More Than a Quarter of Buyers Seek Out-of-Town Moves

July 24, 2020

Since the start of the pandemic, a growing number of Americans are rethinking where they want to call home and searching for places where they can find more outdoor space and room for home offices, according to new research from Redfin.

Redfin reports that 27.4% of its online visitors were looking to move to another metro in the second quarter of 2020—an all-time high, up from 25.2% in the second quarter of 2019. Redfin’s migration analysis reflects a sample of more than 1 million Redfin.com users who searched for homes across 87 metros in the second quarter.

“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,” says Taylor Marr, Redfin’s chief economist. “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 most popular relocation destinations among Redfin.com users were inland areas that tend to boast higher housing affordability than coastal regions. The areas with the largest net inflows of Redfin.com users in the second quarter were:

  • Phoenix

  • Sacramento, Calif.

  • Las Vegas

  • Austin, Texas

  • Atlanta

Residents from New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are driving homebuyer interest in some of these destinations, Redfin’s report notes. (A net inflow means that more people are looking to move into than out of an area. On the other hand, a net outflow means more people are looking to leave than move in.)

“There’s an influx of people moving into Phoenix,” says Thomas Wiederstein, a local real estate agent. “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.” Wiederstein says buyers may be drawn to the fact that they can snag those items on their wish lists in Phoenix for around $400,000.

Out of town chart