October 19, 2020
The coronavirus has caused a modern urban exodus of sorts, as people flee major city centers for less crowded areas where the risk of catching the virus may be lower. Nearly one-third of Americans have considered moving to a less densely populated area according to USA Today, and CNBC reports that searches on Realtor.com for suburban homes jumped 13 percent in May.
Though city centers are not expected to fully empty, a mini-migration could still create opportunities for businesses and investors. Here are five publicly traded companies that could benefit from the shift in where people want to live.
Zillow Group Inc. (Tii:Z)
The internet has become the preferred medium for home searches, and Zillow is perfectly positioned to take advantage. The home and rental search platform is a beast in the space, with annual revenues of $2.7 billion last year. As more people search for new homes online, Zillow has the resources to build out its platform for the increased demand.
Redfin Corporation (Tii:RDFN)
One of Zillow’s competitors, Redfin is also well-positioned to capture some of the growing online home search market. At about $779 million in revenue last year, Redfin is much smaller than Zillow is right now. The smaller size leaves more room for potential growth, though.
You might not be familiar with the name AMERCO, but its ticker symbol should tip you off to one of the conglomerate’s major holdings. AMERCO is the owner of U-Haul, a well-known moving truck rental company. Many of the people fleeing cities will likely want a DIY move for financial and/or exposure reasons, and a lot of them will go to U-Haul for a truck. AMERCO will also give you exposure to insurance and other companies.
Lemonade, Inc. (Tii:LMND)
As people move, they will need to get renters insurance (or at least should). While Lemonade, Inc. isn’t the largest property and casualty insurance company, it’s one that’s growing and has an impressive presence online. The company particularly targets people shopping for insurance online, meaning that many people who are moving should see Lemonade’s renters' insurance ads. If these ads convert well, the company could see a surge in new policyholders. Moreover, renters insurance isn’t the only product that Lemonade, Inc. offers. Once people sign up for a renters policy, the company can suggest its auto insurance, pet insurance and other insurance policies.
Tesla Inc. (Tii:TSLA)
Tesla may not be an obvious pick for an urban exodus, but not everyone who’s leaving the city intends to move back. Some people who are moving to the suburbs intend to stay, and this will change their transportation needs. Specifically, they’ll need cars. While there are many car companies to choose from, Tesla already has a lot of good things going for it and could be particularly well-suited for the demographic that’s moving. The people leaving cities have a certain income level, so they’ll generally be able to afford a Tesla. Many are also younger professionals who care about the environment, and an electric car could perfectly meet their needs. With a home, they’ll have a place to install a charging station and little reason not to buy one of the company’s models.
No one knows exactly how this pandemic will play out, but these companies might be well-positioned to capitalize on the trend away from downtown centers. Consider how you see the situation evolving and learn more about the brands that stand to benefit.