Where Did Homebuyers Who Moved During Pandemic Go?

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We’ve seen evidence of homeowners moving to new states or metropolitan areas during the height of the global coronavirus pandemic, but a survey published Thursday by Knock, a resource for homebuyers and sellers, showed that about six of every 10 pandemic homebuyers opted for a new, often less populated city in the same state.

According to some 2,000 homeowners who responded, the pandemic encouraged younger generations to move, a trend that will continue in the coming year, Knock reported. Among those who moved during the pandemic, 58% were either millennials or Gen Z. Rather than moving across the country, many are choosing less-populated suburban and rural areas in their existing state, the study revealed.

“Almost overnight, our homes took on a whole new meaning. In addition to where we live, they became where we work, go to school, workout, and everything in between. It prompted us to re-evaluate what we want and need our home to be,” Knock Co-Founder & CEO Sean Black said. “Although the pandemic may have ignited this trend, it’s not likely to subside anytime soon. People are placing a higher value on where they live, and for many, it means putting where they live ahead of being close to the office, especially now that so many have the ability to work remotely, at least part of the time. It also could mean we will see people moving more often, especially as technology helps to simplify the process of buying and selling homes.”

Knock.com’s Alexandria Quintana blogged about the survey and summarized the key takeaways:

  • A preference for larger homes
  • The desire to relocate out of urban areas
  • A new prioritization of where people live over their job

To determine whether price appreciation would have accelerated for larger homes more rapidly than smaller homes in the past year, Knock’s research team looked at the pace of appreciation for price per square foot over the last four years, segmented by home size— they focused on two “large, stable markets”: Atlanta and Dallas, and found:

Atlanta last year saw similar increases in price appreciation across home sizes, yet, a convergence on that price appreciation in 2021, as price appreciation of larger homes has continued to accelerate near levels of smaller homes. Quintana says it’s also worth noting, “the 2020 year-over-year percent change of homes sold above list price show those 4,000 square feet and up increased nearly 78% from 2019, compared to only 24% for homes 1,000-2,000 square feet.”

In Dallas, the preferential shift for larger homes in 2021 was more remarkable. Homes over 4,000 square feet experienced the largest increase year over year. Similar to Atlanta, the 2020 y-o-y percentage of homes sold above list price that are less than 4,000 square feet increased 73% versus 28% for homes 1,000-2,000 square feet.

Knock additionally looked into the effect of the apparent demand for larger homes on home building, turning to the National Home Builders Association for data and finding that NAHB reported a similar trend for single-family home size among new construction across all regions of the United States, in an article released this year.

Knock conducted a remarkably comprehensive dive into their own and outside data to come up with this list of the top-10 destinations for relocating homeowners. The entire methodology and findings are available at blog.knock.com.

Top 10:

  1. Camden, NJ
  2. Ogden, UT
  3. New Brunswick, NJ
  4. Virginia Beach, VA
  5. Boise City, ID
  6. Provo, UT
  7. Riverside, CA
  8. Sacramento, CA
  9. Tulsa, OK
  10. Elgin, IL

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