Many Americans move to lower-priced housing markets in 2020

LOS ANGELES — Many Americans who moved last year relocated to areas where homes were larger and less expensive on average.

According to Zillow, on average, people who moved to a different city in 2020 ended up in a ZIP code where median home values ​​were about $27,000 lower than in their previous ZIP code.

The real estate information company said people who moved last year also moved to zip codes where the average home sold was 33 square feet larger than their previous home.

Zillow based its findings on analysis of data from thousands of moves conducted nationwide by North American Van Lines, the transfer company.

Although the data doesn’t show how many people bought homes, it does suggest that many Americans used the pandemic, and the widespread acceptance of working remotely, as an opportunity to escape high-cost metropolitan areas.

Home prices have been rising steadily over the past decade, but 2020 was at least the first year since 2016 where people were not moving, on average, to areas with higher housing costs than in their previous location, Zillow found.

“What that suggests to me is more movement from the more expensive housing markets in the country,” said Jeff Tucker, a senior economist at Zillow.

Similar trends were found in a survey by Redfin of people who moved to a different metropolitan area in the 12 months since March 2020. Nearly two-thirds of respondents now have the same or lower housing costs, and nearly as many said their new home is the same size or larger. The survey was made up of 500 people who use the website of an online brokerage.

Many Americans continued to move to more affordable and less densely populated areas in the first three months of this year, according to some 300,000 moves handled by relocation tech company Updater.

Still, outflows from dense urban cities such as New York, San Francisco and Boston slowed in the first quarter, the company said.

Rising prices, a lack of homes on the market and the ability to work remotely prompted many Americans to relocate in the past year, especially those moving out of dense urban areas in the Northeast such as New York City in favor of more suburban areas. were looking forward to.

In the Zillow analysis, some of the metropolitan areas that saw the highest net outbound moves last year were Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego and San Francisco. Among the cities seeing the biggest net gains in people moving were Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, Texas, Charlotte, North Carolina and Sarasota, Florida.

Sunbelt cities in the South and West have been shifting hot spots for years as many Americans seek relatively affordable housing and warm climates. And, of course, snowbirds and retirees from the Northeast and Midwest have long been flocking to Florida, Arizona, and Nevada, among other sunbelt destinations.

Tucker said the pandemic has in many ways accelerated existing migration patterns and accelerated established trends, including those moving across the Sunbelt from the Northeast and Midwest.

Last year’s relocation wave, taking place during a red-hot housing market, has particularly benefited relocating homeowners. Competition would have helped drive up their selling price, while moving to a lower-priced area would likely put them in a position to buy a larger home at a lower price.

Nationally, according to Zillow, the median home value in a ZIP code with net departures from residents was $419,344, while the median value of a home in a ZIP code with a net increase in move-in was $392,281, down nearly 7% was. This dynamic reflects more moves arising in larger metropolitan areas where home values ​​are higher.

For example, Los Angelinos who moved to another metropolitan area last year could expect home values ​​to be $591,517 less than, on average, they were in L.A., according to Zillow. While movers from areas relocated to Los Angeles had an average home value of $614,793 higher than the areas they moved from.

Zillow also found that the average size of homes in zip codes where people moved last year increased to 1,913 square feet from their previous location’s average of 1,880 square feet. This increase in square footage is about the size of a walk-in closet, pantry or bathroom.

“The move to larger homes is also in line with the hypothesis that it is being operated by domestic workers, as in most cases they need a home office,” Tucker said.


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