The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic sent many consumers from higher-priced urban areas to the suburbs.
And that demand is still strong, creating a competitive market for buyers looking outside cities. According to Realtor.com®, the growth of consumers browsing online for homes for sale in the suburbs has increased 42.1% compared to two years ago, while the search for urban homes has risen 40.5%. However, urban listings have risen faster than suburban listings, leading to higher demand in the suburbs. Compared to September 2020, in September 2021, urban listings were up 4.8%, while suburban listings were up 3.8%. Yet, listings still remain far below pre-pandemic levels, with urban listings down 8% compared to two years ago and suburban listings down 14.4%.
Inventory remains a challenge for suburban markets. In September 2021, the stock in the suburbs dropped 13% year over year, while the stock in urban areas fell 6.3%. Compared to stock pre-pandemic, the suburbs have 54.5% less inventory, while urban areas have 43.4% less inventory. Pre-pandemic, suburban houses for sale made up 64% of inventory, but that has fallen to 59% as of September.
Not surprisingly, with more demand and less available homes, suburban home prices are rising faster than urban home prices, against traditional norms. As of September, the median listing price per square foot is $212 in the suburbs, up 18% from 2020 and 28.4% in 2019. Comparatively, the median listing price per square foot is $226, up 14.9% from last year and up 25.4% from 2019. Suburban homes are also moving at a quick pace. In 2021, suburban homes spent an average of 38 days on the market, nine days shorter than 2020 and 22 days faster than 2019. Meanwhile, on average, urban homes sold in 36 days, eight days shorter than 2020 and 16 days less than 2019.