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Working From Home Could Bring 2 Million Buyers Into the Market

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Working From Home Could Bring 2 Million Buyers Into the Market


September 3, 2020
Woman working from home
By Impact Photography

By analyzing renter households in the largest U.S. metros, Zillow discovered that nearly 2 million renters could become homeowners if given the option to work from home. The company evaluated renter households which cannot afford starter homes in their metro areas, then created a probability of those renters to telecommute based on income, industry, and occupation. Then, Zillow found how many households of those could afford a starter home if they lived in the suburbs. They landed on 1.92 million, a total of 4.5% renter households. And nearly half of U.S. workers could work from home, but less than a quarter actually do, Zillow says.

But the ongoing pandemic has shaken up how workers and their employers alike think about the relationship between work and home. Over the past six months, many companies have found that their workforce can function better remotely than originally thought.  If telework becomes more of a norm, and businesses allow it where possible, this could give millions of Americans more choice over their home and home finances.

Among the country’s largest metros, the San Francisco Bay Area is home to the most renters who could maybe leave and buy a home elsewhere if telework became the norm — perhaps unsurprisingly, given how expensive the area is relative to both the U.S. and most other large metros. In the San Francisco and San Jose metro areas, 22% and 25.2% of local renters, respectively, would be able to leave the area and buy a home in a cheaper local if telework were an option — almost a quarter million renters total. Los Angeles (17.2% of renters could leave and buy a starter home elsewhere), San Diego (15.4%) and Denver (14.6%) round out the top 5 list of large markets in which the largest share of renters could afford a home elsewhere. 

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