U.S. Buyers Return to Big Cities and Continue Their Migration Towards Warmer Climates

Price pressures and lifestyle factors have combined to keep American buyers moving throughout the pandemic



As much of the U.S. reopens and returns to some semblance of normalcy, U.S. buyers remain on the move.

Just over 40% of prospective buyers searching on Realtor.com viewed home listings outside of their current state during the first quarter of the year, up from 36.4% in 2021 and 33.4% in 2020, according to data released by the site on Tuesday.

“After two years of pandemic remote work, offices have started to reopen, but instead of seeing a slowdown in the number of people interested in homes out of state, we’re seeing an acceleration,” Realtor.com chief economist Danielle Hale wrote in the report.



Washington, D.C., and New York City, two cities that saw significant struggles at the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, were among the top-10 most popular cities for relocations.


“Some people are simply ready to get back to normal, with some buyers’ desire to live downtown lifestyles driving two big cities into the top 10, including those most affected at the onset of Covid,” Ms. Hale wrote in the report.

Buyers are also making moves based on affordability as well as climate and overall lifestyle, and Sun Belt cities that have gained momentum throughout the pandemic remained popular in the first quarter. El Paso, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Birmingham, Alabama.; Hartford, Connecticut; Omaha, Nebraska; McAllen, Texas; Augusta, Georgia; and Greensboro, North Carolina, rounded out the top 10.



For high-end buyers searching in the top 90th percentile of the market, the New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Honolulu metropolitan areas all had a significant amount of interest from international buyers, with more than 10% of luxury searches being conducted by foreign purchasers, according to additional data collected for Mansion Global by Realtor.com.


“The data indicates that the East Coast in general and the New York metro and nearby Connecticut metros are becoming more attractive to out of market viewers, particularly in the luxury segments,” Ms. Hale told Mansion Global. “In western markets, we’re seeing a declining share of out of market luxury shoppers as local shoppers are an increasing component of who is looking at luxury listings.”


Among U.S. luxury buyers looking to move out of state, many took their searches to the cities that saw the most interest among the broader market, as well. McAllen; Bridgeport-Stamford, Connecticut; El Paso, Texas; Hartford; New Haven, Connecticut; Worcester, Massachusetts; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Cincinnati; Birmingham; and New York City were all in the top most popular searches among buyers at the high end.

“Outside of the well-established New York area, luxury shoppers are looking at up-and-coming North Carolina with both Durham-Chapel Hill and Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia each seeing roughly a five-percentage-point increase in out-of-market luxury shoppers looking at homes in the area,” Ms. Hale added.


This flurry of moving activity comes amid an environment of dramatic price growth. According to a report released by the National Association of Realtors on Tuesday, 70% of U.S. metros experienced double-digit home price growth during the first quarter of the year.


“Prices throughout the country have surged for the better part of two years, including in the first quarter of 2022,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun wrote in the report. “Given the extremely low inventory, we’re unlikely to see price declines, but appreciation should slow in the coming months.”

(Mansion Global is owned by Dow Jones. Both Dow Jones and Realtor.com are owned by News Corp.)


BY VIRGINIA K. SMITH

| ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MAY 3, 2022 | MANSION GLOBAL