WILMINGTON -- The new year could be a good year for some of North Carolina's real estate markets.
A report published in a builder's magazine last week ranked several metropolitan areas in the top 100 housings markets for 2014.
"I think the word's out about Wilmington," said realtor Joyce Nunes. "More and more people are coming down. If the northern people are fortunate enough to sell their homes, they're coming down here also. The investment market has picked up, and of course, a lot of the retirees just love it here."
In the 2014 market outlook report, the Wilmington area ranked 14 out the nation's top 100 housing markets.
The Raleigh-Cary area ranked highest in the state and is tied with Denver at number 12 and Durham-Chapel Hill came in at number 21.
Economists said they're not surprised to see Wilmington near the top of the list because it was one of the hardest hit by the economic downturn.
"The greater the decline, the more any sort of increase will be reflected in a growth rate," said UNCW senior economist Woody Hall.
He said about 10 percent of the economy in southeastern North Carolina is supported by the real estate industry. They said while that doesn't sound like a lot, any improvement in the housing market makes a difference.
"Sales have got a long ways to go before they get back to where they were at the middle part of 2005," said Hall. "But there are conditions in place that are suggesting that sales will continue to increase which means that new construction will follow, and prices will be begin to rise."
Nunes said while the buyer's market will likely stick around a little longer, the competition is getting thicker.
"We're starting to see multiple offers coming in, and that's a good thing. So the homes out there are starting to dry up, so to speak," said Nunes.
Fayetteville, Winston-Salem and the Greensboro-High Point areas ranked toward the bottom of the top 100.
Economists said this is likely because they have large inventories plus the Triad was hit hard by the recession.
To see the full list of cities, click here.