COVID-19 ISO Insights

Data Shows Urban-Suburban Home Sales Similar to Pre-Pandemic Market

September 21, 2020

By: Christopher Sirota, CPCU

Are the populations of U.S. cities shrinking because of the pandemic? Apparently, some data says not really.

What the data says

Curbed reported that, except for the borough of Manhattan in New York City and San Francisco, some housing-market data is not reflecting a large shift to the suburbs, contrary to various reports indicating otherwise.

According to the article, compared with housing-market data from the same time period in 2019, there are no significant changes in trends related to urban and suburban home sales: pre-pandemic trends have continued. The true shift appears to reportedly be that home sales activity has increased in summer rather than in spring, when it normally would occur. Curbed explains this shift as follows:

In the late spring and summer, as people came out of lockdown, markets across the country — suburban and otherwise — began seeing spikes of pent-up demand. At the same time, the number of homes for sale has plummeted and remained down around 30 percent of what it has been in recent years — leaving the market with nearly twice the demand and two-thirds of the supply.

The article further highlights the following trends in comparison with 2019, to highlight the lack of significant change that was thought to be due to the pandemic:

  • Suburban homes are not selling faster than urban homes.
  • Suburban homes are not selling above their market price at a higher rate than urban homes.
  • The number of online searches for suburban homes is actually down by 0.2 %

May vs August: What a recent survey says

If home sales have not really changed because of the pandemic, are people thinking more about leaving cities? Like the housing-market data, one survey also says there does not appear to be a significant change either.

Yahoo Finance has reported on a survey that compares attitudes of residents in urban and suburban areas in May 2020 with early August 2020 regarding whether or not they were considering moving because of the pandemic. The survey reportedly revealed that a majority of those surveyed are leaning towards staying put and not moving because of the pandemic.

The article highlights the following surveyed attitudes:

  • In August, 74% of surveyed urbanites were likely to stay in their city, up from about 60% in May; this increase may reportedly be associated with the ending of lockdowns in those cities.
  • In August, 86% of surveyed suburbanites were likely stay in the suburbs, up from about 70% in May.
  • Regarding differences by generation, over a third of surveyed urbanites aged 44 and under were more likely to leave cities, which seems to follow a trend that was reportedly already occurring pre-pandemic. Only 10% of surveyed urbanites aged over 45 were likely to leave their city.
  • Regarding income levels, 35% of respondents earning $100,000 or more were likely to leave their city, compared with 19% of those earning $50,000 or less, and 16% of those unemployed.
  • Regarding households with children, 40% of respondents were likely to leave their city, compared with 16% of those without children.

Overall, according to these articles, no dramatic change to urban or suburban populations because of the pandemic appears to be actually occurring or is expected to occur in the near future.