While the emergence of work-from-home policies prompted a migration of homebuyers to affordable cities at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, return-to-work mandates are now triggering a similar movement.
Employers’ on-site work requirements are motivating 10.1% of home sellers to move, according to a recent Qualtrics survey commissioned by Redfin. It wasn’t the most common reason given by survey participants for deciding to relocate, but according to Redfin, the response rate is nonetheless noteworthy given the advent of the return-to-office trend.
Redfin agent Shauna Pendleton, who is based in Boise, Idaho, recalled a client that was forced to sell the home they bought about a year ago because their employer, headquartered in Seattle, is requiring their on-site office return.
“My sellers both work at the same company, which told them they have to be in the office three days a week or they’ll lose their jobs,” Pendleton said. “They have six months to make the move. They’ll probably have to take a $100,000 loss on their home. Their new house in Seattle won’t be anything close to the size of their property in Boise and their mortgage rate will be much higher.”
Pendleton’s clients are among the sellers who are having to take action in a market with the highest interest rates in more than 20 years because they don’t have the luxury to wait for more favorable conditions. But even in the high interest rate environment, there are sellers motivated by more traditional factors, including the desire for more space. That factor remained the most common reason cited by survey respondents who are planning to sell their homes within the next year, with 33.8% indicating it’s one of the reasons for their move. Other important factors included wanting to be closer to family (22.6%) and a lower cost of living (21.6%).
Redfin’s survey also revealed that social and geographical issues are increasingly top of mind for home sellers. About one in five (19.3%) want to move somewhere better aligned with their views on social issues, while a nearly identical percentage (19%) pointed to lower taxes as a driver for their relocation. Other key factors include concerns about safety or crime (17.9%), discrimination in their current neighborhood (10.6%) and the impact of climate change on their current neighborhood (8.4%).
“Real estate is all about priorities and compromise,” said Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist. “While a lot of homeowners are staying put, refusing to give up their rock-bottom mortgage rates, some are opting to trade their low rate for a safer neighborhood, lower taxes and/or neighbors with the same political views.”