Relocation buyers, remote workers alter housing market 

Don Fenley 

Relocation buyers have and will continue to fundamentally change the local housing market landscape for the foreseeable future. So far, the most noticeable effect has been a concentration of buyers with higher housing price sensitivities. It has shifted the region to more expensive housing.  

Higher price sensitivity doesn’t always mean more wealth.  If the newcomer is accustomed to $350,000 home prices where they’re moving from local homes listed for $260,000 – that was April’s median listing price – are perceived as a good find. So, many newcomers don’t hesitate paying above list price. That dynamic is one factor that has moved the typical existing home sales price 31% higher in the past three years.  

Another factor is the remote work trend. The pandemic has nudged it from infancy to a labor force staple. In turn, it has raised the expectation of that class of buyers  

Both trends have legs. It’s something sellers, builders and investors have already noted. Expect the preferences and demands from relocation buyers and remote workers to dominate marketing for the foreseeable future.  

Builders and some Realtors report that about half of their sales have been to buyers moving to the area. There’s a lot of anecdotal data about who these buyers are and where they’re coming from, but the plural of anecdote is not data. We know that most newcomers come from within the region and state, even though the conversation is about new residents from New York, California, Washington State, and Florida. 

This subset of buyers can have a housing budget that’s nearly 30% higher than the average for local buyers, according to Market Watch. 

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at