According to a recent report published by Zillow, the recent rise in remote work, which has resulted from COVID-19, has affected the housing industry in interesting ways. Zillow data shows that among American renters, Black renters are 29% more likely than other renters in large metro areas to "be able to buy their first home in a less expensive area," thanks to the rise in remote work opportunities.
Zillow arrived at this conclusion based on careful analysis, which was based on criteria including telling factors such as household income, the makeup of local industries, and geography, among others.
The Zillow report showed that almost 2 million American renters who are able to take advantage of increased remote work opportunities could now afford the current monthly payments on homes in more affordable areas outside of their current cities. Among these 2 million telecommuting renters, Black renters appear to have more opportunities to purchase starter homes in affordable areas due to "having relatively low income levels, pricing them out of where they currently live," yet still earning enough to afford homes in less expensive metros with the help of telecommuting jobs.
However, the opportunities for remote work depends on the market. In Baltimore, Black households earning $30,000 to $40,000 annually have an edge because their primary breadwinners are more likely to work in industries that are considered to more remote-friendly, such as educational services and public administration.
The Zillow report also states, however, that white and Asian renters are much more likely to work in more remote-friendly industries like finance, insurance, and technology. For these renters, their incomes usually allow them to purchase homes in their current metro areas. While remote work may create more opportunities for Black renters to purchase homes in affordable locations, there is still a huge housing affordability issue that people of color must face.
Jonathon Holloway, a federal employee and Maryland renter who recently made an offer on a home in Louisiana, shared his own personal experience with this homebuying trend driven by greater remote work options: “Teleworking has opened up more options for my family. We've made a life here in Maryland, but with two small children being able to purchase a home back in Louisiana and be closer to my parents and our extended family is just what we need.”
Holloway added, “With everything that has happened this year, it makes you stop and realize what is really important. And for us, that's family. Without the ability to telework, we might not have been able to make this transition."