With people relegated to their homes during the pandemic, buyers searched for homes with more space and less population density causing for an exodus of people to move to outlying counties of metro areas. This trend is still going strong today, as these areas show stronger housing conditions than central counties.
According to an article by Scholastica (Gay) Cororaton for the National Association of Realtors, “The desire to live in less dense areas given the uncertainty of the course of the coronavirus pandemic as new variants emerge, the ability of people to work from home and reduce travel time and costs, and the demographic boost to housing in the suburban areas as millennials continue to form households and raise families are all factors that play into the decision of where people will be living and buying a home.”
Previous to the pandemic, housing prices in these outlying counties was lower than central counties. For example, according to Realtor.com data collected by Cororaton, the median listing price for a home in an outlying county was $259,950 whereas the median price for a central county was $264,500. However, in June 2021, the median price for a home in an outlying county rose by almost $44,000 to $303,700. While central counties also experienced exponential growth, growing $36,900 to $301,400, the percentage growth for outlying counties was 12.0% year-over-year whereas central counties only grew 7.8%, according to that same article by Cororaton.
While there are many reasons beyond buyer’s desire for outlying county housing, like rising building material costs, competition for lots and an unbalanced housing supply to demand ratio, the percentage change is a strong indicator for buyer preference.