The shift to working from home drove more than half of the increase in house and rent prices during the pandemic and will likely drive up costs and inflation going forward as the shift becomes permanent, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
“The transition to remote work because of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a key driver of the recent surge in housing prices,” economists Augustus Kmetz and John Mondragon, of the San Francisco Fed, and Johannes Wieland of the University of California, San Diego, wrote in a note published Monday.
House prices rose 24% in the two years ended November 2021, the authors wrote. More than 60% of that increase is attributable to the rise in work from home during the pandemic -- a trend that has persisted, with 30% of work still being done from home as of last month.
“This suggests that the fundamentals of housing demand have changed, such that the persistence of remote work is likely to affect the future path of real estate prices and inflation,” the economists wrote.
The authors, who adjusted housing data to account for the migration from expensive cities to more affordable areas that occurred during the pandemic, found that each 1 percentage point increase in remote work results in about a 0.9 percentage point increase in house prices. The impact on rent prices has been identical.