As cases of COVID-19 began to rise during the fourth quarter of 2021 due to the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant, prospective homebuyers again ramped up their searches to relocate from their hometown, according to a report from Redfin released on Tuesday.
The report found that 31.2% of Redfin.com users looked to move away from their current metropolitan area during the fourth quarter of 2021, just 0.3 percentage points below the all-time high of 31.5% set during the first quarter of last year. Prior to the onset of the pandemic, a high of 26.3% was recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Redfin’s migration analysis is based on a sample of about 2 million Redfin.com users who search for homes across 111 metro areas in the fourth quarter. To be included in the data set, a user must have viewed at least 10 homes in a particular metro area and homes in that area must have made up at least 80% of the user’s searches.
Interest in relocation has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic, with experts citing historically low mortgage rates and the surge in remote work flexibility as the primary reasons why.
The most popular destinations based on net inflow, or the number of Redfin.com home searchers looking to move into a metro as compared to the number looking to leave, were Miami, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Sacramento and Tampa.
“I’ve seen a huge amount of people coming from the Bay Area, some to live permanently and some looking for investment properties,” Alison Williams, a Redfin agent in Sacramento, said in a statement. “Buyers are trying to get their hands on a home before interest rates go up even more. Remote workers coming from the Bay Area all have the same dream: To find a bigger home for half as much, and with a much more comfortable lifestyle and more money in their pockets. For a lot of them, the dream is becoming a reality–but at the same time, many locals are getting priced out of the market.”
On the other side of the spectrum, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and Seattle were the top metros homebuyers were looking to leave during the fourth quarter of 2021.