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Homebuyers Leaving Their Hometowns in Search of Affordability

The number of Redfin.com users looking to move to a different part of the country is down 6% from a year earlier—the biggest drop on record—as the overall U.S. housing market remains cool in the face of high mortgage rates and economic uncertainty, according to a new report from Redfin. That’s a significant swing from a year ago at the tail end of the pandemic homebuying boom, when the number of homebuyers looking to relocate rose 23%.

Out-of-town moves are holding up well compared with in-town moves, as the number of Redfin.com users looking to move within their current metro area is down 17%, roughly three times the drop for relocators.

The overall homebuying pie is smaller than it was a year ago—but Americans moving to a new metro make up a bigger piece of that pie than ever before. A record 25.2% of Redfin.com users nationwide are now looking to relocate. That’s up from 22.8% a year earlier and roughly 19% just before the pandemic started.

Out-of-town moves among homebuyers have declined from a year ago because fewer people are moving. Overall home sales dropped 22% from a year earlier in April as elevated mortgage rates and a shortage of inventory deterred buyers.

But out-of-town moves have dropped substantially less than within-metro moves for a few reasons:

  • Many homebuyers leaving their hometown are moving to more affordable areas (Los Angeles to Las Vegas or New York to Tampa, for example).
  • High mortgage rates aren’t as big of a deterrent for someone selling an expensive home and buying a cheaper one.
  • Remote work makes moving feasible for a lot of people.
  • For first-time homebuyers, high mortgage rates may encourage relocation to a different metro area. The ongoing affordability crunch, with high rates and still-high home prices, makes relatively affordable locales attractive.

Florida is the most popular state for relocating homebuyers

Phoenix and Miami are the most popular destinations for Redfin.com users looking for homes in a different part of the country, followed by Las Vegas, Tampa, FL, and Orlando, FL. Five of the top 10 destinations are in Florida, and nearly all are in the Sun Belt. Popularity is determined by net inflow, a measure of how many more Redfin.com users looked to move into an area than leave.

Relatively affordable, warm-weather metro areas with low taxes are typically popular for homebuyers relocating to a different part of the country. They’re especially sought-after destinations for people leaving expensive coastal job centers like Seattle (median sale price: $770,000), which is the most common origin for homebuyers moving to Phoenix ($439,000), and Los Angeles ($830,000), which is the most common origin for those moving to Las Vegas ($400,000).

Florida soared in popularity as the pandemic-driven remote-work trend became the norm, with many Americans moving there for the relatively affordable housing and warmer weather in spite of worsening natural disasters. The Sunshine State is still a magnet for relocating homebuyers, many of whom come from colder northern metros. New York is the most common origin for homebuyers moving to Miami, Tampa and Orlando, and Chicago is the most common for those moving to North-Port Sarasota and Cape Coral.

The number of Redfin.com users moving to Florida metros has declined over the last year as fewer people are buying homes overall. For example, the net inflow of homebuyers into Miami was nearly 13,000 a year ago, and now it’s 7,500. The net inflow into Tampa was about 9,000 a year ago, compared to about 6,000 now.

“About half of the people buying homes here are from out of town, and some are able to pay cash,” said Orlando Redfin Premier agent Nicole Dege. “That’s making it difficult for some locals to get their offers accepted, especially because many people have limited budgets due to high mortgage rates and there are so few homes coming on the market. Even though fewer people are coming in from out of town, there are also fewer homes for sale.”

Many homebuyers are leaving coastal California and New York

More homebuyers are looking to move away from San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Boston than any other metro area in the country.

Expensive coastal places, especially tech hubs like the Bay Area and Seattle, typically top the list of places homebuyers are leaving. Homes in those areas are pricey, and people—especially remote workers—often leave in favor of places where housing and overall cost of living is cheaper.

People who are moving to an entirely different area often do so for a reason like a new job or to take care of a family member. That’s compared with would-be homebuyers looking in their current metro, who may be more apt to delay homebuying plans because they’re simply looking for more space or a different layout.

To read the full report, including more data, charts and methodology, click here.

About Author: Demetria Lester

Demetria C. Lester is a reporter for DS News and MReport magazines with more than eight years of writing experience. She has served as content coordinator and copy editor for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register, in addition to 11 other Southern California publications. A former editor-in-chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, she has covered events such as the Byron Nelson and Pac-12 Conferences, progressing into her freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Lester is an avid jazz lover and likes to read. She can be reached at [email protected].

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