Out-of-town moves remain popular as high housing costs push homebuyers to affordable areas

Redfin.com home searches in out-of-town destinations have dropped 4% from a year ago, compared with a 16% drop for searches near home

The number of Redfin.com home searchers looking to relocate to a new metro fell 4.2% from a year earlier in the first quarter, compared with a 15.6% drop for those looking to move within their current metro. That’s according to a new report from Redfin (redfin.com), the technology-powered real estate brokerage. Those are the biggest drops in Redfin’s records, which go back through 2018.

Far-flung home searches have held up better than within-metro searches as the overall housing market slows from the pandemic homebuying boom. That’s largely because high mortgage rates, still-high home prices and inflation have driven many homebuyers—especially remote workers with freedom to move—to less expensive areas. Relatively affordable places like Phoenix, Las Vegas and parts of Florida are some of the nation’s most popular destinations.

“Las Vegas attracts a lot of homebuyers from California, Hawaii, Washington State and other expensive western places,” said Las Vegas Redfin agent Shay Stein. “For most of these buyers, it’s all about affordability: We have no state income tax, very low property taxes and an overall low cost of living. Plus, some people moving in from out of town have enough in their bank account to pay all cash, so today’s elevated rates don’t impact them.”

Home searches outside a homebuyer’s metro surged in late 2020 and early 2021 as remote workers pounced on low mortgage rates and the opportunity to work remotely. Close-to-home searches shot up, too, but not nearly as much.

Looking at the trend another way, house hunters moving to a new area make up a bigger piece of the homebuying pie than ever. A record one-quarter (25.1%) of Redfin.com home searchers looked to relocate to a new metro in the first quarter. That’s up from 22.8% a year earlier and around 18% before the pandemic.

Immigration rebounds from pandemic slump in coastal cities, partly offsetting trend of homebuyers leaving for more affordable places

Immigration into major U.S. coastal cities like New York and Los Angeles has rebounded after dropping off drastically in 2020 and 2021. The uptick in people moving in from other countries partly makes up for the homebuyers flowing out of those areas, typically to more affordable places.

The net inflow of immigrants more than doubled from a year earlier in 2022 in the Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Boston. That’s according to a Redfin analysis of U.S. Census data, which shows that immigration into many big American cities has picked up speed after the pandemic-driven slowdown.

Immigrants are flowing into expensive coastal job centers, the same places many homebuyers who are already based in the U.S. are leaving.

House hunters looked to leave San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles more than any other major metro in the first quarter, followed by Washington, D.C. and Boston. This ranking is determined by net outflow, a measure of how many more Redfin.com users looked to leave a metro than move in.

“Several years of declining immigration, compounded by Americans flowing out of big coastal cities during the pandemic, resulted in many major coastal cities losing population,” said Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr. “Last year’s immigration rebound was a boon for those cities, which take in most of the people who move to the U.S. from other countries. For the housing and rental markets, the recovery should add enough demand to at least partly make up for the existing residents who move further inland.”

Top 10 Metros Homebuyers Are Leaving, by Net Outflow Net outflow = Number of Redfin.com home searchers looking to leave a metro area, minus the number of searchers looking to move in
RankMetro*Net Outflow, Q1 2023Net Outflow, Q1 2022Portion of Local
Users Searching
Top DestinationTop Out-of-State
1San Francisco, CA31,10042,60025%Sacramento, CASeattle, WA
2New York, NY23,40023,10028%Miami, FLMiami, FL
3Los Angeles, CA20,30030,10018%Las Vegas, NVLas Vegas, NV
4Washington, D.C.18,00019,60019%Miami, FLMiami, FL
5Boston, MA5,80010,80020%Miami, FLMiami, FL
6Seattle, WA4,70021,10019%Phoenix, AZPhoenix, AZ
7Chicago, IL4,5006,40017%Cape Coral, FLCape Coral, FL
8Denver, CO4,2004,70035%Chicago, ILChicago, IL
9Hartford, CT3,20080076%Boston, MABoston, MA
10Minneapolis, MN2,5002,20033%Chicago, ILChicago, IL
*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users searching to and from the region in January 2023-March 2023

Sun Belt locales are most popular with relocating homebuyers

Miami, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tampa, FL and Orlando, FL were the most popular destinations for Redfin.com users looking for homes in a different metro in the first quarter. Popularity is determined by net inflow, a measure of how many more Redfin.com users looked to move into an area than leave.

Sun Belt locales are typically the most popular migration destinations, largely because they’re relatively affordable. The typical home in eight of the 10 most popular destinations is less expensive than in its top origin. For instance, the typical Las Vegas home sells for $400,000, less than half the $820,000 median in Los Angeles, where many of its new residents come from. Las Vegas is more expensive than it was before the pandemic, but still much more affordable than a place like Los Angeles.

People are also moving to the Sun Belt from other countries. Immigration into seven of the 10 most popular migration destinations–Phoenix, Tampa, Orlando, Cape Coral, FL, North Port-Sarasota, FL, Dallas and Houston–more than doubled from 2021 to 2022. Still, they’re not gaining nearly as many immigrants as big coastal metros.

Top 10 Metros Homebuyers Are Moving Into, by Net Inflow Net inflow = Number of Redfin.com home searchers looking to move into a metro area, minus the number of searchers looking to leave
RankMetro*Net Inflow, Q1 2023Net Inflow, Q1 2022Top OriginTop Out-of-State Origin 
1Miami, FL8,60013,800New York, NYNew York, NY
2Phoenix, AZ7,60010,500Seattle, WASeattle, WA
3Las Vegas, NV6,6007,300Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
4Tampa, FL6,0009,000New York, NYNew York, NY
5Orlando, FL5,4002,800New York, NYNew York, NY
6Sacramento, CA5,4008,500San Francisco, CAChicago, IL
7Cape Coral, FL4,9006,900Chicago, ILChicago, IL
8North Port-Sarasota, FL4,9006,300Chicago, ILChicago, IL
9Dallas, TX4,8006,800Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
10Houston, TX4,3004,800New York, NYNew York, NY
*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users searching to and from the region in January 2023-March 2023

About Redfin

Redfin (www.redfin.com) is a technology-powered real estate company. We help people find a place to live with brokerage, rentals, lending, title insurance, and renovations services. We sell homes for more money and charge half the fee. We also run the country’s #1 real estate brokerage site. Our home-buying customers see homes first with on-demand tours, and our lending and title services help them close quickly. Customers selling a home can have our renovations crew fix up their home to sell for top dollar. Our rentals business empowers millions nationwide to find apartments and houses for rent. Since launching in 2006, we’ve saved customers more than $1 billion in commissions. We serve more than 100 markets across the U.S. and Canada and employ over 5,000 people.

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