Home builders target less densely populated areas



The National Association of Home Builders says that building firms have shown a notable suburban shift in recent months, with small metro suburbs the only region to post a second-quarter gain in new single-family home construction in the last quarter.

Home construction in small metro suburbs has increased 10.6 in the last quarter on an annual average basis, the NAHB’s latest Eye on Housing blog post revealed. The fastest-growing places for apartment construction in the quarter was also found in exurbs, small metro suburbs and in rural areas, the NAHB found.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic reared its head, around 55% of the U.S. population was said to live in “large metro areas”, but these places comprise just 8.2% of all the land in the nation. Now, with consumers looking to spread out, that’s opening up more opportunities for builders, who have long felt constrained by a shortage of available building lots in urban areas.

The trend is being driven by a growing desire among buyers to live in less densely populated areas as a result of COVID-19, the NAHB said. Due to this, lower density housing markets now account for around half of all single-family construction on an annual basis. Meanwhile, large metro core areas saw a decline in new construction of almost 18% in the second quarter.

Small metro suburbs are defined by the NAHB as “outlying counties” outside from urban areas that have less than 1 million population.

Almost a third of Americans surveyed said that they were looking to move to less densely populated areas following the initial outbreak of COVID-19, according to a Harris Poll conducted in April. Those living in urban areas were twice as likely as suburban and rural residents to have browsed listings of homes and apartments for sale.

Single-family construction is growing faster in low-density markets as existing home affordability constraints remain, a growing share of the workforce is at home part- or full-time, a rising need for households to seek out greater affordable housing further out from large metro cores, and density concerns sparked over the virus, the NAHB said.

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