Linneman: Warmer, Drier Markets Have Strongest Growth Potential

The U.S. population will grow by 45 million people in 2020, or about 17 million households, an uptick of roughly 15 percent from today’s population level, according to a white paper by NAI Global chief economist Peter Linneman, Ph.D. The document–“Where Will Growth Occur?”–contends, however, that as the population surges, warm-weather markets will experience the strongest potential for commercial and residential growth.“Retiring aging Boomers will want to locate where it is warm, dry and close to their grandchildren,” wrote Linneman, who also serves as principal of Linneman Associates and the Albert Sussman Professor of Real Estate, Finance and Public Policy at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. “This bodes well for the Sun Belt, particularly drier parts of the Sun Belt. Areas such as Tucson, Reno and Jacksonville are poised to become what Phoenix, Las Vegas and Orlando were over the past 25 years. Aging Echo workers will increasingly work in the service sector and select places that are attractive and exciting. Since they will defer marriages and births longer than any previous generation, they will desire urban environments in which to meet and interface. This bodes well for those areas that truly have resident cities that function for young people.” Atlanta leads markets in terms of population growth on an absolute level through 2020, with 2,653,713 more people, according to the white paper. New York City (1,973,443), Chicago (1,907,876), Phoenix-Mesa (1,739,038), Dallas (1,624,924), Houston (1,552,407), Los Angeles-Long Beach (1,454,986), Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia-West Virginia (1,389,616), Las Vegas (1,353,348) and Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. (1,250,558) round out the top 10. Charlottesville, Va., will realize the largest percentage increase through 2020, with 213 percent. Rounding out the top 10 are Santa Fe with 151 percent; Yuma, Ariz., with 147 percent; Yuba City, Calif., with 116 percent; Laredo, Texas with 110 percent; Richland-Kennewick-Pasco, Wash., with 107 percent; Las Cruces, N.M., with 103 percent; Sioux City, Iowa, with 102 percent; Merced, Calif., with 102 percent; and Yolo, Calif., with 98 percent. The report notes that 60 percent of the land needed to accommodate the population increase will go toward residential use, while the remaining land will be used for office, retail, industrial, hotel, institutional and infrastructure. “As the population begins to shift, business will shift with it, driving new construction and infrastructure across the South and West,” said Linneman. “As real household incomes increase, tomorrow’s typical consumer will be searching for new gadgets, more travel and greater access to healthcare, creating new opportunities for business; access to major air hubs with international connectivity will become increasingly relevant and high-quality medical facilities will emerge throughout the Sun Belt.” Meanwhile, consumers’ wallet size is also projected to grow. Real household incomes in 2020 are expected to jump about 50 percent to approximately $75,000 in today’s dollars, and real wealth is forecast to rise roughly 50 percent to more than $600,000 per household. “As real household incomes increase, tomorrow’s typical consumer will be searching for new gadgets, more travel and greater access to healthcare, creating new opportunities for business; access to major air hubs with international connectivity will become increasingly relevant and high-quality medical facilities will emerge throughout the Sun Belt.”