How the Coronavirus Pandemic Has Shaped Minnesota’s Rural Housing Market

Updated: Apr 27

It’s no secret the coronavirus pandemic has impacted many facets of our lives. Businesses and much of the population have had to find new and innovative ways to pivot in response to COVID-19. While many industries in the U.S. suffered through economic shutdowns, the housing market remained open and busier than ever. Throughout the last several months, new housing trends have started to emerge. Perhaps one of the most surprising is the recent rural rebound movement.

What is the Rural Rebound Movement?

The rural rebound movement, also known as the Great American Migration of 2020, is a departure of city-dwellers to the country. So, why are people moving to rural areas? There are various factors, but many experts agree that the coronavirus pandemic has played a major role. Before the first wave of the virus hit last March, American migration was reported at a 73-year low. Census statistics show that just 9.3% of the population changed locations annually.

Since the pandemic began, the national housing market has seen significant growth, with sales data indicating much of that growth has taken place in rural markets. Bankrate reported that the number of mortgages obtained for homes in non-urban areas increased by 36% in 2020. This data, as well as that reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), suggest that more buyers are looking to trade the hustle and bustle of city life for a more laid-back lifestyle offered by rural areas and small towns.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Housing Market

As of November 2020, Minnesota experienced a nearly 10% increase in home sales over the previous year. Much of that increase was in rural parts of the state, as well as known vacation areas like the North Shore of Lake Superior.

“...Consumers [are] buying second homes in rural areas, especially cabins, with funds they would have used on trips — especially foreign travel — pre-COVID,” says Chris Ghaller, CEO of the Minnesota Association of Realtors (MAR).

Located in the heart of lakes country, Fergus Falls is one of the rural areas that has experienced an uptick in home sales since the pandemic began. “The housing market in our area, like the rest of the United States, has seen record numbers of home sales in 2020,” confirms Ryan Hanson, a local realtor