Homebuyers are both searching for and buying larger homes as the pandemic drags on, according to a new Redfin study released Wednesday.

Nationwide, sales of homes between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet were up 21.2 percent year over year in July while a typical home that sold in the month leading up to August 16 was 3.7 percent, or 1,772 square feet, larger than the year before. In the previous year, this increased by only 0.4 percent — a change, Redfin says, was partially spurred by a widespread desire for more space amid the coronavirus outbreak and shelter-in-place orders.

“Most people would prefer a large home over a small home given the choice,” Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said in a statement. “That’s true regardless of what’s happening in the world, although spending more time at home due to the pandemic is encouraging some homebuyers to seek out bigger houses with bigger yards.”

The average minimum square footage that homebuyers looked at on Redfin was 1,864 in August — up from 1,794 square feet last year and 1,803 in January. Nonetheless, affordability problems and inventory shortages also mean medium and small home prices have been growing faster than large ones.

Small home prices increased 8.1 percent to $199,900 in July while medium-sized properties ticked up 7.5 percent to $322,500. Large homes increased by 6.7 percent to an average $539,000.


New listings of large homes are up 7.6 percent year over year while listings for medium and small homes fell 1 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively, according to Redfin. Small homes also sold faster than large or mid-sized homes  — after 28 days on the market, compared to 34  and 47, respectively.

“The lines are drawn economically,” Fairweather said. “The people with steady work-from-home jobs are able to move away from city centers, or even to entirely different parts of the country, and find more space for a similar price. But a lot of people searching for homes are in less advantageous financial situations and can’t afford more space even if they want it.”

Some of the most common things buyers are looking for in a large home include a space to work from home (21 percent of homebuyers), more outdoor or recreational space (21 percent) and a space for children to learn from (7 percent). While small and affordable homes are snapped up fastest, wanting more space to self-isolate and wait out the pandemic is a common theme across all purchasing levels.

“People want bigger: Bigger houses, bigger properties,” Redfin agent Chriss Houghton said in a prepared statement. “That’s what people are asking for, whether their idea of big is a half-acre, one acre or 10 acres. If people are living in a small cookie-cutter home right now, they want a larger house with extra rooms and a dedicated place for an office.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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