Hottest US Home Real Estate Markets for 2021: Where People Are Going, and Why

The residential real estate market is finally beginning to normalize, or perhaps finding a new normal is a better way to understand it. Some interesting new real estate markets top the “hottest housing” lists, and a look under the hood reveals some intriguing trends driving home buying as a whole.

Here are some of the hottest residential real estate markets in America for the first half of 2021, along with a brief look at why they’re thriving.

Want to Get Away?

Many buyers are embracing the opportunity to relocate to cities more commonly known as vacation destinations:

  • Coeur d’Alene, ID – The median home sales price is up 47% to $476,900 in March, with extremely tight supply and competitive bidding for limited listings.

  • Billings, MT – The average sale price in the first three months of 2021 jumped to $322,537, an increase of $31,000 over the average 2020 sale price.

  • Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA – In a market where homes have a lofty median listing price of $1.2 million, they are moving on average a month faster than typical for the broader US market.

What’s causing the shift to these communities? In the wake of the pandemic, people want to be closer to the outdoors and away from crowds.. There’s also a wave of earners cashing out of the rat race early to more fully enjoy their active years, or working remotely. Some want a second home that can be listed on Airbnb when they’re at their primary residence.

Close, but Not too Close

Home buyers are looking to move away from big cities, into smaller satellite communities that offer a compromise between urban and rural living:

  • Springfield, OH – Within an hour’s reach of Dayton and Columbus, the median home price of $144,900 is substantially more affordable than in those cities

  • Concord, NH – Located about an hour north of Boston, the median home price of $362,450 is almost half that of the Boston metro area.

The pandemic is also motivating the run-up in these real estate markets. Some families are eager to get away from cities that seem too big, crowded, and dangerous. Others are simply eager to take advantage of lower prices, while still being within reach of familiar urban comforts. The COVID-driven shift to remote working across a spectrum of industries is making relocation possible.

Littlest Big Cities

Some outlying cities are proving attractive to buyers, despite being smaller and relatively remote compared to other urban locales:

  • Reno, NV – The median sale price for March was $515,000, which is a double-digit month-over-month spike and an all time high.

  • Spokane, WA – An influx of buyers from West Coast states has caused the median home price to jump nearly 20%, and inventory is tightening.

The primary driver here: affordability. These cities still have abundant, affordable housing: buyers who’ve been locked out of other markets are finding these cities a reasonable alternative. These cities also feature established urban amenities and diverse employment markets.

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