The pace of domestic migration of homebuyers leaving their current metro area has decreased 18% in the last 12 months1, according to recent Freddie Mac research authored by Kristine Yao, macro and housing economics director, but homebuyers continue to move out of high-cost, larger metros and into more affordable areas. Which metro areas have been experiencing the largest gains and losses?

Based on a March 2023 analysis of Freddie Mac Loan Product Advisor® (LPA) data, the following tables show the metro areas with the largest 12-month net gains and losses, as well as the percentage rate of change compared to the prior year.

Overall, the number of migrating homebuyers, on a rolling 12-month period, more than tripled between March 2020 and March 2022. And though the pace of migration has slowed in the past 12 months, net migration remains elevated compared to the 12-month period ending March 2021.

The nation’s top 10 metro areas with the largest positive net migration over the past 12 months saw a 20% reduction in net migration gains compared to the previous 12-month period. Only Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla., experienced an additional net migration growth of 6%, moving up seven places to third. Interestingly, total 12-month net migration as of March 2023 into these popular destinations remained higher than it was between April 2020 and March 2021 except for two areas: Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., and North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.

Metro Areas with the Largest Net Migration Gains

Source: LPA data

For the nation’s top 10 metro areas with the largest negative net migration over the past 12 months, net migration losses slowed by 17% compared to the previous 12-month period. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla., was the lone exception, as net migration losses increased by 52%, pushing it up three places to eighth. Total net migration out of these large metro areas was higher than it was between April 2020 and March 2021 except for three areas: San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, Calif., San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., and Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis.

Metro Areas with the Largest Net Migration Losses

Source: LPA data

To track these net migration patterns, we analyzed all accepted purchase loan applications submitted to Freddie Mac’s LPA system between April 2019 and March 2023, which offers the advantage of allowing up to the minute analysis compared to U.S. Census data. We caution that the loan application data provides a limited view of conventional conforming loans rather than the total market, which includes government-backed loans, non-conforming loans and conventional conforming loan applications not submitted to Freddie Mac. Also, loan application data only captures the intent to move.

The pandemic intensified existing homebuyer migration patterns and shows a population in pursuit of affordable housing. The highest homebuyer net migration losses have occurred in high-cost, inelastic markets located in coastal areas. The metro areas experiencing the most gains in homebuyer net migration are smaller, more affordable destinations found more inland and to the south. For more information on net migration patterns, read “In Pursuit of Affordable Housing: The Migration of Homebuyers within the U.S. — Before and After the Pandemic.”

For more insights from Freddie Mac’s research team, visit Research Insights, Notes & Briefs.



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