Zillow Group Population Science Homeowner Survey: Q1 2021

By Edward Berchick on Apr. 6, 2021

Zillow Group Population Science’s first quarterly survey of homeowners probed their intentions to sell their home and move, their reasons for moving or not moving and the resources they expect to use (if moving within the next few years). Homeowners were also asked about the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on their moving intentions.

Highlights from the Q1 2021 Survey:

  • About 14% of homeowners say they are considering selling their home within the next three years. 
  • Younger homeowners are more likely to be considering selling soon than their older peers.
  • Homeowners are confident they can sell on their timeline and for a profit in this market.
  • The pandemic is influencing many decisions to both move and not move — especially considerations around dedicated work-from-home space — but so are more traditional drivers like changing family sizes.

Moving intentions

About 14% of homeowners say they are considering selling their home within the next three years. Of this group:


A higher share of young adults aged 40 or younger (22%) are considering selling and moving within the next three years than older adults (12%). Of younger adults considering a move:


Reasons for moving/not moving

A desire for an upgraded space and/or dedicated home office space, the prospect of financial gains, commute considerations and changing family structures were among the main reasons homeowners considered moving. Of those homeowners considering selling within the next 3 years:

  • 50% said their desire for an upgraded home with nicer features influenced their decision. 
  • 26% cited a need/desire for home office space as a reason for considering a move
  • 19% said that their commute is a reason (Note: People considering their commute likely include both those who anticipate working from home and will no longer prioritize proximity to an office, and people who are currently or anticipate soon working from an office and want to reduce their commute time).
  • 39% said they are doing so because they expect to get more money for their home now than in the future.
  • 26% said a growing family influenced their decision to sell and move; 40% said their family getting smaller did the same (families may grow through marriage, childbirth, adoption and/or having a parent or child move in; families may get smaller through divorce, widowhood and/or older children moving out).

A quarter  (26%) of homeowners NOT considering selling their home within the next three years cited concerns around their ability to find and/or afford a new home.

  • A similar share (24%) cited current life uncertainty as a reason to not consider moving within the next three years.

Next homes and locations

Movers are likely to stay close to their prior home, many expect to spend more on their new place than they earn from the sale of their prior home, and large majorities of would-be buyers will use a real estate website/app, tech tools and/or an agent. Of those homeowners considering selling within the next 3 years:

  • Most homeowners stay within 50 miles of their prior home (77% in 2018-2019), according to a Zillow analysis of U.S. Census data, but:

  • About 43% of homeowners considering selling anticipate spending more on their next home than they expect to make from selling their current home.
  • 80% of homeowners who plan to sell and move to a new home within the next 3 years are likely to use a real estate website or app. Almost all (93%) are likely to use a real estate agent.
    • Most are open to using virtual home tours and virtual closing services: only 25% and 36% say that they are not at all likely or not very likely to use them, respectively. 

Market confidence

Large majorities of current homeowners are confident in both their ability to sell within their preferred time frame and sell for a profit.

  • 88% of homeowners said they are somewhat, quite, very, or almost completely confident they could sell their home within their preferred time frame if they listed it for sale
  • 90% said they are somewhat, quite, very, or almost completely confident they could sell their home for a profit if they listed it for sale.

The COVID Effect

Roughly 1-in-8 homeowners said COVID-19 impacted their decision to move, with about twice as many saying it made them more likely to move as less likely. Widespread vaccine distribution will increase the comfort level of a meaningful share of homeowners considering moving. And remote work is influencing many decisions.

  • A small majority (52%) of homeowners say they are comfortable moving to a new home now, and roughly two-thirds (64%) say they will be comfortable moving after widespread vaccine distribution.
  • 14% of homeowners say that COVID-19 impacted their decision to move. Of this group:

  • According to the Census Bureau, 39% of adults live in a household where at least one person has started full- or part-time remote work as a result of the pandemic. Among homeowners that work remotely at least 1 day a week:


These analyses use data from a new, quarterly ZG Population Science survey of homeowners using a repeated cross-sectional design. Homeowners who did not move within the last 12 months were eligible for participation. The Q1 2021 survey was fielded during the first two weeks of March 2021 and included 1,827 homeowner respondents.

To achieve national representativeness, quotas for age, education, sex, region, race, and marital status limited oversampling of any given demographic group. In addition to using quotas for respondent sampling, ZG Population Science weighted the sample to the overall U.S. population using the U.S. Census Bureau 2019 American Community Survey using these same characteristics.