The National Association of Realtors puts out an annual profile of homebuyers and sellers that helps me and my fellow members understand clients and trends that became apparent in the past year. Many of you are probably addicted to "house porn" and love to look at properties for sale online because the annual report keeps data about this topic. Here are some nuggets of information from the most recent report that might surprise you:
• Of the 15.9 million Americans who moved in 2020, 22% moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Nearly a third of aspiring homebuyers will look for a home with a dedicated office, along with more square footage and rooms.
• Millennial buyers are leaving more expensive, densely populated areas in favor of more affordable regions. Thus, suburban cities across the U.S. experienced an increase of new residents looking for space and affordability in a time of remote work opportunities.
What the survey proved to me is what I've gleaned from phone calls received from potential buyers: that 49% of millennials have pushed up their homebuying plans as a result of the pandemic, that 31% are first-time buyers, of which 57% are 18 to 34 years old. This means that the demand by first-time homebuyers is high, and indeed, the demand is insane. In my previous column, I noted that as of Dec. 31, there were 634 total homes, condos and townhomes for sale in all price ranges in Salt Lake County. There are no doubt more than 634 millennials looking for their first place to buy, to say nothing of the Boomers who are retiring and trying to downsize, often to smaller properties from where they've been living.
On the seller side, the report found that the top three reasons owners put their homes for sale were 1. The desire to move closer to friends and family; 2. Their current home was too small and 3. They experienced a change in their family situation (new baby, parents moving in, people moving in with parents, etc.). I found this to be true locally. The sellers I worked with this past year were moving to be closer to family, had lost jobs due to COVID-19 and/or needed to move in with family or wanted to move so they could have room for a home gym, home offices/Zoom rooms and/or wanted a larger yard for kids and pets.
As we continue living in this pandemic, I think we all will know how comforting it is having a home, given the alternatives. Sadly, thousands of people in Utah were laid off in 2020 or had to close their businesses. This will continue until we get control over this damned disease. Real estate reports around the country are predicting that people will lose their homes the longer this disease has us by the proverbial balls. Will foreclosures flooding the real estate market mean a drop in home prices? Possibly, but not likely in Utah because we are so desperately behind in affordable-housing options.