Photo by Maurice Williams on Unsplash

There has been much debate in the last year over the validity of the so-called ‘California Exodus.’ And while a recent University of California study reveals that it’s more of a reshuffling than an all-out exodus, about a fifth of Los Angeles home searchers remain interested in moving to another city or state. 

According to Redfin’s second-quarter migration report, 18.6 percent of Los Angeles-based users on the platform looked to leave the metropolitan area. To prevent hobbyist home searchers from muddling the data, Redfin only considered users who had viewed at least 10 homes in a particular metro area, and homes within that region had to comprise at least 80 percent of the user’s searches.

LA also had the third highest net outflow of home searchers nationwide with a reading of 33,723. Net outflow is a measurement of how many residents sought to leave rather than move in based on a sample of 2 million users.

Despite beliefs that migration would taper off as offices, schools and urban amenities fully reopened, interest in relocating among Angelenos is higher now than it was one year ago. During Q2 2020, only 15.9 percent of local users were browsing homes in other metros and net outflow was significantly lower at 17,068 residents.

“Large, expensive cities typically lose the most residents. But the number of homebuyers looking to leave those places was much higher in the second quarter than the same time period a year before as remote work gives many people the freedom to leave expensive job centers in favor of more affordable locales,” wrote Redfin data journalist Dana Anderson.

Now that California has fully reopened its economy, companies are firming up their own reopening plans and deciding whether or not they will require employees to return to the office. Those that are implementing permanent work-from-home policies have given employees the flexibility to search for homes in more affordable areas of the state or country.

The top in-state search destination for Redfin users based in Los Angeles was nearby San Diego, while the top out-of-state destination was Las Vegas. According to Redfin data, the median sale price of a home in Los Angeles County is $830,000 compared to $800,000 in San Diego and $360,000 in Las Vegas.

“Remote workers and retirees are flocking to Las Vegas, especially from more expensive markets,” said Las Vegas Redfin agent Marco Di Pasqualucci.

“If someone sells their expensive house in Seattle or Los Angeles, they can come here and buy a nice, spacious house for over asking price, sometimes even in cash. The market is competitive, but it’s not as tough for folks relocating from places like Seattle or Los Angeles who are planning to pay cash,” he added.

Los Angeles was the top origin among users looking to relocate to Phoenix, Las Vegas and Dallas — all Sunbelt cities with lower costs of living that have seen their populations swell during the pandemic. During 2021’s second quarter, the metros that had the biggest net inflows (more users looking to move in than out) included Phoenix, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Miami and Tampa.

An uptick in out-of-metro home searches is playing out across the country as more companies adopt permanent remote work policies. Nationwide, 31.1 percent of Redfin users browsed homes in a different metro compared to 27.6 percent during the same period last year.

“Some pandemic trends are here to stay, and moving to a more affordable part of the country is part of the new normal,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather.

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