Affordability is a Relative Concept—Boston Tops U.S. Migration Destinations in the Third Quarter

 In Featured Post, migration, Real Estate News & Analysis

Boston passed the less expensive inland metro areas that typically dominate the list of top migration destinations, but it’s still an affordable option for some. Nationally, the share of Redfin home searchers looking outside their home metro hit a new all-time record of 26 percent.

Twenty-six percent of Redfin.com home searchers looked to move to another metro area in the third quarter of 2019, compared to 25 percent during the same period last year. This is a new all-time high for the national share of home-searchers looking to relocate. 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 July through September.

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

Phoenix fell to number three in the rankings in the third quarter after two quarters at the top of our list of metro areas with the highest net inflow of Redfin users. Boston is the new number one, with Sacramento at number two. A net inflow means more people are looking to move in than leave, while a net outflow means there are more people looking to leave than people looking to move in.

Seventeen percent of homebuyers searching in the Boston metro area were looking from other metro areas in the third quarter, up from both a year earlier (12.0%) and the second quarter (14.1%). New York continues to be the top origin city for people looking to move to Boston, and Boston is the top destination for people looking to leave New York.

“There is a sense here in New York that the sky has been falling for our housing market all year,” said Redfin New York market manager Nick Boniakowski. “People fleeing NYC aren’t looking for a rural life, they are fleeing the high costs. Boston presents a slightly more accessible cost of living, while still providing urban quality of life that many desire today. Boston is appealing because it’s close and there are similar employment opportunities.”

Table: Top 10 Metros by Net Inflow of Users and Their Top Origins
Rank Metro* Net Inflow 2019 Q3 Net Inflow 2018 Q3 Portion of Searches from Users Outside the Metro 2019 Q3 Portion of Searches from Users Outside the Metro 2018 Q3 Top Origin Top Out-of-State Origin
1 Boston, MA 6,985 1,437 17.2% 12.0% New York, NY New York, NY
2 Sacramento, CA 6,896 7,043 43.4% 42.5% San Francisco, CA Reno, NV
3 Phoenix, AZ 6,182 5,235 31.6% 32.4% Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles, CA
4 Las Vegas, NV 5,938 2,371 44.8% 40.7% Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles, CA
5 Atlanta, GA 5,827 5,466 26.4% 26.3% New York, NY New York, NY
6 Austin, TX 4,767 3,016 32.0% 27.6% San Francisco, CA San Francisco, CA
7 Dallas, TX 3,475 2,733 23.5% 22.5% Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles, CA
8 Tampa, FL 3,218 2,807 52.7% 51.1% Orlando, FL New York, NY
9 San Diego, CA 3,043 3,200 23.2% 24.7% Los Angeles, CA Seattle, WA
10 Charlotte, NC 2,848 1,977 40.0% 37.3% New York, NY New York, NY
*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in Q3 2019
†Negative values indicate a net outflow; among the one million users sampled for this analysis only

Boston’s rise to the top of the migration list is unusual, since most of the top destinations in recent years have been more affordable metro areas. Six of the top ten migration destinations have median prices below the national median, and only San Diego has a higher median price than Boston. That said, Boston is still relatively affordable, when compared to New York, the metro it is drawing the most people from.

Metro Area September 2019 Median Price
Boston, MA $490,000
Sacramento, CA $415,000
Phoenix, AZ $280,000
Las Vegas, NV $292,200
Atlanta, GA $247,000
Austin, TX $325,000
Dallas, TX $295,000
Tampa, FL $235,000
San Diego, CA $577,000
Charlotte, NC $264,100
National $307,100

The second quarter was the first time since Redfin began our quarterly migration report that Boston has been in the top 10 migration destinations. It debuted in the second quarter at number nine on the list before shooting all the way up to number one in the third quarter. Relative to New York, Boston’s lower sales, income, and property taxes are likely a big factor driving people to make the move between the two cities.

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

The list of metros people most-often looked to leave was once again topped by New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. in the third quarter. Net outflow is defined as the number of people looking to leave the metro minus the number of people looking to move to the metro.

“Homebuyers are leaving expensive metros for affordable metros and as a result there are fewer and fewer homes for sale in more affordable parts of the country,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “In San Francisco, for example, inventory has been rising because there aren’t many San Franciscans who can afford the high prices. San Franciscans are moving to Sacramento where homes are much more affordable, and that, combined with a lack of new listings, has caused inventory to decline in Sacramento.”

Table: Top 10 Metros by Net Outflow of Users and Their Top Destinations
Rank Metro* Net Outflow 2019 Q3 Net Outflow 2018 Q3 Portion of Local Users Searching Elsewhere 2019 Q3 Portion of Local Users Searching Elsewhere 2018 Q3 Top Destination Top Out-of-State Destination
1 New York, NY 35,120 23,504 39.4% 35.2% Boston, MA Boston, MA
2 San Francisco, CA 26,988 27,626 20.6% 21.4% Sacramento, CA Seattle, WA
3 Los Angeles, CA 17,176 14,127 16.1% 15.7% San Diego, CA Las Vegas, NV
4 Washington, D.C. 8,681 6,478 11.6% 10.3% Salisbury, MD Salisbury, MD
5 Chicago, IL 3,974 2,967 10.2% 9.0% Phoenix, AZ Phoenix, AZ
6 Denver, CO 3,241 3,300 23.0% 23.9% Fort Collins, CO Seattle, WA
7 Hartford, CT 1,410 1,502 70.8% 78.4% Boston, MA Boston, MA
8 Seattle, WA 1,336 -1,583 11.2% 10.4% Bellingham, WA Portland, OR
9 Milwaukee, WI 1,239 895 39.4% 40.0% Chicago, IL Chicago, IL
10 Houston, TX 836 572 25.7% 25.5% Austin, TX Los Angeles, CA
*Combined statistical areas with at least 500 users in Q3 2019
†Among the one million users sampled for this analysis only

Find Your City

Below is an interactive tool to see where people are looking to move and where people are coming from for more than 80 U.S. metros. Find your city by clicking on the drop down menu:


The post Affordability is a Relative Concept—Boston Tops U.S. Migration Destinations in the Third Quarter appeared first on Redfin Blog.

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