Zillow Study on Pandemic Urban Housing Popularity

The potential plight of urban housing markets made headlines early on in the COVID-19 pandemic. Commentators were quick to predict that one of the long-term impacts of the crisis would be a mass exodus from previously booming cities towards the suburbs. However, new data from the real estate listing platform Zillow shows that people haven’t exactly stopped wanting to live in cities. 

Zillow’s 2020 Urban-Suburban Market Report shows little change in the popularity of suburban versus urban listings on their platform. Far from heralding a crash in buyer intent, urban listings accounted for 16.4 percent of all page views in June, an increase of 0.2 percent at the same time last year.

In terms of sale prices, urban areas have seen a relative decline—but not a catastrophic one. Zillow’s report shows that sale prices have decelerated 6 percent more in major cities compared to the suburbs, but the sale prices in urban areas are still above where they were this time last year.

While urban and suburban real estate markets haven’t changed much in most areas, it’s starting to look like prices in some of the nation’s hottest urban zip codes are indeed cooling off. Home values in Manhattan appear to have declined 4.2 percent since last year, and property listings in the Big Apple are lingering two months longer than they were in 2019. But for now, there’s no concrete evidence of this supposed mass exodus.

So to answer the question as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic will make urban areas less attractive, it’s either too early to tell or a load of hyperbole. That said, if you’re looking to snag a bargain in New York City or San Francisco, your day might be coming.

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