Market Update

Who is coming & going? A huge question to ask in real estate

It’s probably not surprising to hear, but California lately has been having more residents leave than come. Of course other states are feeling this too because they’re now welcoming (or not) West Coast refugees. Let’s talk about this. Here are a few things on my mind.

Why are people moving?

Cashing out at the top: In coming time I expect we’ll see more migration if sellers think the top of the price market is near. I suspect we’ll see this dynamic in the Bay Area too, though they may eye a lower-priced Sacramento instead of out-of-state.

Changing markets: Migration can change a local real estate market in the obvious way of increasing prices and tightening supply, but it can also spur new construction and commercial development. We have to remember builders sometimes even cater their product to buyers coming from out-of-town. This is why locals sometimes look at a project and say, “Who can afford this?” Well, the answer might be wealthy out-of-towners.


1) Local publications: I’m digesting what the Sacramento Bee, Sacramento Business Journal, and Comstock’s Magazine have to say about trends. Here’s a 2018 piece from SacBee that states locals moved most often to Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Seattle, & Austin. I don’t have updated stats yet, but I’m guessing Boise might make this list at some point. Here’s a piece from SacBiz talking about general migration issues. Additionally, the Greater Sacramento Economic Council is essential since they focus heavily on Bay Area migration.

2) Word on the street:What is the real estate community saying? Where are people coming from? And where are they leaving to? These are often clues what is happening in the trenches of escrows. I saw a Realtor recently provide a workshop on how to move to Idaho too, and that’s certainly a reflection of the times (and forward-thinking).

3) National publications & data: I’m paying attention to studies from Redfin, Zillow, and other organizations. I’m also keen on articles discussing US residents migrating to the middle of the country. Lots of these studies and articles of course pull data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Here is some research from the Legislative Anaylist’s Office (this is a couple years old but some of the best stuff I’ve seen).

4) Moving companies: One way to get a sense of migration patterns is to listen to moving companies. For instance, SF Gate published a piece a few months back stating more people took a one-way U-Haul trip to Sacramento and Roseville from the Bay Area than any other location last year. Newspapers tend to publish stats like this, so it’s not like you have to go read studies. Here’s a sampling of migration reports though from Atlas Van LinesUnited Van Lines, and North American Moving Services.

I hope that was helpful.

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