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Bye bye, San Francisco: The top 7 U.S. cities homebuyers are seeking to leave

Entrepreneur's Journal

" So long, San Francisco. "

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The pandemic has people itching to move.

Of course, there is always some percentage of people who are looking to relocate anyway, but a recent report from Redfin shows the share of homebuyers searching for a new place to call home is up substantially since COVID-19 first turned our world upside down.

As of January 2022, a record 32.4% of Redfin.com users nationwide looked to move to a different metro area — significantly up from 25.2% in Q2 2019, and slightly up from the previous peak of 31.5% in the first quarter of 2021.

While the current percentage is notably higher than before the pandemic, the question is exactly what influence the pandemic has had on the increase.

While it would seem that remote work policies would play a big part, expert input helps us bring further context to this rising trend.

Let’s explore the situation.

A record number of potential US homebuyers are looking to relocate, according to a report released last week by real estate brokerage firm Redfin.

The report listed the cities Redfin users were most likely to try to leave – San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York topped the list.

Top 8 cities people want to flee

Here are the top seven cities prospective homebuyers are seeking to leave, according to Redfin’s report:

  1. San Francisco, California
  2. Los Angeles, California
  3. New York, New York
  4. Washington, D.C.
  5. Seattle, Washington
  6. Boston, Massachusetts
  7. Detroit, Michigan
  8. Denver, Colorado

According to the Redfin Report, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C. were the top metro areas homebuyers looked to leave in January, which was unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2021.

“The typical home in San Francisco or San Jose now costs more than $1.5 million,” said Taylor Marr, Redfin’s deputy chief economist, in the report. “Add in today’s mortgage rates of over 5% and you have a sky-high monthly payment.”

That’s based on net outflow, a measure of how many more Redfin.com home searchers looked to leave a city than move in.

A one-bedroom apartment cost an average of $3,572 in San Francisco in June, according to a recent report from Rent.com. The average one-bedroom in New York City cost $5,812 in June, the report found, representing a year-over-year increase of an eye-watering 41%.

As for where homebuyers are looking to move, Miami was the most popular destination of all the major U.S. metros, unchanged from the third and fourth quarters of 2021. Miami was followed by Phoenix, Tampa, Sacramento and Las Vegas.

Where are people moving to find affordable homes?

These cities with the most net inflow may see an influx of homeowners in the coming months:

  1. Miami
  2. Tampa, Florida
  3. Phoenix
  4. Sacramento, California
  5. Las Vegas
  6. Cape Coral, Florida
  7. San Diego
  8. North Port, Florida

Florida, California, and Texas each have several cities on this list — perhaps indicating an American desire for warm weather, especially in the height of summer. Florida is a particularly popular destination, occupying four of the top 10 slots.

Many people browse sites like Redfin with no intention of buying a home. The company says its analysis ruled out such searches. Marr noted that Redfin’s data typically matches US Census migration patterns, an indication of the usual level of accuracy.

“We believe our data is a strong leading indicator of actual relocation decisions,” he said.

Unfortunately, buyers looking to relocate shouldn’t count on saving money across the board. Popular Sun Belt cities are also home to some of the Highest Inflation Rates in the country, Redfin found earlier this year.

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