The COVID-19 pandemic has really taken the shine out of big-city life. With the usual gathering places shuttered and little space to maintain physical distance from others, many folks are revising the perceived value of urban living and hightailing it to the suburbs—where they can have room for a real home office and a yard.
But at the same time, the inventory of homes available to buy is at an all-time low. And you know what they say about supply and demand, right? You’ve got it: Prices are shooting up in the now desirable suburbs.
Still, despite what many hardcore city dwellers might believe, not all bedroom communities are the same. So realtor.com® set out to find which pockets of suburbia have prices that are rising the most—and the fastest. And we found a few surprises.
“If you look at the towns on this list, it highlights there are other benefits to living in some of these areas beyond affordability,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com.
The burbs where prices are rising the most are a mixed bag right now, a combo of traditionally sought-after places situated near some of the nation’s most expensive cities; lesser known towns in more far-flung regions; and even a couple of popular vacation spots. But all offer decent value per square foot for the money—even with those price increases—and plenty of local outdoor amenities such as parks, lakes, or beaches.
To figure out which neighborhoods are the hottest this year, the numbers-crunching realtor.com data team tracked home price data in suburban areas identified by consumer data firm Claritas from October 2019 to October 2020. To keep it geographically diverse, the team limited the selection to one suburb (with a minimum of 100 listings) per state.
So let’s take a tour of the towns where the grass is greener, the air is clearer, and the prices are steep and getting steeper. Buckle up!
1. Lakewood, NJ
Median listing price: $309,000
Percentage increase: 47.6%
Unlike the New York City–adjacent suburbs of northern New Jersey, Lakewood and other towns in the central part of the Garden State aren’t relying mainly on stressed former urbanites for their influx of new residents. There are plenty of home sales coming from folks already in the area desperately looking to trade up—or scale down—in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. All that activity, along with skimpy inventory, has led to a price surge.
Lakewood also has an ample supply of 55-plus communities, where homes have been selling fast as boomers cash out the equity in their existing homes for more manageable condos and townhomes in communities that are known for their social vibes. Older adults can pick up a two-bedroom starting as low at $80,000 in a golf course community if they’re willing to put in a bit of work, or even find a fully renovated two-bedroom with marble and granite galore for just $169,000.
“Boomers are moving,” says Susan Miller, sales associate with Diane Turton Realtors. “It’s a seller’s market right now, so you see people wanting to take advantage of that.”
Median listing price: $499,000
Percentage increase: 45.7%
One might have assumed a global pandemic would temper California’s feverish real estate market. It hasn’t! In fact, the already pricey state has seen a surge in home values across the board. And its mountain resort towns are seeing the steepest increases. Lake Arrowhead, just an hour and a half from Los Angeles, has seen a 47.7% year-over-year growth rate in sales, and a 45.7% price increase.
The quaint and quiet ski village by the lake has been considered a weekend get-away for decades. But the stay-at-home orders of COVID-19 have led to unprecedented bidding wars here. New part-time and full-time residents have been snatching up mountain escapes like this four-bedroom treehouse listed at $468,000 (a price that can barely fetch a condo in L.A.), and this five-bedroom right near the lake for $825,000.
Median listing price: $399,500
Percentage increase: 35.6%
On the southwestern shore of Lake St. Clair, just to the east of Detroit, Grosse Pointe has long been known as the preferred ZIP code of the blue-blood set. Edsel Ford, son of Henry, and his wife, Eleanor, bought a mansion in the area back in 1928. (It’s now a museum.) Basically, if you want to find old money in Michigan, Grosse Pointe is where’d you go.
Prices have been rising like crazy as city slickers seeking greener pastures engage in bidding wars; however, not all buyers need access to a trust fund to get into the market (though it never hurts). Young families willing to do some updates have been able to snatch up cute fixer-uppers, including this $219,000 three-bedroom or this large four-bedroom listed at $315,000. And there’s this historic seven-bedroom Tudor near the lake if you’re willing to throw down $899,000.
4. Beacon, NY
Median listing price: $440,000
Percentage increase: 33.1%
Well before COVID-19 created a rush of New Yorkers desperate for fresh air and outdoor space, Beacon was one of the top destinations for Manhattanites seeking respite from the city. As the home of Dia Beacon, a world renowned art museum, a quaint village with shops and restaurants as well as numerous hiking trails, the small town has been attracting a wide range of day-trippers and weekend warriors for quite some time.
Those former visitors are settling down—and driving up home prices. The Hudson Valley town had been receiving an influx of new residents tired of New York City prices for several years now, and the pandemic has turbocharged the trend. Both second-home buyers and full-time relocators have been buying up houses like this $519,000 five-bedroom, which is asking $200,000 more than the last time it was sold, and this four-bedroom raised ranch listed at $400,000.
Median listing price: $270,000
Percentage increase: 32.5%
The sunbirds are multiplying exponentially this year. A lot of Northerners—especially New Yorkers—working remotely have chosen to flock to sunny South Florida rather than shelter in their shoebox apartments. All of Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties have seen a surge in home sales, but Delray Beach, the culinary capital of the Gold Coast, has experienced the biggest growth.
This fall, single-family home sales in the beachside burb have increased to their highest level year over year in the past half-decade. Condo sales have exploded as well.
Folks seeking a winter crash pad have been flocking toward fully renovated condos, such as this $329,900 two-bedroom flip that went for $215,000 earlier this year along with expansive homes surrounded by large private yards such as this $610,000 three-bedroom that was sold for just $192,000 back in 2011.
6. Jasper, GA
Median listing price: $259,900
Percentage increase: 32.2%
Just an hour’s drive from Atlanta, this little mountain town feels like it’s on another planet. With an easy-living, country vibe, the area has been a hotbed for second-home owners for most of the past decade. However, as COVID-19 has left office workers free to telecommute, there have been far more buyers than homes for sale in this affordable getaway—which has driven the prices up astronomically.
“We have a lot of people moving in from New York, New Jersey, California, and Florida,” says Lydia Spink, a Realtor® with Century 21 Lindsey & Pauley. “Now that they can work from home, they’d rather be in the county versus the city, and away from all the hoopla and drama.”
This lovely five-bedroom Cape Cod that was sold for $255,000 in 2017 is now on the market for $399,900, and this traditional five-bedroom that screams adult summer camp is asking $50,000 more than it fetched earlier this year.
Median listing price: $2,500,000
Percentage increase: 30.9%
Of all the Phoenix metro suburbs, Paradise Valley is by far the richest, with the highest median incomes in the city. The area is home to doctors, professional athletes, and CEOs who reside in expansive estates like this $7.5 million five-bedroom with mountain views and this $2.5 million seven-bedroom with a 1,700-square-foot casita, saltwater pool, outdoor kitchen, and just about anything else one could want in a mansion.
Because land in the high-end enclave is getting scarcer and demand is so high, the price of resale homes keeps going up and up—which is getting even more pressure from the large number of transplants moving in from pricier ZIP codes.
“Maricopa County has been one of the most moved-to areas in the United States for a long time now with money coming in from California, Seattle, and even the East Coast,” says Marta Walsh, a Realtor with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty. “If you cashed out a big house in San Jose, prices here look quite reasonable even if looking for a $3 million or $4 million house.”
8. Brandon, MS
Median listing price: $220,100
Percentage increase: 27.3%
Before physical distancing became the modus operandi for the world, this Jackson suburb was known for its shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. Its outdoor amphitheater would get packed with concertgoers jamming to beloved acts like Kenny Chesney and Willie Nelson. But it also has a lot to offer folks who are attempting to remain 6 feet apart from others, with lots of parks and a reservoir that offers boating, fishing, and waterskiing.
So, with the current low interest rates and interest in suburban living, its housing market hasn’t been able to keep pace with the number of folks who want to buy. Homes across the spectrum have been getting snatched up, like this $182,500 three-bedroom all the way up to this seven-bedroom on nearly 5 acres listed at $725,000.
“We’ve got a lot of different price points, with brand-new homeowners just getting started and also folks moving and building their dream homes,” says Brooke Witcher, a Realtor with Hopper Properties.
9. Roanoke, TX
Median listing price: $405,000
Percentage increase: 26.9%
Roanoke is a quintessential suburb with a historic downtown that is normally home to a seasonal concert series, an annual fall festival, and, yes, a Christmas parade. For quite some time, it’s been attracting the kind of folks who want to buy a brand-new house. The area has tons of well-designed, ready-to-build options ranging from a nice three-bedroom model starting in the mid-$300,000s right on up to a French-inspired four-bedroom that starts just above $600,000.
10. Wayzata, MN
Median listing price: $877,000
Percentage increase: 26.1%
Wayzata has some of the highest home prices in the western suburbs of Minneapolis. Stretching around Wayzata Bay, the tree-covered suburb is a favorite among families for its thriving downtown, beautiful nature preserves, and outdoor activities. Since the initial shutdown, the housing market has been going gangbusters with house hunters picking up large, decked-out homes such as this dreamy four-bedroom with an amusement room on a wooded lot adjacent to walking trails on the market for $685,000.
To get their offer accepted, Realtors such as Chad Strand of Re/Max Results have been advising buyers to bid a minimum of $25,000 above the asking price, especially on homes priced below $500,000, including this four-bedroom listed for $499,900, which went under contract in less than a week on the market.