How the Coronavirus Vaccine Could Further Fuel the Upcoming Home Shopping Season

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·5 min read
  • A large majority of homeowners (70%) say they would be mostly or completely comfortable moving to a new home with widespread COVID-19 vaccine distribution, compared to about half (52%) who currently feel that way.

  • That represents homeowners in 14 million homes who feel newly comfortable moving after widespread vaccination.

  • Nearly four in five (78%) homeowners who said the vaccine would impact their decision to sell say they expect it to make them more likely to move.

A slim majority of homeowners (52%) say they would be largely comfortable moving to a new home under current public health conditions, according to a recent Zillow survey of U.S. homeowners. But 70% say they would feel the same after widespread vaccine distribution — a difference equal to homeowners in more than 14 million homes feeling newly comfortable moving that don’t necessarily feel that way now.

Despite a hot market marked by rampant demand from eager buyers, homeowners with the potential to sell have stayed on the sidelines more so than Americans looking to buy — with pandemic fears given as one of the main reasons for staying put. But if and when that anxiety fades, many sellers may decide to enter the market and list their homes, helping to ease an ongoing inventory crunch and also contributing to keeping home buying demand high as they list and look for new homes themselves.

Under current conditions, homeowners were more likely to say they feel comfortable moving to a new home (52% of those surveyed said so) than going out to dinner inside a restaurant (44%), sending children to school in person (43%), going on vacation (37%) and/or attending a live performance, concert, or sporting event (23%). While the share that currently feel comfortable moving is comparatively high, the percentage that said they expect to be comfortable selling and moving is even higher: 70%. Applied to the American Community Survey's count of all owner-occupied housing units this gap between those that currently feel comfortable moving and those that expect to after widespread vaccination amounts to homeowners in more than 14 million homes feeling newly comfortable moving.

Among homeowners who said the pandemic impacted their decision to move, 60% said it made them less likely to move. But among those that said the vaccine would impact their decision, 78% said they expect it to make them more likely to move. With widespread vaccine distribution, majorities of homeowners also said they are at least quite confident that they could sell their home for a profit (69%) and within their preferred timeline (63%).

Consistent with previous Zillow research, younger homeowners were more likely to report having plans to sell within the next three years: 37% of Gen Z & Millennial homeowners said they had such plans. These younger homeowners were also more likely to say that the pandemic impacted their decision to move: About one in four Gen Z & Millennial homeowners (26%) said it did, compared to 15% of Gen X and 9% of Boomer & Silent Generation homeowners. Generational differences in expectations that the vaccine will impact such plans are similar: 26% of Gen Z & Millennial homeowners said they expect it to have an impact, while only 15% of Gen X and 10% of Boomer & Silent Gen homeowners said the same.

While younger homeowners were more likely to report that they expect widespread vaccine distribution to impact their plans to sell, the oldest generation of homeowners was most likely to report confidence in their ability to sell their home for a profit post-vaccine (75% of Boomer & Silent generation homeowners reported being at least quite confident, compared to 64% of Gen X and 58% of Gen Z & Millennial homeowners). The trend is similar for confidence they could sell within their preferred timeline (66% of the oldest generations report being at least quite confident, compared to 58% of Gen X and 57% of Gen Z & Millennial homeowners).

Urban homeowners' tendencies were similar to their younger counterparts': 26% of them said they had plans to sell their home within the next 3 years — higher than 18% in suburban and 14% in rural areas. One in four urban homeowners (25%) said that they expect widespread vaccine distribution to impact their decision to move — higher than 12% in suburban and 11% in rural areas.

We expect that the vaccine rollout will likely boost inventory, as sellers become increasingly willing to move despite Covid-19 — resulting in greater numbers of new listings beginning this spring. That injection of inventory could give buyers more options and breathing room in a competitive market. The vaccine, however, will also likely add to already-strong demand, given that most sellers will become buyers as they trade in for a home that better suits their new needs.

Methodology

Zillow Group Population Science collected a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 homeowners. Fielded between January 26 and January 29, 2021, the survey asked homeowners questions about how the pandemic and widespread distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine would impact their plans to move. To achieve national representativeness, quotas for age, education, sex, region, race, and marital status limited oversampling of any given demographic group for both surveys. In addition to quotas, Zillow used statistical raking to weight the sample to the US Census Bureau American Community Survey 2019 sample of homeowners. Homeowners were defined as household decision makers that own their home and did not move within the past year.

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