The population of North Carolina has been growing steadily. From 2000 to 2006 the state saw an increase in population of 10%, above the national average. The increase can be attributed to the rapidly increasing urbanization of this once mainly rural state. Its major cities such as Raleigh and Charlotte have become attractive places for big business to settle, particularly financial businesses.

There is a lot of good news in North Carolina, much of it coming from the area known as "the Triangle." This region of North Carolina, officially known as Research Triangle Park, is located in Durham and Wake counties. Anchored by North Carolina's universities like Duke and the UNC system, information and biotechnology industries set up shop in the 1950s and have been growing ever since. All sectors of the commercial real estate market are doing well within the triangle, and there is a high demand for mixed use property such as office and light industrial property.


The companies that make their home in the Triangle employ educated, affluent people. As these companies continue to move into the Triangle, housing development has increased and real estate developers are building upscale neighborhoods. In addition to increased upscale housing development, the need for upscale commercial retail has increased. Undeveloped land is still available relatively cheaply for these purposes, though that market may close up in the near future, leaving investors to speculate on existing property. There is high demand for commercial development such as groceries and restaurants and services such as salons, dry cleaners and childcare.

Agricultural real estate makes up about 30% of the state's land. The biggest crop in North Carolina is tobacco, which is subsidized by the government and continues to be big, profitable business. One up and coming crop that the state is beginning to produce is grapes, used in both juice and wine. Many smaller farms that formerly produced tobacco have switched to grapes and small wineries are popping up throughout the state.

In some of the rural areas, the small former factory towns are suffering. These areas are experiencing two different trends, both of which can be good for an investor. On the one hand, the old textile mills are being replaced auto assembly plants and parts manufacturers. Not only are towns with auto industry jobs surviving, but they are growing and thriving. There is demand for new retail and housing in these areas, and the land on which to develop is plentiful and inexpensive. The only danger with these single-employer towns is that they can disappear in a decade if the industry turns bad. For shorter term investors, though, this shouldn't be a problem. The other trend for small, rural towns is for them to try to repackage themselves as weekend getaway or second home destinations. Towns trying to do this don't have a need for new development as much as they are looking for redevelopment. Both types of market are ripe right now.