When it comes to figuring out where people want to live, online real estate listing search patterns are a great way to identify patterns in buyer preferences. In 2021, although most markets were “hot” and buyers were looking for any inventory to buy that they could get their hands on, certain markets still led the pack. One of those markets was Savannah, Georgia, which online brokerage Redfin found was particularly attractive to buyers, relatively affordable, and well-suited to first-time homebuyers. Only three markets in the country ranked higher than Savannah, and none in the southeast outranked the city.
“One reason these locations are particularly attractive to first-time buyers is the median home price,” observed Washington Post contributor Michele Lerner. She also noted that the “rise of remote work before and during the pandemic gives people more flexibility” in terms of where they ultimately decide to live. Given that nearly a third of all Redfin users looking online during early 2021 were looking outside of their current metro area (this is the highest this metric has been since Redfin started tracking it in 2017), knowing where people are hoping to move is more important for investors than ever, particularly if your portfolio includes “starter homes,” often referred to as “bread-and-butter” homes, that are usually three-bedroom/two-bathroom combinations that appeal to first-time homebuyers.
“For the first-time homebuyer in this generation, the issue of affordability is front and center, and that is especially true for many millennials who moved to big cities to start and build their careers,” observed George Ratiu, senior economist at Realtor.com. He cited student debt, slow-growing wages, and rising home prices as factors forcing these young professionals out of their current locations. When a market is both well-suited for first-time buyers and appealing to would-be homeowners looking to move, the combination can be “magic” for investors as well as those looking to make a retail purchase. Savannah, Georgia, fits the bill perfectly.
Savannah’s home inventory, while limited like much of the rest of the country, is slightly looser than most markets with 13.1 listings per 1,000 households. “To be clear, this still doesn’t mean there are a ton of homes on the market,” wrote Elena Cox, a data journalist for Realtor.com. However, the addition of a large population of young adults aged 25-34 (nearly 17 percent of the city’s total population), a thriving nightlife scene that is in the process of recovery thanks to many outdoor entertainment venues and options in the temperate climate of Georgia, and a relatively short commute across the city for work or play, Savannah ranks high on the list of accessible, growing markets for 2021.