Buyers Moving Farther than Ever Before


People temporarily fled cities during the pandemic, and now that more are officially being offered full-time remote status, they’re deciding to become homebuyers.

NEW YORK – Homebuyers who purchased a home in the year that ended in June moved a median of 50 miles from their previous residences, according to a recent National Association of Realtors® (NAR) survey.

It’s the highest moving distance on record in annual data that goes back to 2005, and it follows five straight years in which the median distance moved was constant at 15 miles.

Why the change? In part it’s the post-pandemic world.

Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of research, says the increase in moving distance soared because many employers solidified their in-office requirements. As a result, employees who officially became 100% remote workers were guaranteed the ability to move farther from their offices, and that empowered them to make an offer on a home farther away.

In mid-2021, “people had the freedom and the ability with the low interest rates to say, ‘I’m going to make this move now,’” Lautz says.

NAR also found that 48% of home purchases were in small towns and rural areas, a record in data going back to 2003 and up from 32% just one year earlier.

Suburbs are traditionally the most popular destinations for homebuyers, but the share of suburban home purchases dropped to 39% from 51% the prior year. And only 10% of purchases were in urban areas, down from 13% the year before.

The metro area with the highest net migration of homebuyers between March 2020 and February 2022 was Riverside, California, about 50 miles from Los Angeles, according to Freddie Mac. North Port, Florida, about 80 miles from Tampa, also attracted many homebuyers during the period.

Source: Wall Street Journal (11/03/22) Friedman, Nicole

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