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Real Estate Enthusiasts

The 10 most popular cities for out-of-town homebuyers

Out-of-town moves are on the rise, and it’s largely thanks to the pandemic. Some homebuyers are looking to move closer to friends and family, while others are simply on the hunt for more space and a break from cramped urban cores. 

There are also changing work arrangements to consider. With remote work growing in popularity, proximity to the office is no longer a priority. In fact, many Americans are using it as an excuse to move to their dream towns or just enjoy a change of scenery.

Where exactly are these homebuyers heading, and what cities are these out-of-town migrants leaving? New data from Redfin sheds some light.

Where homebuyers are headed

According to Redfin, nearly a third of its users were looking to move to a new metro market during the third quarter of this year. 

The top city for these out-of-town homebuyers was Santa Barbara, Calif., where net inflow (or the number of people looking to move to the city, minus those looking to leave) was up a whopping 124% compared to 2019. Nearly 71% of all home searches in the city came from outside the metro area.

Other popular destinations included:

  • Louisville, Ky.: 113% increase in inflow, 42.1% of searches from outside the area
  • Buffalo, N.Y.: 107% increase in inflow,  34.4% of searches from outside the area
  • Burlington, Vt.: 103% increase in inflow, 59.2% of searches from outside the area
  • El Paso, Texas: 101% increase in inflow, 49.9% of searches from outside the area
  • Little Rock, Ark.: 82% increase in inflow, 30.1% of searches from outside the area
  • Tulsa, Okla: 80% increase in inflow, 35.3% of searches from outside the area
  • Greenville, S.C.: 79% increase in inflow, 45.8% of searches from outside the area
  • Knoxville, Tenn.: 75% increase in inflow, 584% of searches from outside the area
  • Syracuse, N.Y.: 74% increase in inflow, 46% of searches from outside the area

If you just look at large metro areas, Sacramento, Calif.; Austin, Texas; Las Vegas; Phoenix; and Atlanta are the top spots. In Sacramento, over 43% of searches came from outside the market.

Where homebuyers are leaving

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the cities that are losing residents. According to Redfin’s data, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles top the list there.

In New York, the top destinations are nearby Buffalo, Syracuse and Boston. Over in San Francisco, homebuyers are heading for Sacramento and Seattle, while in L.A., Santa Barbara, El Paso, Little Rock, San Diego and Las Vegas are popular spots.

“Remote work has opened up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to buying a home,” says Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist. “Many residents of expensive areas like New York or Los Angeles couldn’t manage to afford rent and save for a home at the same time. So it’s no wonder that these folks are looking to buy homes in much more affordable places like Louisville and Little Rock.”

The times are changing

Much of the circumstances surrounding the pandemic are uncertain. But what’s not? That’d be the way it’s changing how Americans live, work and, eventually, become homebuyers. It should be interesting to see how migration patterns further evolve as the outbreak rages on.

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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