House Hunters Drawn By Warmers Climes…and High Unemployment?

by Shilpi Paul

According to data that was unearthed by the analytical team at Trulia, house hunters are looking for large homes in warm climates…in cities with poor job prospects.

The site’s Spring 2012 Metro Movers report, which diagnoses a few trends gleaned from property searches conducted on the real estate website between April 2011 and March 2012 found that, surprisingly, most long-distance searchers looked for homes in markets with higher unemployment and slower job growth than where they currently live. The top searches were for homes in the South and West, and people were 1.8 times more likely to look for a home in a place with warm winters than a place with cold winters.

House Hunters Drawn By Warmers Climes...and High Unemployment?: Figure 1
Courtesy of Trulia Trends.

The numbers also revealed that long-distance house hunters are prone to look for homes in markets that have seen big price drops in the past few years. “People gravitate toward great deals when they search far from home, but finding a job in those markets might be a challenge,” said Jed Kolko, Trulia’s Chief Economist. “Markets where home prices fell more during the bust also have slower job growth and higher unemployment. A cheap house is no bargain if you can’t find a job that lets you pay the mortgage.”

House Hunters Drawn By Warmers Climes...and High Unemployment?: Figure 2
Courtesy of Trulia Trends.

While interesting date, these trends only apply to long-distance searches, which make up a relatively small proportion of Trulia searches (about 20 percent span more than 500 miles).

A trend that ran throughout all the data is that of urban dwellers looking for a house in the nearby suburbs — in fact, the list of top searches overall is dominated by this sort of searching (DC residents looking at homes in Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick was the tenth most common occurrence). With all the talk of the return of cities, it looks like a single-family home in the suburbs still holds appeal.

From Trulia Trends:

When people look from dense cities to sprawling suburbs, it’s partly because that’s where the homes are available at the price they can afford. In the future, people could start looking more toward big cities if baby boomers want to leave the suburbs; if rising gas prices make commuting from the suburbs too expensive; or if government policies become less biased against cities. But for now, people still have their eye on the ‘burbs.

While Trulia has access to a trove of home search data, the fact that they don’t incorporate home sales into their analysis could mean that these findings are, in part, about day dreaming. That is, people just logging on to Trulia to see if the grass is any greener in warmer climates…while sticking with their jobs and sweaters on the Eastern seaboard.

See other articles related to: trulia trends, jed kolko

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/house_hunters_looking_for_warmers_climes/5549

1 Comment

  1. saladman8283 said at 7:25 pm on Thursday May 17, 2012:
    Interesting that "Bethesda/Rockville/Frederick" is considered one market.

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