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2.6 million people moved in with their parents amid COVID-19: Study

Bellhop CEO Luke Marklin joins Yahoo Finance's Zack Guzman to discuss how more millenials are returning home while others rush from cities to the suburbs amid COVID-19.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: But we've seen an interesting a trend playing out here in 2020. Perhaps if you're a millennial or if you know one in your life, this is a trend that you've seen already. But interesting new data coming out from Pew shows that the share of millennials moving back to home with their parents has spiked to a level we have not seen since the Great Depression.

In July, it was 52% of young adults going back to live with their parents. That was up from 47% in February. And now I want to chat that trend because it is something here that seems to be continuing the longer and longer we ride out this pandemic. And joining us now to discuss that is Luke Marklin, Bellhop CEO, the CEO of a very large moving company.

And Luke, appreciate you coming back on with us. I mean, talk to me about what you're seeing play out. Is that something that you guys are seeing on the frontlines that millennials are, indeed, moving back home with Mom and Dad?

LUKE MARKLIN: We are indeed seeing it. And Zack, thanks for having us back. Thanks for having me back. You know, when you do that percent change of the population, that ends up being over 2.6 million millennials have moved back home with their parents this year.

And that's a core demographic for us. And we've seen a corresponding pretty big spike, really middle of this year and into the end of this year, of millennials moving back home, moving from kind of urban apartments back to suburban homes.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, that's a trend even outside of the millennial subset. That seems to be a trend that we've seen play out across all age groups, is kind of this idea of, if we're going to be in lockdown or this pandemic is going to carry on for quite some time, why am I in the city right now? Are you seeing that outside of millennials as well?

LUKE MARKLIN: Absolutely. It's not only outside of millennials. It's not isolated to any specific area of the country. It's really a country-- a nationwide trend. Not only are we seeing people move to the suburbs, we're actually seeing people move long distance.

And we're seeing that part of our business really surge. I think Redfin has data that says, like, an astounding almost 30% of people who are homebuyers now are looking to move out of cities.

We're seeing people-- the biggest cities that people are moving out of are ones you may have guessed-- New York, Chicago, DC. Those are our big three cities that people are moving out of. And they're moving to cities like Atlanta, Nashville, and Raleigh.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, the data you guys had in terms of move-outs in New York from the months, the really hard hit months, was kind of staggering to see the same number for Chicago. I mean, if that's where they're moving out of, is it all a flight to the suburbs? Or is it just from one city to another city in terms of these moves?

LUKE MARKLIN: Yeah, it's definitely a mix. And we see definitely the direction is beginning in the urban core and moving out. You know, we're seeing a portion of those moves stop in the 'burbs. But we're seeing, you know, the largest portion of our business, the fastest growing portion of our business is long distance.

And that's a trend that is really was not impacted at all by the quarantine periods, by COVID. It just-- long distance continued to grow and get bigger and bigger for us, as people are re-evaluating their life choices and rethinking where they need to live.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, I mean, those numbers are, to me, are just staggering because it's something that we've seen, obviously, in New York. But when you think about that 155% increase in long distance moves out of New York City in May to September, it's just a huge number. And that's something we've been talking about.

But the seasonality is also a big piece of this as well, since I imagine, you know, 2020 is a unique year. So how have you seen that play out in terms of how it's not just a traditional year with moves in those warmer months or around the college years as well?

LUKE MARKLIN: Well, needless to say, I hope this is not a traditional year going forward. But what we saw beginning of the year during, really, the early parts of the quarantine period was a 40% to 50% year over year decrease in overall moving volume. Really, the whole industry got hit.

And then, as almost as fast as it went down, it rallied back. And now where, typically, the end of the moving season is around Labor Day and most people are kind of set in their home for their kids' school, we've seen that trend continue and demand has continued to surge.

And so we're feeling, one, pent-up demand. People that didn't move are now moving. And we're also seeing the tailwinds from people re-evaluating where they want to live [AUDIO OUT] and moving out to the [? suburbs. ?]

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, so I mean that flight to the suburbs seems like there's no end in sight, at least in terms of the data that you're seeing right now. Because a lot of people want to say, look, the worst is over, and things are going to improve. But it doesn't seem to be the case.

Lastly, if you are seeing demand like that spike, I mean, how are you as a company being able to grow your team to make sure you can meet that demand since I don't think a lot of people expected the surge that we're seeing play out right now?

LUKE MARKLIN: Well, it's always a challenge. But I think we're in the best position in the industry to handle it. You know, we've built the company on technology. Tech really powers the business versus human process.

We're a modern company, built in the 21st century, not like the industry status quo. So fortunately, we're able to grow and not need to hire a bunch of new people. Really, this is playing into our hand.