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Exodus to the Suburbs Appears to Be Reversing

A pandemic-caused push to relocate from cities to suburbs may have created an opportunity for suburbanites who prefer city living – a reason to make their move now.

NEW YORK – The latest housing data shows consumers returning to urban areas after abandoning cities for the suburbs in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. In places such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston, some rental buildings went from full occupancy to 50% vacant as remote work and school enabled residents to move to less congested areas.

But there are signs of a trend reversal.

The Greater Boston Association of Realtors® reports that sales of single-family homes and condos in the city hit a record level in October. In Chicago, home sales surged 39% the same month compared to a year ago, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors. In New York City, single-family home sales jumped 34% from September to October.

However, real estate experts note that there are exceptions to an apparent urban resurgence. San Francisco – one of the nation’s priciest markets – hasn’t seen a major spike in home sales yet. Still, new listings in the Bay Area surged 46% year-over-year in October, and the median home price in the city dropped 1.6% compared to a year ago. Several major San Francisco-based companies like Facebook and Twitter announced indefinite work-from-home plans, freeing workers to move.

The appeal of big cities will likely return as the coronavirus vaccine rollout escalates, real estate experts predict.

“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,” writes for Forbes.com. “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.”

Source: “Has the COVID Exodus Ended? Buyers Are Flooding Back to These 3 Major Cities,” Forbes.com (Dec. 30, 2020) and “Coming Home,” The New York Times (Jan. 1, 2020)

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