In COVID's Wake, Millennials Driving Nation's Desire for Bigger Homes, Outdoor Space

NAR survey also shows demand for walkable communities persisting seven months into pandemic.

WASHINGTON (October 12, 2020) – A study from the National Association of Realtors® is confirming many of the migration trends that had been anticipated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although generally done every two years, NAR conducted a pair of Community and Transportation Preference Surveys in 2020 to accurately register the impacts of the coronavirus. The latest iteration shows younger Americans – particularly those with children – have been most affected, although those who live in walkable communities register a higher quality of life than those who live in less walkable areas.

“NAR has conducted community preference surveys for over 20 years, providing Realtors® and their communities with decades of information regarding changing American lifestyles and migration trends,” said NAR President Vince Malta. “In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, this data has become even more consequential, helping local communities and Realtor® associations implement various smart growth changes to account for these shifts.”

According to the NAR study, Americans under 40 (millennials and Generation Y) are most likely to say their overall quality of life has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, while they also note a reduced need to reside near highways, public transit or their place of work.

“Although COVID has dramatically changed people’s lives, this study shows that a substantial demand for walkability persists for Americans of all ages,” Malta added.

Among other noteworthy findings of the July survey:

  • Respondents who strongly agree that there are “lots of places to walk nearby” show an 8% increase in quality of life.
  • Families with children in school show an increased desire for detached homes and larger yards.
    • In February, a majority of Americans preferred a smaller yard in a walkable community.
  • The importance of easy access to public transit and highways dropped 8% and 5%, respectively, from pre-pandemic levels.
  • Americans older than 55 and those with higher incomes show an increased interest in walkability.

NAR’s biannual Community & Transportation Preferences Survey polls residents in America’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. The first 2020 survey was conducted in February, immediately before the impacts of COVID-19 began to be felt, and again at the end of July.

The National Association of Realtors® is America's largest trade association, representing 1.4 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #