Zillow’s latest report revealed what pushed Americans to move during the pandemic and which markets experienced the largest inflow of new homebuyers.

The pandemic has upended the way millions of Americans live and work, which has led to what experts call “The Great Reshuffling” from urban coastal hubs to nearby or far-flung suburbs with more space and lower prices.

According to a Zillow survey of 2,500 Americans released on Tuesday, 11 percent of buyers moved last year with the majority (75 percent) leaving their locales to take advantage of lower home prices or be closer to family. Another 70 percent said they’d consider making a move once there’s widespread vaccine distribution.

“The pandemic brought an acceleration of trends we were seeing in 2018 and 2019,” Zillow Senior Economist Jeff Tucker said in the survey. “More affordable, medium-sized metro areas across the Sun Belt saw significantly more people coming than going, especially from more expensive, larger cities farther north and on the coasts.”

From January to November 2020, Phoenix, Charlotte, and Austin experienced the highest net inbound moves from expensive coastal markets. Meanwhile, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago had the highest net outbound moves with residents choosing markets all over the country, including Dallas-Ft. Worth, Miami, and Sarasota, Fla., as their new homes.

Thirty-one percent of respondents said they’d been planning their move for more than a year, but worries about the financial and logistical aspect of moving (76 percent) and how their children would handle such a change (23 percent) prevented them from following through.

“The future for us is growth,” homebuyer Darren Rollinson said in the survey. “Now we believe we can do anything. We know we’ve made an achievement. We can keep on growing and take bigger steps.”

Despite the initial fear and anxiety, more than half of movers said they were “happy” (54 percent) and “relieved” (53 percent) about their final decision. Nearly 60 percent of respondents said their move led to positive experiences, such as finding their dream home or achieving a new goal.

Respondents said technology was a gamechanger in their moving process, with the majority of Americans saying virtual tours and digital floor plans are an integral part of the home shopping experience (79 percent).

“Homes on Zillow with a 3D Home tour were saved by buyers 32 percent more than homes without, and got, on average, 29 percent more views than listings without,” the report read while noting the availability of Zillow’s homebuying, homeselling, and home financing options.

“The pandemic has catalyzed purchases by millennial first-time buyers, many of whom can now work from anywhere,” Tucker added.

Email Marian McPherson

homebuying | Zillow
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