HOUSTON – (By Dale King, Realty News Report) — The coronavirus pandemic is prompting homebuyers to rethink what they want in a dwelling and where they want it to be located as the urban migration trend accelerates in America.
More often than in the recent past, people are pulling up stakes to get away from COVID-19 and to escape metros impacted by turmoil, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Seattle, among others.
On-the-move homebuyers are relocating to places where they can afford more outdoor space, find room for home-based offices and institute lifestyle changes, say agents of Redfin, the Seattle-based residential real estate company.
A record 27.4% of Redfin.com users considered moving to another metro area during the second quarter of 2020, a new Redfin report concludes. That’s up from 25.2% in the second quarter of 2019 and 26.0% during the first quarter of this year.
Redfin says the most popular places for Redfin.com users to search for a new home are typically inland areas with affordable housing. The second quarter supported this conclusion as Phoenix, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Austin and Atlanta had the biggest net inflows of Redfin.com users. Dallas was also among the top 10 move-away sites.
New home searchers, says the report, are seeking new digs for a number of reasons, everything from avoiding COVID-19 to finding a site with a better climate.
“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,” he added.
“As we enter the second half of the year,” he said, “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 Redfin report ranks not only cities gaining population – where net inflow means more people are looking to move in than leave – but also cities losing residents – where net outflow means more people are looking to leave than move in. New York City leads that list with 33,963 residents hitting the road in the second quarter of 2020; San Francisco, second with 31,788 bidding “bye-bye”; Los Angeles, which saw just over 17,000 vacate their residences; Washington, D.C., fourth, with about 10,550 leaving and Chicago, fifth with 6,697 fleeing from the Windy City,
Redfin agents say expensive coastal cities typically see the most out-migration.
The urban migration report says 9,428 people moved into Phoenix in the second quarter of 2020, some 1,200 more than the second quarter of 2019. Most of the newcomers came from Los Angeles, the report notes.
“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.”
Ranking No. 4 among cities that saw the most newcomers was Austin, with 6,770 settling in during Q-2 of 2020. A total of 5,403 became Austin dwellers in the second quarter of 2019.
“We’re seeing tons of interest from clients moving to Austin from major cities on both coasts, particularly tech workers,” said Andrew Vallejo, a Redfin agent in Austin.
“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 sight-unseen, and another client from Portland who is in the process of buying a home here.”
Ranked No. 6 on the list of top 10 places receiving newcomers is Dallas, says the report, with 5,605 people setting down roots in Big D during the second quarter of 2020. That’s about 1,500 more than came in Q-2 of 2019.
The latest migration analysis is based on a sample of more than a 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.
July 30, 2020 Realty News Report Copyright 2020
Photo Credit: Ralph Bivins, Realty News Report Copyright 2020
File: Urban Migration File (2) Urban Migration in the Pandemic