Zillow CEO: Real estate market is beginning ‘great reshuffling’ as people seek more space at home

Richard ‘Rich’ Barton, co-founder and CEO of Zillow Inc.

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The U.S. real estate market is beginning to show signs of a “great reshuffling,” as people relocate to homes with more privacy and space to ease working from home, Zillow CEO Rich Barton said on the company’s Q2 2020 earnings call this week. 

“I believe we are at the dawn of a great reshuffling,” Barton said. “I’m sure I don’t need to spell it out for you because we are all living it, spending an average of nine hours more per day at home. Zoom meetings are changing the way families think about space and privacy. Home offices are in high demand. Backyards are more desirable than parks and gyms. Work-from-home policies are eliminating the commute for many. There’s an endless list of considerations.” 

Millions of people are considering moves for a slew of reasons, mostly to right-size their living spaces or get closer to family, he added. With some employers not expecting to bring workers back into the office until there’s a Covid-19 vaccine, the work-from-home norm could last several more months. 

Companies could also fundamentally change how they want employees in the office. Zillow will offer its employees the option to work remotely at least part time indefinitely, while Twitter and Atlassian have both said employees can work from home indefinitely.

The pandemic also has accelerated trends of people fleeing large, expensive U.S. cities. While home shopping is up everywhere, Barton said the company is seeing a “deceleration of migration” to cities and expects it to accelerate. 

“We are pretty confident that this is going to be a lasting, multiyear meaningful trend,” Barton said. “We can’t call exactly how it’s going to play out from the data yet. But from an intuition supported by some bit of data, it seems like something real.”

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