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Suburbia Isn’t Cheaper Than Urban Anymore

Those searching for the more affordable white picket fence may be better off renovating their uptown condo and staying put.

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Since 2019, home prices have jumped more than 25% per square foot in the United States, with urban homes costing more than per square foot back in 2019. Today, suburban homes are closing that gap. In fact, there is only a 7% difference in square foot cost between the two types, according to a new data analysis by Realtor.com. 

Homes are selling faster too. Urban and suburban homes sell at about the same rate, with the average urban home spending almost five weeks on the market, and its suburban counterpart taking two days longer. With fewer homes available for sale, and the increased workplace flexibility for many home buyers, these trends are likely to remain. 

The sentiment of home buyers and sellers is pretty clear. Homes in suburbia are considered “wild unaffordable,” “mistakes,” as many bought homes with leaks, rot, and damage in their haste to secure a home. 

Is this trend limited to suburbs outside the biggest metros? The answer seems to be no. A study by Bloomberg notes 91% of suburbs saw growth over the last two years overall, merely accelerating a preexisting condition. Some examples include Hudson, N.Y., which gained almost twice as many people as it lost, as well as towns in New Kent County, Va., Elbert County, Colo., and Waller County, Texas. 

Many of the most stressful places to buy homes in the United States right now are actually small towns in the most unexpected areas, and with existing market conditions the trend is unlikely to change. 

Home listings in suburban areas have gone up almost 20% in a single year, says data from realtor.com.

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Where are North Americans feeling unhappy about suburbia? Basically, everywhere. Dark states/provinces indicate where negative sentiment is particularly strong about the challenges of buying a home in a suburb or small town. 

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What does the conversation around homes in suburbs look like? Generally negative - as you can see from this selection of social media comments from 2021. 

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