Is the Health Crisis Driving Buyers Out of Urban Areas?

Dated: July 7 2020

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The pandemic has caused consumers to re-examine the components that make up the “perfect home.” Many families are no longer comfortable with the locations and layouts of their existing homes. The allure of city life (more congested) seems to be giving way to either suburban or rural life (less congested). The fascination with an open floor plan seems to be fading as people are finding a need for more privacy while working from home.

Recently, news.com released a report that revealed how buyers’ views of listings are leaning heavily to more suburban and rural properties. Here are the year-over-year percentage increases in views per property type:

  • Urban – 7%
  • Suburban – 13%
  • Rural – 16%

In the report, Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for realtor.com, gives these numbers some context:

“This migration to the suburbs is not a new trend, but it has become more pronounced. After several months of shelter-in-place orders, the desire to have more space and the potential for more people to work remotely are likely two of the factors contributing to the popularity of the burbs.”

Realtor Magazine also just reported that the desire to move is strongest in our city markets:

“Nearly 30% of respondents living in a high-density urban area say that the pandemic is prompting them to want to move by the end of the year…This is more than double the rate of those living in rural parts of the country, where residents are much more likely to stay put rather than to relocate.”

New Construction Also Seeing a Surge in Views

Since the pandemic has altered how consumers think about floor plans, builders are anticipating how future homes will change. In a recent press release by Zillow, it was explained that:

  • Builders believe as people spend more time at home during the pandemic, buyers are realizing which features of their homes are working and not working.
  • Homebuilders predict open-concept floor plans will be a thing of the past, as people now value more walls, doors, and overall privacy.
  • New construction, which offers the chance to personalize home features, saw its listing page views grow by 73% over last May.

The Virus is Even Impacting the Luxury Second-Home Market

It appears that COVID-19 is impacting the luxury market too. In an article released last week titled, Luxury Buyers Return to Market in Force, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com reported:

“Stay at home orders and social distancing have put a new value on the extra space. We’re seeing this in the luxury market as well, which could mean there is renewed interest from high-end buyers to find a second-home that is within driving distance from their primary residence.

Much like the suburbs are gaining favor with home shoppers, second home markets are seeing increased interest from luxury buyers…Views of luxury properties accelerated 56% in The Hamptons, 28% in Palm Springs and 24% in Greenwich compared to January trends.”

Bottom Line

It appears that a percentage of people are preparing to leave many American cities. Some of these moves will be permanent, while others will be temporary (such as a getaway to a second home). In either case, many consumers are on the move. Real estate professionals are ready and willing to help in any way they can.

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