More remote workers are willing to relocate in order to find affordable housing

Washington, DC

Housing is now less expensive than it has been for nearly four decades. But buying or renting a home may be equal less It is within reach now were it not for the continuing impact of remote workers and mixed workers resulting from the pandemic, according to A A recent study by Fannie Mae.

The study, which was an analysis of Fannie Mae’s monthly National Housing Survey, with questions posed to more than 3,000 home mortgage holders, landlords, and renters between January and March of this year, looked at how remote and blended work has changed over the past few years and its impact on Living.

According to the report, more people are willing to move to less expensive areas away from offices in city centers than they were a few years ago. The study found that the continuation of remote and blended work, at levels that have not changed significantly from two years ago, enables people to move towards affordability of housing.

The report also revealed that ‘affordability’ is the most important factor in finding a place to live, whether for renters or homeowners.

At the start of the year, 22% of remote and hybrid workers said they were willing to move to a different area or increase their commute. Only 14% of those workers were willing to do so in the third quarter of 2021, which is what was used for comparison throughout the study period and that was when many workplaces tried to “go back to work” until the Omicron variant for Covid-19 prompted many employers. Action plans again that winter.

Workers who are able to sever ties to live in an area because of its proximity to work are able to spread out, reducing competition for a historically low number of homes for sale which can drive prices higher.

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The research showed that among remote workers, all age and income groups are more willing to move or live away from their place of work since 2021. But younger workers – those between the ages of 18 and 34 – are much more willing to live than those who are older. Or they commute further from their work, which will jump from 18% in 2021 to 30% in 2023.

“We believe that this greater willingness to live away from the workplace … may be an indication that some workers feel more secure about their remote work situation … or be able to find another job if their current employer changes their policies.” the researchers wrote. researchers, in a summary.

This is good news for remote workers during a period when the affordability of homes is very low.

Remote and hybrid work may be here to stay. Or it stays here long enough for people to buy or rent a new home because of it, the researchers found.

Despite leaders of some high-profile companies demanding that employees either head to the office or walk out the door, the share of remote and fully-blended workers has remained surprisingly steady in the post-pandemic era, according to the study.

In the first part of the year, 35% of respondents worked completely remotely or worked in a mixed mix, some time in the workplace and some time at home. This is down slightly from 36% in 2021.

And while the share of workers who go to the workplace or office each day remains unchanged at 49% in both 2021 and 2023, the share of people who work entirely remotely rose to 14% this year from 13% in 2021.

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Homeowners are still slightly more likely to work from home than renters. The study found that those with higher education and higher incomes are also more likely to work from home, which corresponds to 2021.

Only 30% of low-income people, who earn 80% of the median income in the region, could work remotely or mixed work in 2021, and that percentage has dropped to 27% by this year. Meanwhile, 42% of high-income earners, those who make up 120% of median incomes in the region, were able to work from home in 2021 and this number remains unchanged in 2023.

According to the survey, low-income people—who are most in need of access to low-cost housing, and who live far from the city core—are also the people least likely to work remotely.

With housing affordability taking a hit over the past few years with rents soaring, home prices still high and mortgage rates hitting a 22-year high, it’s no surprise that “housing affordability” is the most important factor for people when choosing a home. new home. by 36%. This was a big jump compared to 2014, the last time the question was asked, when the main consideration was “neighborhood” at 49%.

Both homeowners and renters showed growth in prioritizing “affordability”, but the increase was greatest among renters, rising from 21% in 2014 to 46% in 2023.

“The change in tenant preference is truly remarkable, because it has not only doubled, but is a complete reflection of the relative importance of neighborhood that consumers cited as a number one consideration in 2014,” the researchers wrote.

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In addition, despite the talk of moving for more space, “home size” as a factor for choosing the next home has not changed and is still outperformed by “affordability”.

“The startling shift toward affordability as the number one consideration among respondents to the comprehensive survey for their next move underscores the need for families to find ways to deal with the dramatic rise in mortgage rates, home prices, and rents in the past few years,” the researchers wrote.

This affects where people look for a home and what they prioritize when searching.

“The affordability of home may also be a reason why we see an increase in the willingness of remote workers to relocate or live away from their place of work, especially given that, historically, a shorter commute to denser labor markets was considered a privileged convenience.” books.

The report found that suburbs are increasingly where people want to be, part of a trend that has continued since 2010. This share has increased between 2021 and 2023.

The researchers say that the change in the housing market caused by remote workers has broader implications for the relationship between housing and the labor market.

The growing share of renters and homeowners who work remotely and who want to live far away from their workplace gives employers access to a broader labor market, which could be beneficial if a downturn in economic activity leads to greater job losses.

“Access to a larger job market may also reduce the negative impact on local home prices when a major employer or industry contracts,” the researchers write.

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