San Francisco is one of the most popular housing markets searched by non-resident home shoppers on Zillow, yet many locals are searching for homes outside of the area, according to a new Zillow study that analyzed search data in the largest U.S. markets.
On average, a home in the San Francisco area gets more page views from afar than 92 percent of other markets. However, 50 percent of San Francisco-based views are of homes outside the area.
The analysis sheds light on search trends among residents in large U.S. housing markets. The promise of success in hot job markets attracts people to places like San Francisco, but affordability may be a barrier to staying there long term. In the San Francisco metro, the median home value is just over $800,000 and the median rental payment is $3,400 a month.
The reverse is happening in booming Portland and Seattle markets. Both are highly desirable among outsiders and places where residents don't seem to want to leave. Homes in Portland get more page views from outside the area than 94 percent of other markets, while just 29 percent of views originating in Portland are of homes outside of the area.
"We look at home searches to get a read on people's housing aspirations and how they feel about housing and quality of life in their city, as well as their actual intentions to move into or out of a given area," said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "If someone lives in an expensive area, they may look for another place to live that is less expensive but offers a similar quality of life. Home shoppers in less expensive markets may weigh sacrificing space or cost in favor of a better job in a more expensive locale. Home search trends, in time, translate into actual moves and migration, which will have a lasting impact on the economy and landscape."
Search patterns in Austin are similar to those of San Francisco. On average, a home in Austin gets more page views from outside searches than 86 percent of other destinations, but over half of Austin-based views are of homes outside the area. Home value growth in Austin is outpacing San Francisco's, up 9 percent over the past year.
Those who live in New Orleans, Miami and Detroit are looking for homes in other places, and few outsiders are looking to move in.
In Minneapolis, New York and Pittsburgh, most home shoppers are from within the area -- just 29 percent of current Minneapolis-area shoppers are looking elsewhere for homes.