NAR Region IV Local Market Assessments: Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee


Traditionally famous for its bluegrass and homegrown thoroughbreds, Kentucky may not seem an obvious choice for real estate agents seeking international opportunities. However, Kentucky has a strong manufacturing base, much of it owned by foreign corporations. When foreign executives are transferred to the U.S. to run those facilities, they will need a place to live. Also, nearly 5% of the state's labor force are immigrants. Kentucky REALTORS® looking to tap into the business opportunities associated with the state's foreign direct investment (FDI) can follow these steps to pursue this important
and growing niche market.

North Carolina

A vibrant state, North Carolina is a global player in research and development, technology, healthcare and manufacturing. It wasn't always that way. Fifty years ago the state's economy was dependent on tobacco farming, furniture manufacturing and textiles. The founding of Research Triangle Park in 1959 launched North Carolina's rebirth, drawing investments and talent from across the U.S. and later from around the world.

Today North Carolina is an international powerhouse of innovation and a magnet for global investors and foreign-born workers. Nearly 800,000 North Carolinians, or about 8% of the population, are foreign born. Latinos and Asians make up roughly two-thirds of these immigrants. In 2012, they pumped $12.9 billion into the state's economy.

Immigrants include entrepreneurs, investors and professionals looking for opportunity. Their influence is felt across the state. They buy houses, invest in commercial property, start businesses, revitalize small towns and create American jobs. They are an engine of the state's prosperity. If you're exploring ways to grow your real estate practice, consider these steps to tap into the global marketplace.

South Carolina

Coastal and temperate, South Carolina is just a two-day drive from two-thirds of the U.S. population, including all major East Coast markets, plus Detroit, Chicago and Dallas. The Port of Charleston is one of the busiest container ports along the Southeast and Gulf coasts. More than 20 shipping lines serve 150 countries using South Carolina's ports. Add to this South Carolina's extensive rail service and interstate highway system, and it's easy to see why more than 1,200 operations of international firms call South Carolina home.

Beyond its advantageous global infrastructure, The Tax Foundation ranked South Carolina #5 nationally for best corporate tax rate in 2022. This favorable business climate, combined with a strong workforce and welcoming communities, makes South Carolina ripe for global real estate business.


Land-locked, centrally-located Tennesee may not be the first state that comes to mind when considering opportunities for global real estate business. Yet, the state's business-friendly environment and low cost of living have caught the attention of a growing pool of foreign investors. The Volunteer State is home to 1,000+ foreign-based businesses that have invested nearly $41 billion in capital and employ over 156,000 Tennesseans—including highly skilled foreign workers who purchase homes.

Foreign investors choose Tennessee for its sound fiscal management and significant investment in the state's economic ecosyste —including workforce development and international business outreach. These are just a few reasons Business Facilities named Tennesee the state with the “best deals” for 2021, and CNBC ranked the state #6 overall for top states to do business in 2022. Use the information in this report to identify global business opportunities in your market area.

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Local Market Assessments

These state-level case studies can help you learn to identify and cultivate global business, a growing real estate specialty in the U.S.