A Record 27.4% of Homebuyers are Looking to Move to a Different Place

The coronavirus pandemic is causing homebuyers to rethink what they want in a home, with more people relocating to places where they can afford more outdoor space and room for home offices, according to Redfin agents.

A record 27.4% of Redfin.com users looked to move to another metro area in the second quarter of 2020. That’s up from 25.2% in the second quarter of 2019 and 26.0% in the first quarter of this year.

Last month, we published a preliminary look at second-quarter migration patterns, which showed that 27.0% of home searchers were looking to move to another metro in April and May. This report includes full second-quarter numbers, which are similar but not identical to those in the previous report.

“The factors driving a surge in overall homebuyer demand—low mortgage rates and changes in what people are looking for in a home—are lighting a fire in people who were already considering a move to a different area,” said Redfin economist Taylor Marr. “Add in employers’ increasingly flexible remote work policies and the fact residents of many big coastal cities can’t fully enjoy their local amenities, and the people who have long wanted to live in a more affordable area or closer to family are incentivized to make the move soon. As we enter the second half of the year, I expect more people to move from one part of the country to another as the pandemic continues to influence people’s priorities and lifestyles. But it’s also important to note that some pandemic-driven moves are temporary, and the stories about families hiding out in remote cabins won’t all result in home purchases or permanent relocation.”

The latest migration analysis is based on a sample of more than 1 million Redfin.com users who searched for homes across 87 metro areas in the second quarter of 2020, excluding searches unlikely to precede an actual relocation or home purchase. To be included in this dataset, a Redfin.com user must have viewed at least 10 homes in a particular metro area, and homes in that area must make up at least 80% of the user’s searches.

Phoenix, Sacramento and Las Vegas are the most popular destinations

The most popular places for Redfin.com users to look to move into are typically inland areas with affordable housing, and the second quarter of 2020 was no exception. Phoenix, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Austin and Atlanta had the biggest net inflows of Redfin.com users in the second quarter. A net inflow means more people are looking to move in than leave, and a net outflow means more people are looking to leave than move in.

The most popular destinations have become more popular since last year, with all of them experiencing an uptick in the number of homebuyers looking to move in since the second quarter of 2019.

People from New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles are driving homebuyer interest in the most popular destinations. One of those three metros clocked in as the top out-of-state origin for nine of the top 10 most popular destinations.

“There’s an influx of people moving into Phoenix,” said local Redfin agent Thomas Wiederstein. “They’re coming from areas like California, Texas, Washington, Chicago, and plenty from the East Coast. The cost of living here is a huge driver, but weather also plays a big role with many looking to avoid those cold winters. With the pandemic, there are a ton of out-of-towners planning to work remotely who’d like a big backyard and office space, which didn’t used to be so high on their priority lists. They can get those things for around $400,000 here in the Phoenix area.”

Andrew Vallejo, a Redfin agent in Austin, the fourth-most popular destination in the second quarter, said a lot of the homebuyers he’s currently helping are moving in from out of state.

“We’re seeing tons of interest from clients moving to Austin from major cities on both coasts, particularly tech workers,” Vallejo said. “Buyers who have discovered they don’t love being quarantined in an apartment building in San Francisco or New York and can work remotely are looking for a house, and they can afford that here in Austin. I have a client moving from the Bay Area who just closed on a home site unseen, and another client from Portland who is in the process of buying a home here.”

Top 10 Metros by Net Inflow of Users and Their Top Origins

RankMetro*Net Inflow (Q2 2020)†Net Inflow (Q2 2019)Portion of Searches from Users Outside the Metro (Q2 2020)Portion of Searches from Users Outside the Metro (Q2 2019)Top OriginTop Out-of-State OriginMedian Sale Price (June 2020)
1Phoenix, AZ9,4288,23235.1%33.8%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA$310,000
2Sacramento, CA8,9356,86046.6%42.6%San Francisco, CAReno, NV$445,000
3Las Vegas, NV7,1365,68746.6%44.4%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA$309,000
4Austin, TX6,7705,40335.6%32.8%San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA$341,795
5Atlanta, GA6,6806,15726.4%26.7%New York, NYNew York, NY$269,900
6Dallas, TX5,6054,10127.6%23.9%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA$315,000
7Tampa, FL4,9554,17857.4%56.4%Orlando, FLNew York, NY$259,000
8Miami, FL4,2793,93827.3%25.7%New York, NYNew York, NY$340,500
9Nashville, TN3,6162,32135.4%29.1%New York, NYNew York, NY$320,000
10Charlotte, NC3,3802,91239.7%40.0%New York, NYNew York, NY$289,945

*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in Q2 2020
†Negative values indicate a net outflow; among the one million users sampled for this analysis only

New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and Chicago are the top five places with the biggest net outflows in the second quarter. Expensive coastal cities typically see the most out-migration.

“We have a lot of buyers moving to Palm Springs permanently from Los Angeles and Orange County because their employers have given them permission to work from home,” said local Redfin agent Nikki Byron. “Palm Springs has historically been primarily a vacation home market with a lot of retirees, so it’s interesting to see the shift toward full-time residents. Buyers who are relocating from more expensive areas are happy to get a nice home with three bedrooms and outdoor space priced between $350,000 and $600,000.”

San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Seattle, Denver and Boston have all experienced year-over-year increases in the share of local Redfin.com users looking to move away. And more people were looking to move out of Boston than move in during the second quarter, a reversal from last year. The portion of Redfin.com users in New York looking to move away has declined since last year, but that’s likely because a lot of New Yorkers searching for homes elsewhere have already left the metro, so their search origins reflect their current location.

Top 10 Metros by Net Outflow of Users and Their Top Destinations

RankMetro*Net Outflow (Q2 2020)†Net Outflow (Q2 2019)Portion of Local Users Searching Elsewhere (Q2 2020)Portion of Local Users Searching Elsewhere (Q2 2019)Top DestinationTop Out-of-State DestinationMedian Sale Price (June 2020)
1New York, NY33,96335,93835.2%39.8%Atlanta, GAAtlanta, GA$520,000
2San Francisco, CA31,78828,21022.7%21.0%Sacramento, CASeattle, WA$1,550,000
3Los Angeles, CA17,04116,19015.9%16.2%San Diego, CAPhoenix, AZ$655,000
4Washington, DC10,5507,84212.8%11.3%Salisbury, MDSalisbury, MD$440,500
5Chicago, IL6,6974,72611.7%10.3%Phoenix, AZPhoenix, AZ$269,900
6Seattle, WA6,00736313.7%11.2%Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA$615,000
7Denver, CO4,9434,11724.8%23.6%Seattle, WASeattle, WA$440,000
8Boston, MA2,864-3,85011.8%10.2%Portland, MEPortland, ME$542,250
9Milwaukee, WI1,5531,32537.3%38.3%Chicago, ILChicago, IL$250,000
10Rockford, IL91143285.1%79.1%Chicago, ILMadison, WI$143,000

*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in Q2 2020
†Negative values indicate a net outflow; among the one million users sampled for this analysis only

For an interactive tool to see where people are looking to move and where people are coming from for more than 80 U.S. metros, go to Redfin’s data center and scroll down to the migration section, then select your city from the drop-down menu.

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