Though the migration of urban homeowners to the suburbs hasn’t happened quite yet, housing experts say that the pandemic will accelerate the trend of residential construction activity expanding more rapidly in lower density markets, according to the NAHB Home Building Geography Index. These lower density markets already have a 47 percent share of all single-family homes and are home to 44 percent of the population. Home construction activity was already growing faster in the inner and outer suburbs than in cities. Now that some of the weaknesses of high density areas during a pandemic have been exposed, NAHB expects the trend to continue.
The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to hasten a housing trend already taking place across the nation – residential construction activity that is expanding at a more rapid rate in lower density markets such as smaller cities and rural areas. This conclusion is among the findings of the latest quarterly National Association of Home Builders Home Building Geography Index (HBGI).
An unavoidable lesson of the public health crisis associated with COVID-19 is that major metropolitan areas faced greater challenges. High density lifestyles, championed by some planners over the last decade as a rival to suburban living, proved to be vulnerable to a virus due to crowded living conditions, dependency on mass transit, and insufficient health and public sector infrastructure. Moreover, the spread of COVID-19 that began towards latter half of the first quarter of 2020 resulted in the closure of most non-essential businesses, weakening economic activity and housing demand.