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Buyer interest in suburban over city living grows in May, report finds

A sign hangs outside a home in Bexley, Ohio, on June 30. Real estate analysts report signs of an increase among buyer interest in single-family homes and suburban properties. (Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/AP)

Some real estate analysts are seeing indicators that during the coronavirus pandemic, buyers are more attracted to suburban locations with private outdoor space and to single-family homes.

In May, found multiple metrics on its website of year-over-year percentage change had the greatest disparity between listings in suburban and urban Zip codes since it began tracking the metrics in 2016. The gap was the widest in several years in its site’s views per property and the number of days a property was on the market. Year over year, its site’s views per property for homes in suburban Zip codes increased by 13 percent, while those for urban homes rose 7 percent. All listings have been sitting on the market longer, with suburban properties staying 30 percent longer year-over-year, compared to urban ones at 35 percent.

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The site’s “hotness” rankings, based on tightening supply and rising demand, likewise saw suburban listings make a record median gain in the rankings since 2016. The top of the list was Columbia, S.C., which had a 42 percent year-over-year increase in views per property in its suburban listings. In its rankings, 7 out of the 10 markets with the largest gain were in the South.

“I am seeing more and more people moving to the suburbs as they are looking for two things: Ideally, they want more green spaces between them and their neighbors, and more house to be able to work from home,” Elizabeth Lucchesi, a real estate agent with Long & Foster in Alexandria, Va., wrote in an email. She added: “Many of my clients now have teenagers in the house and young adults from college back home. The suburbs offers both larger footprints and yards.”

Redfin real estate brokerage’s analysts identified an increasing interest in single-family homes rather than condos and townhouses. Redfin found that its site’s saved searches filtered for single-family homes was the largest share since March 2016. Redfin’s analysts attribute the interest in single-family homes to the anticipation that more people will continue to work from home and will need extra space for a home office. In addition, the elimination of a daily commute makes living farther from downtown in a single-family home more palatable.

“People simply don’t want to share common elements or press elevator buttons in a pandemic,” said Orla O’Callaghan, a real estate agent with Re/Max Realty Centre in Olney, Md. “More companies are moving to a remote workforce, so the commuting issue is less important. … Things like a front porch and nice backyard are critical again. Communities with amenities are at the top of the list and so are large lot properties with some acreage and room to roam.”

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