Evidence mounts that high-end sales powered pandemic market

Survey shows wealthier buyers have come on strong this year


Home shopping has shifted noticeably during the pandemic, drawing a pool of buyers with fatter wallets and favoring sellers of pricier properties.

One in four homes bought between April and June was priced at $500,000 or more, up from 14 percent during the preceding nine months, according to a National Association of Realtors analysis, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The median household income of buyers also increased significantly, hitting $110,800, compared with $94,400 for pre-pandemic buyers.

“The buyers who purchase during Covid want a larger home,” Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at NAR, told the Journal. “There’s certainly more homes being purchased that are expensive.”

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The numbers stem from a survey of more than 8,000 people who bought primary homes in the 12 months ending in June. The data confirms other reports that higher-end homes made up a much larger than usual share of sales during the initial months of the pandemic.

In New Jersey, for example, between January to September, 595 homes priced north of $2.5 million went into contract, up 67 percent year-over-year, according to Matawan, New Jersey-based appraisal firm Otteau Group.

The volume of contracts on New Jersey homes priced between $1 million and $2.5 million also surged, climbing 40 percent year-over-year. The increase was 31 percent for $600,000-to-$999,999 homes and 26 percent for $400,000-to-$599,000 homes.

Contract signings for New Jersey homes cheaper than that actually fell, by 4 percent.

The data also show home buying became less attainable, largely because of increasing prices, according to the NAR report. First-time buyers made up 31 percent of primary-home buyers in the year ended in June, a notch below the 33 percent in the previous year and even further below the historical norm of 40 percent.

[WSJ] — Sasha Jones