The Home Building Geography Index (HBGI) developed by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that while the pandemic had an extensive impact on many businesses, housing has been able to weather the economic storm, rebounding quickly from its April slump. The HBGI also highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused a noticeable shift in residential construction from big cities and their surrounding suburbs, to smaller metro areas and even less densely populated areas deemed as ‘exurbs.’ Given large metro areas’ higher susceptibility to the challenges created by the public health crisis of COVID-19 (e.g., social and physical distancing), prospective single-family homebuyers sought less densely populated areas, i.e., suburbs, for housing. Small metro suburbs accounted for the fastest growing geographic areas for single-family construction during the second quarter, up 10.6% on a four-quarter moving average basis. The HBGI, identified small metro suburbs as “outlying counties” of small metro areas (areas with less than one million in population). This was followed by small towns (9.3%), small metro core areas (7.5%) and exurbs (5.6%).
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Suburban Shift for Home Building in Q2 2020