Home Buyers May Find Less Competition Near City Centers for the First Time in Years

Staff Report

Monday, May 23rd, 2022

 For the first time since the Great Recession, buyers may have an easier time buying a home in the city than in nearby suburbs this home shopping season. That's because homes in the suburbs recently have been appreciating faster than urban homes, a new Zillow analysis shows, indicating stronger demand and fiercer competition.

While competition is strong in most of the country, there are pockets of opportunity for home buyers. 

Home values in suburban ZIP codes have been growing faster than those in urban areas since July 2021. The typical home in the suburbs gained $66,490 in value in the past year, compared to $61,671 for the typical urban home. That is a reversal from previous norms and from the first 15 months of the pandemic. From January 2013 — about the time when home values began to recover following the housing crash — through June 2021, urban homes were generally gaining value more quickly.

"In the beginning of the pandemic, home values in urban areas generally outpaced suburban areas, counter to what many expected during the rush for more space," said Zillow economist Nicole Bachaud. "And while urban home value gains have continued to accelerate, the suburbs are even hotter, showing just how strong demand is for limited suburban inventory. That could mean competition for homes will be lighter near city centers this home shopping season, something we haven't been able to say for nearly a decade. That's not to say shopping for a home in the city will be a leisurely affair, but any sliver of opportunity for buyers is welcome in this market."

Faster home value growth in the suburbs comes as remote work has changed the U.S. housing landscape. Research from the National Bureau of Economic Research found the shift to remote work is responsible for more than half of the gain in U.S. home prices since late 2019, and that the evolution of remote work is likely to have a major impact on the future path of home values.