Key Highlights

  • Trend of migration to suburbs ONLY happening in most overheated housing markets, Manhattan and San Francisco, according to Curbed
  • Extremely expensive housing is cause, not pandemic

Looking at the data rather than the headlines, Curbed’s Jeff Andrews writes that the trend of mass migration from urban centers to the suburbs is happening ONLY in Manhattan and San Francisco. And again, looking only at the data rather than the headlines, Andrews writes that any outbound migration from these two overheated housing markets is motivated by extremely expensive housing costs, not the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Andrews cites a recent “exhaustive” study published by Zillow that examined many housing data points that suggested an urban-to-suburban migration trend. This study indicated:

  • No, pending home sales in urban and suburban areas are NOT different now than prior to the pandemic
  • No, suburban homes are NOT selling more quickly than in urban areas
  • No, suburban homes are NOT selling more quickly than in urban areas
  • No, suburban homes are NOT selling above list prices at higher rates than urban homes
  • No, urban homes are NOT seeing price cuts at higher rates than suburban homes
  • No, suburban areas are NOT seeing home valuations accelerating faster than urban areas
  • No suburban home listings are NOT getting larger shares of search traffic than urban areas compared to last year

Yes, San Francisco and Manhattan are seeing out-migration patterns but, according to Nancy Wu, an economist with StreetEasy, “People move out of New York all the time. The people who are moving to the suburbs to start a family there or to have a bigger place are looking now and buying their houses now…rather than renting…for a few more years.”

And yes, since the pandemic outbreak, San Francisco and Manhattan have seen their home prices drop, rent prices drop and vacancy rates jump.

No, two cities do NOT make a trend if looking only at the data but yes, two cities CAN make a trend if looking only at the headlines, particularly the two cities of San Francisco and Manhattan.

Thanks to Curbed.

Also read: Gravitation Towards Suburban/Rural Areas Continues, Higher End Sellers Returning to Market, Texas and California are Tales of Two State Housing Policies