Zoom Towns and the New Housing Market for the 2 Americas
Truckee, Calif., is a mountain town just northwest of Lake Tahoe. It is sort of an outdoorsy paradise. It has great skiing, mountain biking and hiking opportunities, as well as a river and lakes. It also has some great restaurants and a budding art scene. And if you’re a Bay Area resident in the market for a house, it has another thing going for it: It has a median home price that’s roughly half that of San Francisco, about three hours away.
Like a lot of other vacation destinations — the Hamptons, Cape Cod, Aspen and so on — the Truckee housing market is booming during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s up over 23% since last year, according to data from Redfin, a real estate brokerage. Truckee is part of a trend that realtors and journalists are calling “Zoom towns,” places that are booming as remote work takes off.
But Zoom towns aren’t the only places where home prices are booming. Pretty much everywhere except Manhattan and San Francisco — places where home prices had already reached historic peaks — it’s a great time if you want to sell your house. “Right now, national home prices are up 8% from this time last year, so quite a big increase,” says Daryl Fairweather, the chief economist of Redfin.
With historic levels of unemployment and mounting business bankruptcies, this housing boom is a bit mind-boggling. But it’s kind of the perfect symbol of two Americas in the age of the pandemic recession.
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Originally published on npr.org September 8, 2020