were in many ways a shot in the arm for this market as it boosted labor migration to lower-cost areas such as Arizona.”

He added, “We had already seen some impressive growth in the greater Phoenix metro over the last couple of years in such categories as manufacturing, finance, tech, engineering, professional services, bioscience, and healthcare.”

Key Findings from the 2021 Survey:

In a clear sign that risk tolerance is growing, 30% of investors say they are targeting opportunistic and distressed assets in 2021—this is a record level and compares with 16% in 2020.

• For the first time in the seven-year history of the CBRE survey, large investors (those with assets under management of more than $50 billion) are more interested in secondary markets than primary markets.

• Pricing will be aggressive for logistics and multifamily assets in 2021, while discounts will be expected for other asset types.

• Investors are expanding the types of properties on their shopping list, with 72% of respondents actively pursuing investment in one or more real estate alternatives in 2021, up from 54% in 2020. Life science labs, medical offices and single-family rentals are the most popular targets, followed closely by data centers and cold-storage facilities.

• More than half of survey respondents have adopted environmental, social and governance criteria (ESG) as part of their investment strategy.