Homebuyers look to escape big cities — here’s where they’re going

With mortgage costs rising, more homebuyers from large urban areas like New York City and San Francisco are seeking to relocate to relatively affordable cities like Phoenix, Miami or Las Vegas, a new analysis finds.

Of all homebuyers that search for property on online real estate brokerage Redfin.com, 24.2% are looking for a home in a different metro area than where they live. This number has been growing, too, from about 18% in 2019, according to the company’s search data.

With more people working remotely and 30-year fixed mortgage rates nearly doubling in the last year to over 7%, swapping cities is one way that potential homeowners can help to lower living costs, the study says.

Out of 100 metro areas examined during the third quarter, the following 10 cities had the highest net inflow of property searches on Redfin’s website. Net inflow is measured as the number of people looking to move into a metro minus the number of people looking to leave.

  1. Sacramento, California: 8,700
  2. Miami: 8,000
  3. Las Vegas: 7,000
  4. San Diego: 6,800
  5. Tampa, Florida: 6,700
  6. Phoenix: 5,200
  7. Cape Coral, Florida: 5,200
  8. North Port – Sarasota, Florida: 5,200
  9. Dallas: 4,100
  10. Portland, Maine: 3,300

Warmer destinations dominate the rankings — particularly Florida, which has three metro areas in the top 10.

Tellingly, the highest number of searches for properties in these cities are from people in urban areas that have a relatively high cost of living, like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, the study says.

The trend of leaving big cities lines up with Redfin’s ranking of cities with the highest proportion of searches made by local users looking to relocate:

  1. Detroit: 32%
  2. Denver: 31%
  3. Minneapolis: 29%
  4. NYC: 27%
  5. San Francisco: 24%
  6. Los Angeles: 20%
  7. Boston: 19%
  8. Washington, D.C.: 18%
  9. Seattle: 17%
  10. Chicago: 16%

Homebuyers from large northern or coastal cities are most likely to relocate, usually to smaller cities that are nearby, the study says. Many people are looking to leave Los Angeles for places in the Southwest, like Las Vegas or Phoenix.

For the purposes of the study, a person browsing Redfin for properties in another city counts as a migrant. Migrants are given a weighted score based on the share of properties searched in a city where they don’t live. The net inflow rankings were compiled based on the total number of migrants. All data was compiled between July and September.

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