Well this is interesting, yet not surprising: According to RBC’s annual “Home Ownership Poll”, three out of every five respondents (so nearly 60%) said that location is more important than buying a larger home. Now, there’s only so much you can glean from a single survey question, but the overarching sense is that people’s home-buying attitudes are now starting to revert back to pre-pandemic levels.
Other evidence includes how quickly urban residential rents/prices have bounced back and, in many cases, now exceed their pre-pandemic levels. Below is a chart from the WSJ showing residential net-effective median rent prices in Manhattan. The low came in November 2020 when the median rent price hit $2,743 per month. But today it is well over $3,500, which is the highest it has been in a decade.
Certain aspects of how we will continue to live and work in our cities is admittedly still evolving (see my recent post on office utilization). But part of our pandemic narrative was that location was no longer going to matter, or at least not matter nearly as much. New York City, to give just one example, had died forever. But that was obviously bullshit. And what we are seeing in the residential space is an important leading indicator. Location always matters.