The chart above shows the June page views, which was probably the peak hysteria for those who were considering a drastic change. I think the heightened activity and sales could have just been from all the people who had been thinking about a move over the last 2-3 years, and they finally got on their horse. If we end up with about the same number of sales as last year, which looks probable, then sales were merely redistributed from April/May to late summer. Maybe a few more people left for the suburbs, but this report makes it look like it’s not a mass exodus.
Are people fleeing the cities for greener suburban pastures?
Some faint signals may have emerged in certain places, but by and large, the data show that suburban housing markets have not strengthened at a disproportionately rapid pace compared to urban markets. Both region types appear to be hot sellers’ markets right now – while many suburban areas have seen a strong improvement in housing activity in recent months, so, too, have many urban areas.
Zillow’s Economic Research team analyzed a variety of Zillow data points in order to illustrate this trend. Data related to for-sale listings are generally the best indicator of real-time housing market activity, and in all but a few cases, suburban markets and urban markets have seen similar changes in activity in recent months: about the same share of homes selling above their list price, similar changes in the typical time homes spend on the market before an offer is accepted, and recent improvements in newly pending sales have been about the same across each region type.
Other indicators also help drive home this conclusion. Changes in annual home value growth rates from just before the pandemic to now have been about the same for urban and suburban markets. In some regions where there is a divergence, the discrepancy can be explained by trends that were unfolding before the pandemic. Page view data also show that suburban home listings have not grown in relative popularity in the past few months. For-sale suburban homes attract more than three times as much of Zillow’s traffic as urban listings do, but that was the case last year as well. Interest in detached single-family homes (or similar) has not seen a marked increase in the past year, either.
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