The COVID-era housing market brought a new spin to that traditional real estate refrain “Drive ‘til you qualify.” During the mid-2000s housing boom, it was a way for buyers on smaller budgets to afford homes, albeit with a longer commute. With the advent of remote work during the pandemic, buyers began to move farther out in search of more square footage and outdoor space in the suburbs without needing to worry about a drive to the office. But now that companies are asking workers to return to the office, will that trend reverse itself? In The Builder’s Daily, John McManus analyzes the underlying data and suggests that hybrid work patterns may result in suburban growth within striking distance of major metros.

“Here’s a big question mark,” he writes. “Are we all set on whether the hybrid in-office, work from anywhere current state is a blip or trend? Or maybe it’s a trend that was in the works, but is now sped up? At any rate, will there be winners and losers in real estate based on heavy betting one way or another? You bet.”

Along with outlying suburbs, the appeal of “smile states” and small-town living may drive growth in Florida, Texas, California, and other secondary and tertiary markets, McManus says. Developers placing their bets on either the suburbs or smaller markets should be familiar with the capabilities of propane systems for both custom homes and large communities as developable land pushes farther out past natural gas lines.

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