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How Telecommuting Drives Homebuyer Migration Trends

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant remote-work trends, researchers and real estate economists have been keeping a close eye on how those changes affect homeowners' and buyers' relocation tendencies.

Migration from one metropolitan area to another increased concurrent with pandemic-related lockdowns, as telecommuting allowed Americans to prioritize proximity to family and affordability over a quick commute to the office.

Most recently, Redfin.com reports that its data show users' interest in homes outside their home city or state beginning to wane slightly compared to a few months ago. Still, they say inclinations toward such relocation are still far greater than it was prior to the coronavirus or even one year ago—one in three house hunters expressed interest in relocating to a new metro in Q2.

Redfin's Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather says the market might even see a greater increase in movement, depending on the outcome of plans under the Biden administration to make it easier for Americans to move to a new state by encouraging the FTC to ban certain occupational licensing restrictions.

"That would make it easier for a teacher, barber or electrician to move across state lines," she said.

Fairweather believes that while homeowners' migration might be slowing on a month-over-month basis, it will remain elevated for the foreseeable future.

"Some pandemic trends are here to stay, and moving to a more affordable part of the country is part of the new normal," she said.

While the want to move to a new metro was down .4% for the quarter, it is still up on a year-over-year basis.

According to Redfin's latest study, 31.1% of Redfin.com users looked to move to a new metro in Q2 (down from 31.5% in the last quarter). During the same time period last year that percentage was 27.6.

Phoenix, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Miami, and Tampa led the way in net inflow (the 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).

The preferred destinations are highly dependent on affordability as well as work opportunity and quality of life, say real estate agents. And the market favors those who are able to sell in a relatively expensive metro.

Take Las Vegas, for example.

"Las Vegas is attractive for a lot of reasons: Homes are affordable, taxes are low, the weather is warm and now the tourism industry is revving back up, with hotels and casinos bustling once again,” said Agent Marco Di Pasqualucci. "Remote workers and retirees are flocking to Las Vegas, especially from more expensive markets. If someone sells their expensive house in Seattle or Los Angeles, they can come here and buy a nice, spacious house for over asking price, sometimes even in cash."

While home prices ins Vegas have risen 18.1% over the last year, the typical home still sells for $365,000—less than half of the $828,000 median sale price in Los Angeles, the top origin for people relocating to Las Vegas.

A separate Redfin study last month revealed that those who moved earlier in the pandemic are, in general, remained satisfied with their decision.

Redfin researchers pointed out that "there has been a fair amount of speculation about the psychology of pandemic homebuyers, with some wondering whether homebuyers will regret making such a major life decision in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime global crisis."

After all, they added, rocketing house prices and intense competition have led some homebuyers to do things they wouldn’t do in a typical year, such as waive inspection and appraisal contingencies and buy homes sight unseen in an area they don’t yet live in.

Although 15% of respondents said they had some regrets about moving, the survey showed a large majority standing by their choices.

The complete study is available at Redfin.com.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media/Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning news, among others. Contact Christina at [email protected]

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