Suburban Home Prices Are Rising. But So Are Most Urban Home Prices
By Nicole Friedman
Suburban housing markets have been on a tear since the pandemic,
as home buyers have sought more space. But a new analysis shows
home sales in most urban markets are doing nearly as well.
The new analysis challenges the prevailing wisdom that city
homeowners have been selling homes since the start of the pandemic
to move to suburban houses with outdoor space, home offices and
more square footage.
Median suburban home prices at the end of June were up 3.3% year
over year, according to a new analysis by Zillow Group Inc. Median
urban home prices at the end of June were flat from a year earlier,
Home values in the urban ZIP Codes tracked by Zillow were
dragged down in part by San Francisco and Manhattan where demand
has been relatively weak. June prices also largely reflect
properties that went under contract in May, when some of the
country's biggest cities were under lockdowns. In the Midwest,
urban and suburban ZIP Codes showed little difference in price
Zillow's Home Value Index, which estimates price changes for all
houses in an area, not just the ones that recently sold, rose more
than 4% in June from a year earlier for both urban and suburban ZIP
Buyers are eagerly shopping in cities and suburbs, spurred by
low interest rates, said Jeff Tucker, an economist at Zillow.
"Demand in the suburbs is strong because demand is strong almost
everywhere," Mr. Tucker said. "For every urbanite who's fed up with
the city and selling their condo right now to move to the suburbs,
I'm hearing from two or three people who are renting nearby and
saying, 'Awesome, I'll take your condo.' "
A lack of homes for sale is a big reason why home prices have
continued to rise despite high unemployment. Nationally, the
inventory of homes on the market as of Aug. 8 was down 36% from a
year earlier, according to Realtor.com. ( News Corp, parent of The
Wall Street Journal, operates Realtor.com.) Record-low interest
rates have boosted demand, but some sellers are holding off on
listing their houses until the pandemic ends, brokers say.
But in Manhattan and San Francisco, where demand has remained
soft, an excess of housing supply came on the market as lockdowns
eased and agents could show homes more readily. New listings in
Manhattan rose 87% in July compared with a year earlier, according
to listing site StreetEasy, which is owned by Zillow. San Francisco
inventory nearly doubled from a year earlier on Aug. 1, Zillow
These are also the two most expensive housing markets, leaving
them more vulnerable to price adjustments on the downside. The
median sales price in Manhattan plunged 39.6% in June from a year
earlier, before rebounding in July, according to StreetEasy.
Single-family existing home sale prices in San Francisco fell
4.1% from a year earlier in May, according to the California
Association of Realtors. But these prices also bounced back a bit,
rising 2.4% in June from a year earlier.
"The surrounding areas have really taken off and become far more
competitive," as home shoppers seek more space, said Justin
Fichelson, a San Francisco real-estate agent. Still, he said, "I
don't really see an abnormal amount of people selling to leave the
Median sales price data can be volatile, especially when the
number of sales drops as it did this spring due to the pandemic.
Median prices can also reflect changes in the mix of high-price and
low-price homes being sold.
Zillow also said its search data doesn't show a change in urban
and suburban demand compared with last year.
New figures released from the National Association of Realtors
on Wednesday show how widespread demand for housing has been.
Median single-family home prices rose year over year in almost
every metro area in the country in the second quarter. The national
median price for an existing single-family home was $291,300 in the
second quarter, up 4.2% from a year earlier.
Some of the strongest markets were inland cities, including
Huntsville, Ala., where median home prices rose 13.5% from a year
earlier, and Memphis, Tenn., where prices rose 13.4%, NAR said.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 13, 2020 11:24 ET (15:24 GMT)
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