Weather a factor: Top 5 places remote workers moved in 2020

·5 min read

The coronavirus pandemic along with a shift toward remote jobs appears to have hit a pressure point in the housing market, contributing to demand outstripping housing supply across the top 10 most popular relocation destinations, says one notable real estate agency.

Arlene Pericak and her husband, both nearing retirement age, told AccuWeather Weather National Reporter Kim Leoffler that they were looking to move to the central Florida area from Virginia.

"My husband's an avid golfer and certainly wants nice weather year-round," Pericak said.

However, a tightening housing market has made the search for a new home difficult. Whatever properties they are interested in, Pericak said, usually end up selling quickly.

"It's amazing," Pericak told Leoffler of her real estate search. She said she looks up what sellers paid for the property "and what they're selling it for seems a lot higher."

Both Miami and Orlando sit in real estate site Redfin's list of top five metro areas where people moved to in 2020, although the housing supply was down by 16.3% in Orlando and 31.3% in Tampa compared to 2019. Of the top 10 areas on Redfin's list of relocation destinations in 2020, these two cities are also the only ones with a loss in the number of building permits.

Arlene Pericak

Arlene Pericak and her husband have been trying to find a home in central Florida as they approach retirement, but a tightening housing market has proven difficult to navigate. (Kim Leoffler)

Other cities that made it to the top five include Phoenix, Dallas and Austin, along the U.S. Sun Belt -- a region considered to stretch across the lower third of the continental U.S.

The trend more or less continues when looking at the top 10 metro areas people moved to during 2020, according to data from Redfin, the list also covers Atlanta, Georgia; Greenville, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Knoxville, Tennessee.

"The most popular migration destinations tend to be in the Sun Belt," Redfin's chief economist Daryl Fairweather told Leoffler. "Warm weather is definitely something that people desire, and if you take out the job center where they need to be for work and people are allowed to go where they really want to go, they tend to go to warmer climates."

Daryl Fairweather

"The most popular migration destinations tend to be in the Sun Belt," Daryl Fairweather, the chief economist of real estate agency Redfin, told AccuWeather Weather National Reporter Kim Leoffler.

Redfin agents point to the coronavirus pandemic and an increase in remote work coupled with expensive housing as a catalyst for the uptick in relocations.

"For the past two years, I've felt like everyone is leaving Los Angeles, and that has intensified during the pandemic," Redfin Los Angeles agent Lindsay Katz said. "A lot of young families are moving back to their hometowns to be near their parents, moves they can now make because they're working remotely. People are realizing that if they leave Los Angeles and move to a place like the Midwest or Florida, they can afford to live on just one income because their mortgage is cut in half and tax bills are lower."

Los Angeles ranked as the metro area with the second-highest net outflow in 2020, according to Redfin's data, behind New York City. Other metro areas in the top five include Chicago, the Bay Area and Detroit.

The number of homes for sale in New York City increased by nearly 30% year over year in December, according to the real estate agency. In Los Angeles, that number increased by 1.4%. However, supply was down a record 34% year over year in December nationwide, particularly in the cities people are moving to -- resulting in rising prices.

"A lot of people are coming from more expensive areas like the Bay Area or New York, and they bring a bigger budget with them and they're willing to really spend top dollar to secure a home and make that move happen for them," Fairweather said.

She added that the single family home market is difficult now for buyers to navigate but suggests looking outside of the city or at condos.

"You can also look at new construction although you may have to buy really early on, like even before the home has been built, to get your deal through because builders have a big backlog right now," Fairweather warned.

Sold Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and House. (Feverpitched/Getty Images)

One area where this is particularly visible is in Charlotte, North Carolina, as people flock from larger areas to the Queen City, according to Charlotte Redfin agent Steve Cramer.

"A lot of the moves are job-related, but another driving factor is that Charlotte has a lower cost of living and a slower pace of life than the Northeast," Cramer said. "Partly because inventory here is painfully low, a lot of the buyers are turning to new construction, but builders can't keep up with demand."

He adds that while there's plenty of vacant land for sale in the Charlotte area, some builders are experiencing supply shortages due to the pandemic.

"Instead of building an entire community or phase at a time, they're limited to building four or five homes before releasing more homes for sale," Cramer said.

Regardless of the cause, the impact is hitting people from hopeful first-time homeowners to retirees. Until they can find someplace sunny, the Pericaks' search continues.

Reporting by Kim Leoffler.

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