Photo by Chris Tingom on Unsplash

As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on and companies adopt permanent remote work policies, an increasing number of Angelenos are looking to escape the city’s high-priced housing market, suggests a Redfin report released today.

During the fourth quarter of 2020, 18.1 percent of Los Angeles-based Redfin users searched for properties in a different metropolitan area, up 1.4 percent from the same period last year. The net outflow, a measurement of how many individuals looked to leave than move in, surged 37.8 percent year-over-year.

As the city gained a reputation as the epicenter of the pandemic and job opportunities in the entertainment and service sectors dried up, fewer people considered a move to La La Land. Record-low inventory levels and unprecedented demand triggered by favorable interest rates also caused LA home values to skyrocket, pricing out thousands of would-be buyers.

The most popular out-of-state destinations for house hunters were Las Vegas, Phoenix and Dallas — all sunbelt cities that tout a lower cost of living. In December, median-priced homes in these markets sold for $315,000, $320,000 and $375,000, respectively.

The top outbound destination overall was nearby San Diego, which offers a similar lifestyle and more bang for your buck. The typical home in San Diego sold for $692,500 last month versus $832,000 in Los Angeles.

To prevent looky-loos from muddying the data, Redfin only included users who had viewed at least 10 homes in a particular metro area. The homes the user browsed in that area also had to comprise at least 80 percent of their searches.

“A lot of my clients are selling their homes and leaving Los Angeles,” said Redfin agent Lindsay Katz. “Remote work is causing people to reevaluate their options. One of my clients started working from home when the pandemic started, and she sold her house in Los Angeles for roughly $950,000 and bought one in Florida for around $500,000.”

Across the country, 30.3 percent of Redfin users looked for homes in a different metro area during the fourth quarter — the highest share since 2017 when Redfin began tracking migration data. Austin saw the most substantial net inflow of home searchers, climbing 148 percent over Q4 2019. Roughly 43 percent of Austin queries were by out-of-towners, a 10.5 percent boost from last year.

With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout going slower than expected, it could be several months before Los Angeles begins attracting new residents and the urban exodus slows its pace.

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