Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, remote work was more a much-coveted privilege than the norm. But now, the labor force is largely working remotely and has been since February or March, when the pandemic first began.
For some workers and their employers, remote work has been a frustrating experience. For others, the flexibility has been liberating, and given the technology available today, many employers are realizing remote work is sustainable for their business. In fact, given the potential cost savings on the employer side, there's a good chance many companies large and small will shift to a fully remote setup even once the pandemic ends and it's safe to congregate in office buildings.
Such arrangements give renters and homebuyers alike a lot more flexibility with where they live. And that, in turn, is fueling the popularity of zoom towns.
What are zoom towns?
Zoom towns are housing markets that are suddenly booming as remote work becomes more mainstream. These towns are generally smaller cities, often in close proximity to amenities like beaches, ski resorts, or other attractions that tend to draw in vacationers.
Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, for example, is becoming an increasingly popular place to live year-round thanks to the pandemic, as are the Hamptons -- a common summertime getaway for New York City residents. These are just a few examples.
Why zoom towns could make for a solid investment
If you're thinking of buying an income property in the near term, you may want to focus on zoom towns. These days, a lot of people are fleeing cities in favor of extra space. And with commuting worries gone, renters and buyers can truly settle down wherever they want.
Now to be clear, zoom towns aren't necessarily a bargain for renters or buyers. Real estate in Martha's Vineyard, for example, comes at a premium. But many soon-to-be former city dwellers used to paying a fortune for housing may have the flexibility to spend generously on a rental or home in an area they'll truly enjoy living in, which makes the case for investing in zoom towns. Furthermore, some of these zoom towns already attract tourists during their prime season, so buying property there opens the door to a few different income streams, such as vacation rentals.
Why you may want to steer clear of zoom towns
Buying in a zoom town may seem like a good idea, but let's not forget that some of these communities may not welcome an influx of people -- renters and buyers who put a strain on these areas' limited resources. As such, there may be zoning restrictions and other hiccups to contend with when buying in a zoom town.
Also, as zoom towns grow in popularity, home prices there are apt to soar. If you can get in right away, you may beat the crunch. But real estate transactions don't happen overnight, and if you don't move quickly, you may end up paying a lot more for a home.
Finally, the coronavirus pandemic won't last forever. Once office buildings reopen and city nightlife resumes, people may seek to return to major metro areas, thereby lowering demand -- and home values -- in zoom towns that suddenly become too remote for comfort.
The Millionacres bottom line
As such, if you're going to invest in a zoom town, do your research and be sure to proceed with caution. While buying in a zoom town may work out, be aware of the ways your investment could backfire.