We all know about the allure of the “sexy six” markets—New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Seattle. But there are plenty of less sexy metros that offer tremendous upside, according to panelists at the "Beyond the Sexy Six" panel at the recent Multifamily Executive Conference.

While the sexy six markets remain the biggest cash cows, the safest bets, for the multifamily industry, there are attractive metros just trailing behind these giants in the rental boom. And according to Greg Willett, vice president of research and analysis at MPF Research, they are not all that far behind the big six.

“There is no doubt the six top metros are the biggest moneymakers in the multifamily space, but the markets on the second tier right behind them are looking very attractive as well,” says Willett. “They are just not cast in the same spotlight."

Willett named South Florida, Houston, Dallas, and Chicago as the areas that round out the top 10 markets so far in 2012. He says that while some of the markets might start to look flat, there is still plenty of private capital circling around these metros looking for opportunities.

MPF Research classifies a tertiary market as one with less than 100,000 units and Willett says that areas like Nashville and San Antonio are on the rise with institutional investors. And even though it may seem like Gen Y is mostly attracted to urban cores, we may be surprised by how many still cling to the American Dream—just a slightly different one, willet says.

“Gen Y still wants to raise a family in the suburbs like their parents did. And I think they’re happy to just have the feel of an urban lifestyle,” said Willett. “This doesn’t necessarily mean they need to live in a city to get that."

Willett said that despite talk of some secondary markets becoming overbuilt, there is still safety and room to grow. He points to markets like Denver, Charlotte and South Florida as being among those where inventory is pretty well spaced out and the opportunity to be more aggressive with rents still exists, as the piplelines are not too overbuilt.