2020 In Review and A Look Toward 2021

February 4th, 2021

Our industry leaders weigh in to share activity and trends for commercial real estate, from the market data we gathered and experienced in 2020 to trends they see being accelerated for 2021. How did the pandemic affect land sales? Where are investors choosing to invest? What type of companies are thriving in this economy?


“There is no doubt 2020 was tough on the office market. Both landlords and tenants were forced to navigate new pressures. However, we found that by listening carefully to the tenants who were out there, matching up their specific needs thoughtfully and with a sense of urgency, and adding a measurable dose of creativity to address their unique concerns, we were successful in bringing landlords and tenants together in a productive and beneficial manner for everyone.
We are optimistic that the Triangle, as a top-rated market from living to working, will become an epicenter of activity in the country. We have seen this affirmed by life science companies interested in the Triangle during the pandemic and expect continued growth as people desire to return to the office.”

Robin Roseberry Anders

Robin Roseberry Anders, SIOR
Executive Vice President


“The industrial market took a slight pause in March and April. Otherwise, 2020 has been the most active 12-month period in over 15 years. The natural growth of E-Commerce was pushed into hyperdrive due to the virus increasing the consumer demand for home delivery. In addition, life science and gene therapy companies leased several new speculative warehouses within the RTP/RDU submarket.”
Ed Brown
Ed Brown, SIOR, CCIM
Executive Vice President


“Across the United States many retail stores closed in 2020 and vacancy rose. On the positive side, retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walgreen’s have seen positive sales numbers and continue to grow. In the supermarket sector, Kroger, Food Lion, and Publix have had record numbers and, along with Aldi and Lidl, are expanding in the Triangle. The biggest takeaway from 2020 is the seismic shift to ecommerce; consumers have fully embraced online shopping and retailers have responded with the speedy rollout of new technologies, new apps and new ways of meeting shopper needs.
Another trend to keep an eye on is the repositioning of traditional malls. For years, the industry has been talking about this, and in 2020 the talk became a reality. Locally, redevelopment plans for Cary Towne Center and Northgate Mall have recently been announced.”

Joaquin Canals
Senior Vice President


“Triangle land sales during 2020 were exceptionally bullish. Although inquiries on retail and office land slowed due to the pandemic, the surge in demand for land suited for residential and industrial uses more than made up for it; literally increasing by the month as the year went on.
This demand appears to show no signs of slowing as we turn the page on a new year. Sites with physical or jurisdictional challenges passed over by developers 12 months ago are now subjects of competition as the availability of options narrow. Multifamily and industrial land needs will continue to drive urban and suburban sales while single family demand will see towns like Wendell, Holly Springs and Clayton continue to expand. 2021 will be a test of local municipalities’ ability to expand infrastructure to keep pace with development demand and to be flexible as land use plans get turned upside down with the new work from home model driving “last mile” warehousing needs and different housing needs.”

Rob Griffin
Associate Director of Development & Land


“The Investment and Capital markets remained strong during 2020. Institutional and private investors continue to be drawn to the Triangle region due to product quality, lifestyle, educational opportunities, lower cost of living and continued job growth. Life sciences and the warehouse sector lead the way. E-Commerce fueled the warehouse sector as life sciences has been driven by the universities and an existing talent base. We have been successful with property trades in all property types with hospitality and retail being the least desired. Interest rates at all-time lows are also driving transactions, although equity requirements are often higher.”
Jimmy Barnes
Jimmy Barnes, SIOR
Executive Vice President

Tri Properties | NAI Carolantic has been a trusted advisor in the Triangle for a combined 75 years. We are locally owned with a global reach and as the Triangle’s only full-service team, when it comes to commercial real estate, we do it all. For more information, please contact our team.

COVID Transaction Activity for Tri Properties | NAI Carolantic