Suburban homeowners who have profited from the urban exodus during the pandemic are leaving small-town life behind to find out what they have been missing.

Kelly Shoul and Alex White spent years trying to get out of their house in York, Pa., only to be told repeatedly by real estate brokers that their only option was to sell at a loss. But when Covid-19 hit and upended the market, they were able to not just sell their home, they could make $30,000 in the process.

Ms. Shoul, 30, and Mr. White, 32, bought their three-bedroom, two-bath house in 2016 for $132,000. The headaches of homeownership began almost immediately. A blocked septic pipe flooded their basement. The water heater broke. They discovered not one but two layers of botched linoleum tiling beneath their floorboards.

“Within the first year we realized we wanted to sell,” said Mr. Shoul, who estimates that in addition to sacrificing most of his weekends to home repairs for the past four years, the couple also spent between $10,000 and $15,000 on fixes, not counting nearly $35,000 in damage that was covered by home insurance.


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