October 11, 2020 (Source: Forbes/ Peter Lane Taylor) – Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, more deep-seated, tectonic-sized questions beyond markets and interest rates are being asked this time around that no one really has the answers to yet—like will people feel safer living in the south and southwest where they can spend all year social distancing outside? What if companies let workers work remotely for the rest of their lives? Why go back to retail shopping when I’m already ordering everything online? What’s the point of living “downtown” if half of the restaurants, bars, and museums never open back up?
How these questions get answered will fundamentally re-order how Americans live in the “new” pandemic normal, and as a result will play a huge X-factor in which cities and states will experience growth, demand, and price appreciation over the next 3-5 years, and which ones will stagnate and lose out. More broadly for large metropolises like Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia, the answers risk slowing or even reversing a wave of gentrification and wildly profitable downtown revitalization that’s been accelerating since before the Great Recession.
Against this backdrop, real estate’s new normal is also creating huge swathes of opportunity. Dozens of cities and counties that were once considered too small, too southern, too hot, too flat, or lacking in amenities, culture, or sophistication are now finding themselves being swooned to the top of the real estate desirability lists as Americans seek warmer, healthier, less dense, better educated, and more mobile places to live that offer closer access to the outdoors, better hospitals, smaller schools, and more open space with no clear end to the pandemic in sight.
To get a better view on what’s really happening to real estate in America right now I decided that it was time to do a deep dive into the actual data from the experts—including CoStar, Zillow, and Realtor—on how COVID-19’s great migration is actually shaking out and where the money and bodies are moving.
Here’s what I found out.
No matter who I spoke with, a few words kept resurfacing as we lurch into the post-pandemic future: warmer, safer, smaller, stabler, lower taxes, less regulation, and fewer lockdowns.
Regardless of where people come from or where they’re going, these things aren’t new on the list of what most Americans generally expect from the places they live, especially as they get older. (Northeasterners have been moving south and west for generations). The more interesting pandemic sub-text is the acceleration factor—and how the places where Americans are moving in the midst of COVID-19 may finally be expressing a more fundamental preference for how they really want to live instead of where they have to stay because of their job location or where their kids go to school. To keep reading, click here: Forbes