Searches for home listings outside of a homebuyer’s current metropolitan area surged in 2020 and 2021, with remote workers taking advantage of low mortgage rates to move to less expensive cites, and, while the trend has slowed, out-of-town searches are still a big part of house hunters.
According to Redfin, and based only on searches through its site and those of its agents, house hunters moving to a new area made up 25.1% of searches in the first quarter. That is a record, and compares to 18% before the pandemic.
The D.C. region is in the top 10 for homebuyers looking to leave, according to Redfin searches, ranking fourth. Net outflow, or the number of home searchers looking to leave minus the number of searches looking to move in, was 18,000 in the D.C. region in the first quarter. The portion of D.C. area residents searching elsewhere was 19% in the first quarter.
The list is dominated by notoriously expensive metros, topped by San Francisco and New York, where one-in-four searches were outbound last quarter. Los Angeles ranked third. Boston ranked fifth.
Where are D.C. area homebuyers looking to move away searching?
“People in D.C. are primarily looking to relocate to Miami, or other nearby coastal towns such as Virginia Beach, or up on the coast of Maryland. These could be vacation home buyers, or people who are looking to downsize somewhere that is nearby but also more affordable,” said Taylor Marr, Deputy Chief Economist at Redfin.
The list of outbound search destinations are largely Sunbelt locations, including destinations in Florida, Arizona, Nevada and less expensive California markets.
The top five metro regions for homebuyers looking to move into, or net inflow, are Miami, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tampa and Orlando.
For homeowners looking to sell and relocate to another, more affordable city, they will not only be likely to get more home for their money, but currently high mortgage rates also mean a lot less.
“Move-up buyers who are relocating out of a coastal city like D.C. to Virginia Beach can cash in on high home prices and take that equity to someplace cheaper. So, they aren’t having to borrow as much often times,” Marr said.
Immigration into major U.S. coastal cities like New York and Las Angeles has rebounded, though, after dropping dramatically in 2020 and 2021.
Home searching in general is lower than a year ago, but the year-over-year decline in searches in a buyer’s current home city far outpaced those looking to move elsewhere, down 15.6% versus down 4.2%.
Below are the top metros where homebuyers were searching elsewhere in the first quarter, and top 10 for inflow, according to Redfin:
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