Sunbelt Leads Population Shift and Housing Growth

HOUSTON – (By Dale King, Realty News Report) – If you relocated to Phoenix during 2021, you weren’t alone. More than 85,000 others were right behind you.

The Redfin the real estate brokerage, did a major head count of folks moving to new areas last year and found that the toasty, but attractive capital of Arizona gained a net 85,183 residents from around the nation — far more than any other metropolitan area.

Lone Star State Population Growth Leaders

While Phoenix was the most popular U.S. migration destination, Redfin said the Lone Star State wasn’t left at the starting gate. Three Texas metros were in the top 10 destinations – with Dallas placing second, Austin coming in sixth and San Antonio ranking 10th.

Redfin researchers said Dallas had a net inflow of 56,449 people from other states, Austin offered a big Texas “hello” to 32,440 newcomers and San Antonio made room for 23,909 new residents.

Texas led the nation in net population growth with a 310,000 gain between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021, according to a CoreLogic report. Florida was number two with 211,000 net population gain, followed by Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia.

Here are thumbnail statistics for housing prices in major cities in Texas:

  • Dallas: Median home price, $482,100, up 28 percent year over year; average rent for new monthly leases, $2,081, up 28.5 percent; number of homes for sale, down 27.6 percent.
  • Austin: Median home price, $385,000, up 30.3 percent year over year; average rent for new monthly leases, $2,290, up 39.9 percent; number of homes for sale, down 6.5 percent.
  • San Antonio: Median home price, $308,600, up 18.7 percent year over year; average rent for new monthly leases, $1,386, up 11.5 percent; number of homes for sale, down 17.86 percent.
  • Houston: The median home price $319,000 in December, up 17.3 percent year-over-year. Average monthly rent (for new leases was $1,807 in December, up 10.4 percent. The number of homes for sale was down 26.4 percent

Florida wasn’t exactly a slouch. Orlando placed third in the ranking with 56,000 folks setting down new roots in the happiest place on Earth.  Tampa took fifth place, welcoming 37,440 to the seaside Mecca on Florida’s West Coast.

The report ranks migration destinations by net inflow, a measure of how many more people moved into a metro area than out. The estimates are based on search data from and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Redfin’s figures confirm the old saying that “the South will rise again.” Nine of the 10 most popular destinations last year were in the Sun Belt, and half had a median home-sale price under the national median of roughly $383,000 in December – a welcoming sign in itself.

People Flocked to the Sunbelt

But while tens of thousands of Americans flocked to Sun Belt cities last year in search of affordability, housing costs are rapidly rising. That’s largely because so many people—often remote workers taking advantage of low mortgage rates—are moving in from other areas. Nationwide, 31 percent of users looked to move to another metro in 2021, up from 25.6 percent in 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.

The Redfin analysis says home-price growth was well above the national rate of 15 percent, year over year, for all 10 of the most popular destinations in December. Similarly, the average growth in rental payments for new leases far outpaced national growth (14 percent) in seven of the 10 most popular metros.

One Redfin Realtor in Austin confirmed how prices there have soared. “Sellers are listing their homes at higher prices than ever before, partly because of huge demand in the last year from out-of-towners,” said agent Barb Cooper. “I recently had a couple looking for a 2,000 SF home anywhere in the Austin area for under $300,000. I had to tell them it doesn’t exist.”

In Phoenix, says Redfin’s analysis, the typical home sold for $435,000 in December, 28 percent more than a year earlier, and the average monthly rental payment increased 26 percent year over year to $2,100. Prices of consumer goods and services are also increasing faster in popular migration destinations, with prices in Phoenix up 8.4 percent year over year in the fourth quarter, the second-highest inflation rate in the U.S.

“Moving across the country is now easier for many Americans, thanks to remote work,” said Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr. “That cultural shift is here to stay.”

“What’s changing is the affordability of the most popular destinations,” he added. “Some locals, particularly renters who aren’t able to take advantage of rising home values, are getting priced out of places like Phoenix and Austin as the cost of housing and other goods and services go up. New construction tends to be robust in sprawling Sun Belt cities, and local governments ought to continue to prioritize building new homes to keep up with ongoing demand.”

Out-of-towners with big budgets are helping fuel rapid price growth in the most popular destinations. In eight of the 10 most popular destinations (the two Florida metros are the exception), the average out-of-towner’s budget was at least 15 percent higher than the average local’s budget in the first quarter of 2021.

The report says “rapidly rising housing costs could slow the flow of Americans relocating to Phoenix and other Sun Belt cities. As the affordability gap narrows, some people may choose to stay in expensive coastal cities and others may opt for northern cities where homes are less expensive.”

Still, home prices in Phoenix remain roughly half of what many metros in coastal California get – the typical Los Angeles home sold for $835,000 in December, for instance – so relocating to a state like Arizona, Texas or Florida remains financially advantageous for a lot of homeowners and they will continue to attract relocators.”


Feb. 11,  2022 Realty News Report Copyright 2022.

Photo Credit: Ralph Bivins, Realty News Report Copyright 2022

Check out the book Houston 2020: America’s Boom Town – An Extreme Close Up  by Ralph Bivins. Available on Amazon  

File: Sunbelt Leads Population Shift 

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