Why Investors Have Their Eyes on Winston-Salem's Real Estate Market

If the performance of the rental real estate market in Winston-Salem is anything like 2019, 2020 could be great for investors. 

The Triad of Winston-Salem and Greensboro was the 4th-best market for rent increases, according to the Triad Business Journal. The region’s dynamic economy, growing population and job market, and strong demand from tenants are just a few of the factors driving the rental property market in Winston-Salem.

Winston-Salem is located in Forsyth County in the north-central part of North Carolina. The metro area lies along the Carolina Core in the heart of North Carolina, running between Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point, and Fayetteville. 

Industry sectors include agriculture and textiles, manufacturing, nanotech and biotech, and numerous corporate headquarters. Cost of living is well below the national average, and median home values in Winston-Salem are some of the most affordable in this part of the country.

Keep reading to learn what makes Winston-Salem an investment worth considering in 2020.

>>Explore Roofstock's Winston-Salem investment properties here.


Population Growth

Although the rate of population growth in the city is 5th in the state, the number of new residents moving to Winston-Salem is very impressive. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, about 16,700 new people moved to the area over the last eight years.

Key Population Stats:

  • City of Winston-Salem is home to about 250,000 residents with more than 675,000 people living in the metropolitan area.
  • The Triad of Winston-Salem/Greensboro is home to more than 540,000 residents and the 2nd-largest urban area in North Carolina, just behind Charlotte.
  • Population growth in Winston-Salem was 7.3% over the last eight years, with more than 1,100 new residents moving to the city last year alone.
  • Between now and 2038 the population of Forsyth County (where Winston-Salem is located) is expected to grow at an annualized rate of just under 1%.
  • Median age in Winston-Salem is 35 years vs. North Carolina median age of 38.



Job Market

Winston-Salem is projected to be in a four-way tie for the 6th-best city for net job creation this year, according to Spectrum News. That puts the city ahead of both nearby Greensboro and the much larger city of Charlotte.

Key Employment Stats:

  • GDP of Winston-Salem MSA is nearly $34 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and has grown by more than 20% since 2010.
  • Job growth in Winston-Salem was 1.3% last year.
  • Unemployment rate in the Winston-Salem MSA is 3.2% and has been steadily declining over the past 10 years.
  • Target industry sectors in Winston-Salem include advanced manufacturing, logistics and distribution, healthcare and life sciences, financial services, and data centers.
  • Innovation Quarter is a mixed-use district in Downtown Winston-Salem focused on education, information technology and biomedical research, and residential living.
  • Largest employment sectors in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County include education and health services, manufacturing, professional and business services, retail trade, construction, and transportation and distribution.
  • Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Novant Health, Winston Salem/Forsyth County Schools, BB&T/Truist, and Wells Fargo are the top five major employers in Forsyth County.
  • Major colleges and universities in Winston-Salem include Forsyth Tech, Piedmont International University, Salem College, Wake Forest University, and Winston-Salem State University.
  • 87.7% of the Winston-Salem residents have a high school degree or higher, while 34.2% hold a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree.
  • The Winston-Salem metro area has access to several interstate highways including I-40, I-81, and I-95 and is equidistant from Washington D.C. and Atlanta.
  • Three freight railways serve the Winston-Salem Region and FedEx Ground recently opened a 400,000 square foot facility in nearby Kernersville.
  • Deep water shipping ports in Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina, are a three to four hour drive from Winston-Salem.
  • Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO) provides non-stop service to major cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, New York, and Washington D.C.
  • Passenger enplanements increased by nearly 7% year-over-year while cargo volume grew by almost 13%.


Real Estate Market

Earlier this year, The Washington Post quoted NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun as noting that “Southern cities should once again do better than most other markets” in new and existing home sales. In fact, Realtor.com predicts that Winston-Salem will be one of the top real estate markets in 2020.

Key Market Stats:

  • The median listing price of a house in Winston-Salem is $198,995 while the median selling price is $158,900 according to Zillow (as of January 2020).
  • Square foot listing price in Winston-Salem is $114 vs. $120 per square foot in the Winston-Salem metropolitan area.
  • Home values in Winston-Salem increased by 7.8% last year and by more than 31% since May 2013 based on the Zillow Home Value Index.
  • Average days on market is 56.
  • During the listing period 11.6% of the houses for sale in Winston-Salem have a reduction to the listing price.
  • 9.7% of the homes in Winston-Salem have a negative equity vs. 8.2% nationally.
  • 0.9% of the homes in Winston-Salem have a delinquent mortgage vs. 1.1% U.S. average.
  • Ardmore is the neighborhood in Winston-Salem with the highest home value.
  • Neighborhoods in Winston-Salem with the lowest home value are Washington Park and South Park.


Attractive Renters’ Market

The Triad Area of Winston-Salem/Greensboro is one of the best real estate markets in the U.S. for rent price increases, according to a recent report from the Triad Business Journal. In fact, last year the rental market was the 4th-highest in the nation for average rent increases among the large metro areas in the U.S.

Key Market Stats:

  • Median rent in Winston-Salem is $1,216 per month, the same as in the Winston-Salem metropolitan area.
  • Rents in Winston-Salem increased by an average of 7% over the past year, according to RENTCafé.
  • 45% of the housing units in Winston-Salem rent for between $701 and 1,000 per month, while 26% rent for more than $1,001 per month.
  • 36% of the households in Winston-Salem are renter-occupied.
  • Neighborhoods in Winston-Salem with the lowest rents include Bowen Park, Cardinal Acres, and Castle Heights where rents average $640 per month.
  • Neighborhoods in Winston-Salem with the highest rents include Old Salem, Reynoldstown, and South Marshall where rents run $1,277 per month.

Historic Price Changes & Housing Affordability

Understanding the historical trend of home price changes in a market helps real estate investors to more accurately forecast potential appreciation. Housing affordability compares median incomes to median housing prices and is one way of predicting the possible demand for rental property.

Each quarter the FHA releases up-to-date data on the change in home prices for all markets across the U.S. The most recent FHA 2019 Q3 House Price Index report for the Winston-Salem MSA shows:

  • Since Q1 1991 homes prices have increased by 105.45% 
  • Over the past five years home prices have increased in Winston-Salem by 26.84%
  • Over the past year prices have increased by 4.44%
  • Over the last quarter home prices in Winston-Salem have increased by 0.49%

The HAI (housing affordability index) is used by investors to identify markets that may be good for rental property. The Index compares median family income to median single-family resale home prices in a market to determine how affordable it is to buy a home. 

However, the HAI doesn’t take into account lifestyle preferences of people preferring to rent or the general availability of housing. So, even though a market may have an affordable index, that doesn’t necessarily mean that more people will buy than rent.

The Housing Affordability Index from the National Association of Realtors uses 100 as a baseline affordability index number. The greater a market’s HAI is above 100, the more affordable a market is, everything else being equal.

Based on the NAR’s latest report, the HAI for the Winston-Salem MSA was 195.0 in 2018, the most recent year available. This means that the median family has a little less than twice the income needed to purchase a median priced, single-family resale home in the Winston-Salem metro area.



Quality of Life

Winston-Salem has managed to steadily grow over the years while still maintaining its Southern charm and friendliness. The city is located between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, and is the perfect place for entrepreneurs, professionals, seniors, and retirees.

Key Quality of Life Stats:

  • Forbes ranks Winston-Salem as one of the best places for business and careers, job growth, and a low cost of doing business.
  • Niche.com gives Winston-Salem excellent and above-average ratings for public schools, housing, family living, nightlife, and diversity.
  • Winston-Salem is one of the top 10 retirement locations in the U.S.
  • Cost of living in the Winston-Salem metro area is 9% below the national average.
  • Climate is humid subtropical with hot humid summers and cool to moderately cold winters.
  • U.S. News & World Report rates Winston-Salem as the 31st-best place to live in the U.S. with high scores for desirability, value, job market, and overall quality of life.
  • The Triad is home to over 45 wineries in the Yadkin Valley, hundreds of dining establishments, art galleries and museums, and over 12 golf courses.
  • The Diggs Gallery on the campus of Winston-Salem State University is billed as the cultural center of the city.
  • Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is ranked as one of the top five hospitals in North Carolina.
  • Sports fans will love watching the Winston-Salem State University Rams and Wake Forest play their home games in the Triad.


Get Out the Map

Where to begin your search? Roofstock created a heat map of Winston-Salem based on our Neighborhood Rating, a dynamic algorithm that enables you to make informed investment decisions by measuring school district quality, home values, employment rates, income levels and other vital investment criteria.


DARK GREEN: 4-5 star neighborhood
LIGHT GREEN: 3.5-4 star neighborhood
YELLOW: 2.5-3 star neighborhood
ORANGE: 2 star neighborhood
RED: 1 star neighborhood

Ready to invest in the Winston-Salem housing market? If you haven't already done so, create your free Roofstock account and set up alerts. We'll notify you when we have a Winston-Salem investment property that matches your search criteria.



Click me
Jeff Rohde


Jeff Rohde

Jeff has over 25 years of experience in all segments of the real estate industry including investing, brokerage, residential, commercial, and property management. While his real estate business runs on autopilot, he writes articles to help other investors grow and manage their real estate portfolios.

Join 100,000+ Fellow Investors.

Subscribe to get our top real estate investing content.

Subscribe Here!