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Economics

Urban Exiles Are Fueling a Suburban Housing Boom Across the U.S.

Low mortgage rates and the emerging Covid-era lifestyle spark a surge in demand in California’s Inland Empire and other bedroom communities.

People lined up to purchase homes in the ShadeTree development by Landsea Homes in Ontario, Calif., on Aug. 15.

People lined up to purchase homes in the ShadeTree development by Landsea Homes in Ontario, Calif., on Aug. 15.

Photographer: Molly Peters for Bloomberg Businessweek

Homebuilder Jimmy Previti’s sales haven’t been this strong since last decade’s housing boom. And that makes him nervous.

His home turf, the Inland Empire, 45 miles from densely populated Los Angeles, is at the center of a suburban land rush. In the Covid era, the single-family houses that are the stock in trade for Previti’s Frontier Communities are a hot commodity. Armed with the lowest mortgage rates in history, buyers are increasingly shunning urban centers, settling instead where they can live at a safe distance from their neighbors. “Is this the little runup before everything runs off the rails?” asks Previti, chief executive officer of Frontier. “Nobody can tell.”