Return-to-office mandates are forcing many homeowners to make an uncomfortable decision: sell their homes or lose their jobs.

About 10% of U.S. home sellers are moving because they’re being called back into the office, according to a new survey conducted on behalf of Redfin. Many of these people will sell their homes at a substantial loss.

“My sellers both work at the same company, which told them they have to be in the office three days a week or they’ll lose their jobs. They have six months to make the move,” said real estate agent Shauna Pendleton. “They’ll probably have to take a $100,000 loss on their home.”

While most sellers cited other reasons for wanting to move—such as needing more space, proximity to family, or a lower cost of living—return-to-office mandates are a growing cause of relocation, Redfin said.

The not-so-great office migration

Millions of office workers are like Pendleton’s clients—their employers have asked them to return to the office on a hybrid or full-time basis. Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan have all recently implemented some form of return-to-office mandates.

A survey of 1,000 executives by Resume Builder found that 90% of companies plan to have their workers back in the office by the end of 2024. Only 2% said their company has no plans to ever return.

While many experts saw the return to office as inevitable once Covid ended, many employees uprooted their entire lives thanks to the flexibility remote work offered.

According to the San Francisco Fed, home prices rose by 24% between November 2019 and November 2021—more than 60% of that increase was attributed to remote work.

Remote work allowed more people to move away from city centers and into the suburbs, where they enjoyed more space, better value, and quieter neighborhoods. Some remote workers bought homes in other parts of the country where real estate prices were more affordable.

Although home prices continue to rise, being forced to sell prematurely increases the likelihood of losing money, especially for properties purchased within the last three years.

Unfortunately, the problems don’t end there.

The hidden cost of moving right now

Forced sellers face another problem: elevated mortgage rates make it more difficult to purchase another home.

Remote workers who bought homes during the pandemic locked in at a sub-3% mortgage rate for 30 years. Now, the same 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is greater than 7%. All the while, median home prices have risen sharply across the country.

According to, eight out of ten homeowners feel “locked-in” by their existing mortgage. This so-called “golden handcuff effect” has contributed to a sharp decline in home sales and dragged the housing supply to its lowest level in more than two decades.

The spike in mortgage rates is unlikely to reverse anytime soon. According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reached a new 23-year high of 7.31% last week. Three years ago, the same 30-year rate was 2.88%.

The rental market isn’t much better, either. The median national rent has topped $2,000, with some of the most desirable cities seeing a 30% year-over-year spike.

“Housing is getting less affordable for everyone at every level,” says Daryl Fairweather, the chief economist for Redfin.