1 in 4 are Part of the Great US Migration

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Twenty-five percent of home searchers looked to move to another metro area in the fourth quarter of 2018, up from 23 percent the year before, according to a new report from Redfin (www.redfin.com), the next-generation real estate brokerage. The national share of home searchers looking to relocate has been steadily increasing since Redfin began reporting on migration in early 2017 and currently sits at its highest level on record.

The latest migration analysis is based on a sample of more than 1 million Redfin.com users who searched for homes across 87 metro areas from October through December.

Moving Out – Metros with the Highest Net Outflow of Redfin Users

San FranciscoNew YorkLos AngelesWashington, D.C. and Denver posted the highest net outflows in the fourth quarter. Net outflow is defined as the number of people looking to leave the metro minus the number of people looking to move in to the metro. A net outflow means there are more people looking to leave the area than people looking to move in, while a net inflow means more people are looking to move in than leave.

Table: Top 10 Metros by Net Outflow of Users and Their Top Destinations

Rank

Metro*

Net 
Outflowꝉ

Net 
Outflow 
Last Year

Portion of 
Local Users 
Searching 
Elsewhere

Portion of 
Local Users 
Searching 
Elsewhere 
Last Year

Top 
Destination

Top Out-of-
State 
Destination

1

San Francisco, CA

29,122

17,168

23.8%

18.9%

Sacramento, CA

Seattle, WA

2

New York, NY

22,002

15,474

34.7%

33.5%

Boston, MA

Boston, MA

3

Los Angeles, CA

14,647

14,240

16.6%

15.5%

San Diego, CA

Phoenix, AZ

4

Washington, DC

5,527

4,443

10.7%

9.9%

New York, NY

New York, NY

5

Denver, CO

2,577

-20

23.8%

17.4%

Seattle, WA

Seattle, WA

6

Chicago, IL

2,535

1,786

9.4%

8.3%

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA

7

Milwaukee, WI

694

247

38.5%

36.9%

Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL

8

Orlando, FL

608

-233

46.9%

35.0%

Miami, FL

Washington, DC

9

Houston, TX

437

376

26.5%

24.2%

Austin, TX

Los Angeles, CA

10

Rockford, IL

324

N/A

Chicago, IL

Madison, WI

*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in Q4 2018

ꝉAmong the one million users sampled for this analysis only

Outflows on the upswing

In San FranciscoNew YorkDenver and Washington, D.C., outflows were up dramatically from a year earlier. Of all San Francisco Bay Area residents using Redfin, 24 percent were searching for homes in another metro, up from 19 percent during the same time period a year earlier.

Denver made the biggest move up the list from a year earlier, flipping from modest net inflows and outflows throughout 2017 to strong net outflows through late 2018. Last quarter, 24 percent of Denverites on Redfin.com searched for homes outside the area, up from 17 percent a year earlier.

Moving In – Metros with the Highest Net Inflow of Redfin Users

Seattle’s net inflow surged to make it the fifth-most popular migration destination  in the fourth quarter, behind nearby Portland and the relatively affordable metros–SacramentoPhoenix and Atlanta–that have long dominated this list. Although the number of home sales in Seattle was sharply declining at the end of the year (down 22 percent in December), search interest is still high. Washington State’s lack of an income tax may be helping Seattle to continue attracting people, as new tax policies enacted just over a year ago favor areas where homebuyers can avoid hitting the $10,000 SALT cap.

“In both Seattle and Denver prices were growing rapidly in 2017 and early 2018 to the point that buyers backed off in the second half of 2018,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “However, people looking to leave high-tax metros for a city with mountain views and top-notch hiking are more likely to pick Seattle over Denver because Washington Statedoesn’t have an income tax. In fact, the top destination for Denverites looking to leave is Seattle.”

In Sacramento, which has been at number one or number two on the inbound migration list every quarter since our inaugural 2017 report, “the biggest thing is the affordability of homes here, especially compared to markets like the Bay Area,” said Redfin agent Jim Hamilton. “The market has softened in the Bay Area, but not as much yet in Sacramento, so buyers are moving here to capitalize on their equity and put a substantial down payment or even pay cash.”

Table: Top 10 Metros by Net Inflow of Users and Their Top Origins

Rank

Metro*

Net 
Inflowꝉ

Net Inflow 
Last Year

Portion of 
Searches 
from Users 
Outside the 
Metro

Portion of 
Searches 
from Users 
Outside the 
Metro Last 
Year

Top Origin

Top Out-of-
State Origin

1

Sacramento, CA

5,879

4,586

42.1%

21.9%

San Francisco, CA

Seattle, WA

2

Phoenix, AZ

5,287

3,549

33.1%

16.4%

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA

3

Atlanta, GA

4,658

3,097

26.8%

10.2%

New York, NY

New York, NY

4

Portland, OR

4,057

1,700

20.1%

11.9%

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

5

Seattle, WA

3,638

-146

13.8%

11.0%

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

6

Las Vegas, NV

3,181

3,583

42.0%

23.5%

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA

7

San Diego, CA

3,120

3,776

25.0%

19.7%

Los Angeles, CA

Seattle, WA

8

Austin, TX

2,982

1,609

29.3%

14.4%

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

9

Miami, FL

2,893

1,105

28.5%

15.2%

Orlando, FL

New York, NY

10

Dallas, TX

2,824

2,074

24.1%

12.3%

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA

*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in Q4 2018

ꝉNegative values indicate a net outflow; among the one million users sampled for this analysis only

To read the full report, complete with additional data, interactive migration maps and methodology, please visit: https://www.redfin.com/blog/2019/01/q4-redfin-migration-report-seattle-reclaims-migration-destination-status.html.

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