Most homebuyers didn't move very far during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many Americans to re-evaluate where they live. As more companies allowed employees to work remotely, living close to the office is no longer a priority for many.

That new-found freedom meant millions of Americans chose to relocate during the pandemic, though a recent survey from the real estate firm Knock, finds they didn’t go very far.

“Despite the buzz and the reports to the contrary, most people actually did not move cross country,” Knock co-founder and CEO Sean Black told Yahoo Finance Live. “Of those who bought houses last year, almost 60% moved to a new city within their existing state.”

The survey of some 2,000 homeowners revealed that younger people did the majority of the moving during the pandemic. Fifty-eight percent of those who moved from April to December in 2020 were either millennials or Gen Z, a trend Black expects to continue through at least this year.

As expected, more space was a top priority, according to the Knock survey. Homeowners preferred larger homes where they can work and play with perks like an office, chef’s kitchen, and exercise room.

"Rather than moving across the country, they're moving to less-populated areas, suburban areas, and smaller cities. In fact, overwhelmingly, 40% moving to cities with fewer than 10,000 people, so taking the social distancing to an extreme,” said Black.

According to the survey the top-10 destinations for relocating homeowners during the pandemic were: Camden, NJ, Ogden, Utah, New Brunswick, NJ, Virginia Beach, Va., Boise City, Idaho, Provo, Utah, Riverside, Calif., Sacramento, Calif., Tulsa, Okla., and Elgin, Il.

In many parts of the country, prospective homebuyers are expected to be met with rising home prices. An unprecedented shortage of available homes for sale has sparked bidding wars for many properties, which in turn has pushed prices higher. Home prices are rising at the fastest pace since 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The median existing-home price in April 2021 was a record $341,600 and the NAR expects home prices to grow by 8% in 2021 and by 5.5% in 2022.

“We have, at any given time right now, 70 to 100 buyers who are just trying to find a home,” said Black. “They're fully pre-approved to do what we call a Knock Home Swap, but they're challenged to find a home. We don't see that easing up in the foreseeable future with rates staying low and the Fed promising to keep it that way for some time.”

Alexis Christoforous is an anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.

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