The Kansas City area wasn’t a national magnet for population growth during the height of the pandemic. The Northland, however, boomed as homebuyers — largely from the metro area — sought plentiful land and cheaper real estate.

“More people actually (are) relocating from the south to the north, which is odd,” said Chris Fosgate, a Realtor and broker with Keller Williams Kansas City North. “People in Johnson County didn’t want to cross the river north, even go to the airport — heaven forbid. That stigma has changed a bit now.”

The Northland’s growth is evident at Benson Place, a 1,300-home subdivision Hunt Midwest developed in Kansas City’s Shoal Creek Valley. It features townhomes and single-family residences between $550,000 and $675,000.

The quickly filling project has two community swimming pools, a fishing lake, a playground and walking trails — amenities that exploded in popularity during the pandemic as families looked for ways to occupy themselves at home. 

Multiple Listing Service data indicated that Northland housing inventory increased 4% from last year, compared with 2.9% for the entire metro area, Fosgate said. Much of the activity was driven by homebuilding: Permits in 2020 and 2021 surpassed prepandemic years.

The Northland was primed for an influx of homebuilding about six years prior, when Kansas City added sewer and utilities infrastructure to the 13,000-acre Twin Creeks area, a swath of what had been farmland in Platte and Clay counties between Interstate 29 and U.S. Highway 169.