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50% of City Dwellers Would Move if They Can Work From Home

If everyone in the U.S. could suddenly work from home, 50% of residents in four large U.S. cities surveyed said they’d move for space, privacy and security.

NEW YORK – The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated many American buyers to move from dense urban centers to smaller cities, suburbs and rural areas, even though some will return to traditional work settings after the COVID-19 pandemic passes. For these people, the “long commute” reason to avoid a home has taken a backseat to their desire for more space, privacy and security.

In April and May, 27% of the more than 1 million Redfin users searching for homes did so outside their metro area, and a separate Redfin survey found that 50% of respondents from New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston said they would move if the option to work from home became permanent.

However, the pandemic has added an element of risk to any moves since some smaller towns and cities face economic hardship during the pandemic.

In addition, the desire to move out of cities isn’t new to the pandemic. Before it started, many wealthy buyers were already leaving major urban areas, particularly those in the Northeast where the tax burden is high, for lower-tax states like Florida.

“A lot of people from the Northeast were moving here prior to COVID due to tax reform,” says Phil Gutman, president of Brown Harris Stevens Miami. “Between that and this pandemic, it’s a perfect storm.” In areas such as Palm Beach County, new contracts on single-family homes are significantly up in every price bracket.

Initially, Gutman says people were looking for rentals in South Florida to wait out the pandemic, but now they’re shifting to buying.

West Florida is also benefiting, says Niel Allen, a broker with Douglas Elliman in St. Petersburg, with buyers coming not only from the Northeast but also California and South Florida as they’re drawn to low-density, smaller cities.

Gutman says buyers can still get favorable deals in South Florida, but he expects the competition to heat up in the coming months.

Topics: Mansion Global (07/10/2020) Schubach, Alanna

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