The Wave of Pandemic-Era Relocations Continued in April, With Nearly 31% of Homebuyers Looking to Move to Another Metro

Monday, June 7th, 2021

Nationwide, 30.6% of Redfin.com users looked to move to a different metro area in April, down slightly from 31.5% in the first quarter but up from 26% at the same time last year, according to a new report from Redfin (www.redfin.com), the technology-powered real estate brokerage.

The small decline in the share of homebuyers looking to relocate could be an early indication that pandemic-driven migration is starting to slow down as vaccines roll out and more Americans return to the office.

"The swell in relocations may be coming down from its peak, but the share of homebuyers looking to relocate to a different area is still well above pre-pandemic levels. Redfin agents in popular destinations say the surge of out-of-towners shows no signs of slowing," said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. "The small decline in April could be the start of a slowdown in the yearlong surge of people moving from one metro to another, but it could also just be a blip before things pick right back up. The dust has not settled, as there are still a lot of unknowns about what portion of workers will return to the office and how many will pick up and move because they finally have clarity from their employers about whether or how often they can work remotely. Once people know more about their future, we could see another big wave of migration as people settle into the new normal."

Movement from one metro area to another has mainly been trending upward since the beginning of the pandemic, with Americans taking advantage of remote work to relocate to places that match their personal preferences such as warm weather, affordability or living close to family.

The latest migration analysis is based on a sample of more than two million Redfin.com users who searched for homes across 87 metro areas in April, 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.

For homebuyers looking to relocate, sunny inland metros and parts of Florida are the most popular destinations

Phoenix, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Austin and Atlanta were the most popular destinations for Redfin.com users looking to move to a different area in April. That's based on net inflow, which is a measure of how many more Redfin.com home searchers looked to move into a metro than leave, out of a sample of two million users.

Relatively affordable inland metros tend to be the most popular destinations for Redfin.com users searching for homes in a different part of the country, as home searchers leave expensive coastal cities like Los Angeles and New Yorkin favor of places with more affordable, more spacious homes.

That's particularly true in the pandemic era, with all 10 of the most popular destinations seeing a bigger net inflow of out-of-towners than this time last year. And in all 10 of those places, the portion of Redfin.com searches from users outside the metro area has increased since last year.

"I'm still seeing tons of interest from homebuyers outside the area," said Sacramento Redfin agent Andrea White. "Some remote workers living in San Francisco or Silicon Valley are paying more than $3,000 a month to live in very small spaces. When potential buyers look at listings in Sacramento, they realize their big-city rent costs more than a mortgage here. Most of them aren't concerned that competition is intense and home prices are going up because it's an attractive lifestyle move. Employees who have the option to work remotely often decide it's worth the tradeoff to move out of a big city to live in a larger home for less money."

"I also work with a lot of buyers who are house hunting in the Sacramento Valley because they're planning for the future," White continued. "Some buyers from the Bay Area and Southern California are nearing retirement and want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, and some are planning to have children in the future and they're looking for a more spacious home to raise their family."

Top 10 Metros by Net Inflow of Redfin.com Users and Their Top Origins

Rank

Metro*

Net Inflow,
April 2021

Net Inflow,
April 2020

Portion of
Searches
from Users
Outside the
Metro, April
2021

Portion of
Searches
from Users
Outside the
Metro, April
2020

Top Origin

Top Out-of-
State Origin

1

Phoenix, AZ

6,949

5,308

38.5%

35.2%

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA

2

Las Vegas, NV

6,375

3,948

53.6%

46.1%

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA

3

Sacramento, CA

6,165

3,985

48.7%

44.1%

San Francisco, CA

Reno, NV

4

Austin, TX

5,670

2,915

38.9%

31.9%

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

5

Atlanta, GA

5,309

3,891

26.9%

26.7%

New York, NY

New York, NY

6

Miami, FL

5,250

2,109

32.2%

27.1%

New York, NY

New York, NY

7

Dallas, TX

5,056

2,521

32.0%

26.4%

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA

8

Tampa, FL

4,650

2,391

60.1%

57.1%

Orlando, FL

New York, NY

9

Cape Coral, FL

3,815

1,280

78.0%

75.7%

Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL

10

Orlando, FL

3,668

1,502

59.0%

52.8%

New York, NY

New York, NY

*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in April 2021

†Negative values indicate a net outflow; among the two million users sampled for this analysis only

Homebuyers are leaving New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles

New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Denver top the list of places Redfin.com users looked to leave in April, meaning they were the places with the biggest net outflows. A net outflow is a measure of how many more Redfin.com home searchers looked to leave a metro than move in, out of a sample of two million users.

The list of places with the biggest net outflows is typical, as big, expensive job centers tend to lose residents to more affordable areas. For instance, Sacramento is the top destination for people leaving the San Francisco Bay Area, and Phoenix is the most popular destination for people moving away from Seattle.

Top 10 Metros by Net Outflow of Redfin.com Users and Their Top Destinations

Rank

Metro*

Net Outflow,
April 2021

Net Outflow,
April 2020

Portion of
Local Users
Searching
Elsewhere,
April 2021

Portion of
Local Users
Searching
Elsewhere,
April 2020

Top
Destination

Top Out-of-
State
Destination

1

New York, NY

32,234

15,714

35.4%

36.0%

Boston, MA

Boston, MA

2

San Francisco, CA

23,139

16,545

22.3%

22.0%

Sacramento, CA

Seattle, WA

3

Los Angeles, CA

18,239

8,549

18.8%

15.6%

San Diego, CA

Las Vegas, NV

4

Washington, DC

10,876

4,831

14.7%

11.7%

Salisbury, MD

Salisbury, MD

5

Denver, CO

6,056

2,420

31.7%

24.0%

Seattle, WA

Seattle, WA

6

Seattle, WA

4,713

2,400

15.3%

12.7%

Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix, AZ

7

Chicago, IL

4,490

4,335

13.2%

10.9%

Cape Coral, FL

Cape Coral, FL

8

Milwaukee, WI

2,776

570

46.6%

34.9%

Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL

9

Boston, MA

2,018

2,039

14.4%

11.7%

Portland, ME

Portland, ME

10

Detroit, MI

1,528

598

26.2%

25.6%

Cleveland, OH

Cleveland, OH

*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in April 2021

†Among the two million users sampled for this analysis only

To read the full report, including charts, please visit: https://www.redfin.com/news/april-2021-housing-migration-trends.