Pandemic Led Many to New Home Dreams

A man stands in a field looking out toward a

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Consumers continue to believe that homeownership is the American dream, and the pandemic may have provided consumers with more time to ponder what that dream would look like for them.

Over a quarter of Americans—29%—say they have been more likely to think about pursuing their dreams since the pandemic began, whether that is making a housing move, pursuing a passion project, making a career change, or expanding their family, according to a new survey commissioned by Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC of 2,000 U.S. adults.

When it comes to finding a home, location and lifestyle tended to be top-of-mind. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said it’s important to them that the location of their home—whether rural, suburban, or urban—aligns with their lifestyle.

Not all Americans’ dream homes look alike. The top dream home locations, according to survey respondents, were split among:

  • Locations with warm weather: 33%
  • Suburban areas with ample space: 28%
  • Remote and off the beaten path with a large plot of land: 25%

Is a Dream Home Practical?

Forty-six percent of homeowners surveyed say they are unsure of the current value of their homes. They may not know if the dream home is obtainable. Some are relying on real estate websites with a home value estimate calculator as a first step before contacting a real estate agent.

In fact, survey respondents say that if they were looking to sell, they would seek a real estate website with a home price estimate calculator as their initial step in the process, according to the survey. Still, 60% of respondents said they would trust a licensed real estate agent to accurately estimate the value of a home over an online valuation tool.

For those who do want to press ahead in their homebuying dreams, they are face a limited selection. Two-thirds of potential home buyers say they haven’t found their dream home; the percentage is highest among Gen Z and millennials.

Why Moving Dreams Remain High

Compared with a similar survey conducted last fall, respondents showed more willingness to take a pay cut or accept a new job with a lower salary if it meant they could move to a more affordable location, according to the Coldwell Banker survey. The “Great Resignation” could be a wild card for the real estate market, and housing affordability and cost of living are factors weighing on more Americans, the survey found.

Forty-four percent of American homeowners who plan to sell their homes in the future want to move to a different city or state. But they aren’t moving on a whim, the survey says. They’re prioritizing the following factors:

  • Quality of life (lifestyle and environmental elements): 94%
  • Housing affordability: 93%
  • Cost-of-living affordability: 93%
  • Job market strength: 70%

Coldwell Banker says it created the Move Meter with such criteria in mind. The tool allows consumers to compare various price points to evaluate a move from one place to another, such as weighing housing affordability, quality of life, job market strength, and living affordability.