The latest data from several realtor organizations shows that buyers are showing more interest in urban homes, having largely abandoned cities for the suburbs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco went from full occupancy to almost 50% vacant at the height of coronavirus-related lockdowns, as residents sought to escape to safer and less congested areas, the New York Times reported.
But now, that trend has started to reverse, the data suggests.
For example, the Greater Boston Association of Realtors said in a report that single-family home and condo sales in the city were at the highest level on record during October. Meanwhile the Illinois Association of Realtors said home sales in Chicago grew by 39% in October, compared to the same month in 2019. And in New York, single-family home sales rose by 34% in October compared to the previous month.
Still, the same can’t be said for all urban areas. In San Francisco, which is one of the priciest markets in the U.S., realtors say they haven’t yet seen an increase in home sales. That said, new listings jumped by 46% in October compared to one year ago, while the median price for a single-family home fell by 1.6% over the same period. It could be due to big tec companies such as Facebook and Twitter, which are based in the Bay Area, having announced that their workers will be able to work remotely indefinitely. That frees up a lot of people to move.
Nevertheless, real estate experts say they believe the appeal of big cities will return as the coronavirus vaccine rollout escalates.
“I expect the big-city market to stay hot for a more gestalt reason: because city dwellers are city people,” Ryan Serhant, a real estate professional who stars in the Bravo network’s “Million Dollar Listing New York,” wrote in Forbes. “City dwellers aren’t the type who want to live in rural areas, have only one or two local restaurants to choose from, and lose the electric energy that makes our cities such special places to be. Collectively, we are all looking ahead and looking forward to a return to pre-pandemic life.”