Are Homebuyers Fleeing To The Suburbs?

Performance Property Real Estate Question

There’s a new Rutgers University report that claims that suburban population growth is outpacing urban population growth, If that’s true, what does that mean for real estate? Cindy, Bloomfield, NJ

A: According to the Rutgers Regional Report, “The Burbs Bounce Back,” after years of mostly urban growth, Census estimates for 2017 show that suburban population growth has surpassed that of urban areas. This is driven by many different factors including rising home prices and rents in urban areas and the fact that Millenials are starting new families and want more space.

It’s important to put this report into perspective and look beyond the headline and general narrative as these kinds of reports often overgeneralize. For example, suburban areas that offer walkable downtowns and rail access to NYC are more attractive than other outlying areas that lack these features. Also, the report cites a couple of years of data which is not enough to establish a major trend.

The fact is that real estate more than anything else comes down to supply and demand–demand is high in some urban areas but not so much in other urban areas and the same is true for suburban areas as well–there is a vast difference between demand for housing in Northern New Jersey suburbs than in South Jersey suburbs for example. I’m not sure the important distinction is really about suburban vs. urban at all particularly when you consider that there are suburban elements in urban areas like parks and urban elements like high end retail in suburban areas as well. I think what has happened is that demand has bi-furicated–it’s not one homogeneous trend toward urban or suburban but dual trends that offer more options depending on your household size, income, personal preferences, job location etc.

Thanks for your question, Cindy. For more real estate information and tips visit my blog at