Outlying Suburbs Appeal to More Home Buyers


A recent NAHB study* found that COVID-19 has impacted the housing preferences of 25% of home buyers. More specifically, the survey asked about location preferences both prior to COVID-19 and now: did buyers’ preferred location change as a result of the pandemic? Results show that a segment of home buyers have in fact shifted their preference towards the outlying suburbs due to the health crisis.

Prior to COVID-19, 26% of buyers wanted to buy a home in an outlying suburb; since the beginning of the pandemic, that share is now 30%. On the other hand, each of the other location options saw small declines or no change at all in preference.

For example, the share of buyers who would prefer a close-in suburb went from 29% prior to COVID-19 to 28% now; for a rural area, the share went from 24% to 23%; and for the downtown area of a central city, from 12% to 11%. Meanwhile, the share of buyers who want to purchase their next home in the central city outside of downtown remained unchanged at 9% before and after the onset of COVID-19.

Looking at results across racial/ethnic groups reveals that minorities are driving the increased interest for the suburbs (whether outlying or close-in). Among Asian home buyers, 62% preferred a suburban location prior to COVID-19, compared to 71% now –a 9-point increase. Among African-American buyers, the share rose seven points, from 56% to 63%; and among Hispanic buyers, it increased six points, from 46% to 52%. Meanwhile, the share of Caucasian buyers who prefer a suburban location did not change much because of COVID-19, up only one point from 56% to 57%.

* What Home Buyers Really Want, 2021 Edition sheds light on the housing preferences of the typical home buyer, but also on how those preferences change over time, and how they may vary based on demographic factors such as age, income, and geography. The study is based on a comprehensive, nationwide survey of 3,247 recent and prospective home buyers conducted in the summer of 2020. For a complete article summarizing the most important findings, please click here.

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1 reply

  1. Are we sure this doesn’t have anything to do with the violence and rioting going on in the cities? My clients are more concerned with this than covid.

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