While relocations eased slightly in April from the first quarter, the share of people moving from one part of the country to another is still well above pre-pandemic levels

Nationwide, 30.6% 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, 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 York in 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 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.” 

Homebuyers are leaving New York, San Francisco & 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. 

For more information, please visit www.Redfin.com.  

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