The Future of Urban & Suburban Housing in the Wake of COVID-19

WOBO Governor Stephen Jones attended the NHAB virtual webinar – a real reflection of society housing activity and the impact of COVID-19.

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Archives - FHBA


Stephen attended the virtual webinar, “The Future of Urban & Suburban Housing in the Wake of COVID-19” and the presentations from the following individuals. 


  • Richard M. Gollis, Co-Founder and Principal, The Concord Group
  • Robert Dietz, Chief Economist, NAHB
  • John Affleck, VP, Market Analytics, Costar
  • Svenja Gudell, Chief Economist, Zillow Group
  • Charles Elliott,President, Toll Brothers Apartment Living

Interesting discussions reflected on the current state of society and highlighted a range of facts, statistics and trends within the housing market.

  • Low to mid-rise, middle-density apartments are making up 50% of the new housing market.
  • This housing trend has shown the greatest acceleration of all housing aspects.
  • The work-from-home trend is helping to facilitate this movement.
  • Land availability and regulatory issues are still key factors in hindering development. (Codes were not cited as an issue in hindering development)
  • “Multi-family developments” have set a new 3rd quarter development record.
  • 125,000 new apartments were delivered in the 3rd quarter. 
  • 4th quarter starts have dropped off dramatically.
  • Suburban supply is hindering the single-family market – both new and resale.
  • Rents “downtown” (urban) are down nationally by 3.5%
  • 2-bedroom units are selling better than single bedroom units. (Hypothesized that the demand is due to work-from-home trend…second bedroom offers work space).
  • The San Francisco rental cost is down an average of 17% – highest in country.
  • Housing demand is being driven by Millennials (first time buyers)
  • Buyers demand is strong – not enough sellers.
  • Housing inventory is down 37% year on year.
  • Average time-on-market for Suburban Single-Family Homes: 12 days where as the average time for 2019 was 42 days.
  • Median “seller price” up 11.7%  year on year.
  • Weighted median average: Suburban up 4.1%, Urban up 4.3%…confirming that the urban housing market is still strong.
  • 18-25yr old’s living with parents: 2019: 54.7%; 2020: 61.2%
  • Demand is still high and climbing in suburban market across all sectors.
  • Inflection point from urban to suburban demand dates to 2018….not directly tied to Covid crisis. This trend existed long before Covid reared its ugly head…however, the disease has caused a dramatic increase in people leaving urban areas.
  • Millennials cannot spend their income on “experiences/adventures” so they are saving up to buy property.
  • Work-from-home trend is causing a dramatic increase in home renovation projects.
  • Increase seen in “second home” purchase/use due to work-from-home prevalence.
  • “Golden Age” of Housing is Here!
  • Trend towards “15-minute neighbourhoods”

In summary, the webinar highlighted the movement within the current housing market, societal changes, the movement of people and the changing economic trends now and for the future.

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