Mover Metrics: To And From Mobility Maps Covid Reflex

Here are top 10 metros by net inflow among users, and their top origin metros.

John McManus June 25th, 2021

It's American to fall in love with manifest destiny's time-traveling power to reignite on demand, fortifying established empires and galvanizing new ones.

A pandemic trope, of a dynamic market-flow of newly mobilized, motivated, and untethered Americans reshaping communities and re-scaping geography, sparks altered scenarios, freshly modeled business forecasts, and a good deal of movement among the wagers of big capital from one place to another in real estate's investment gaming tables.

Behavioral data, turbocharged by machine learning, and hitched to predictive AI models, have emerged as economic belles of the ball. Linkages that tie online search and engagement to mobility and migration – particularly around residential exits and destinations -- are flashing new patterns those with big bets in the real estate space have never before gotten to look at before.

Redfin – an installed base of real estate agents paired with a real-time enriched search and transaction property-to-people knowledge base – offers a glimpse at today's movers its business strategists assert creates a predictive dashboard of how and where investors should move their respective chips.

A top line inference from Redfin's read on what's happening in mobility and migration aligns with a notion that Americans are "re-homing" as they navigate a new set of rules and options in a world that has been hit by, but not quite freed from, Covid-19 and its aftermath.

Nearly one out of every three of today's "movers" seeks refuge from his, her, or their current metro area, which is a larger percentage than typical, and sharply in contrast to a few months' earlier analysis of Census mobility figures in this Bloomberg piece from April.

Even in the biggest metro areas, most people didn’t go very far. In the country’s 50 most populous cities, 84% of the moves were to somewhere within the perimeter of the central metro area, down just slightly from pre-pandemic levels. Many of the most local moves were likely related to the economic downturn: A February Pew Research Center survey of those who moved during the pandemic found that the most common reason people cited was financial distress including job loss.

Comparisons, Redfin execs would fairly say, are apples to oranges, considering that Census data and Redfin data measure entirely different trends from different sets of inputs.

Source: Redfin
Nationwide, 31.4% of users looked to move to a different metro area in April and May, roughly the same share as the first quarter and up from 27% a year earlier. Although the overall housing market is starting to stabilize after a red-hot start to the year, homebuyer interest in relocating remains elevated above pre-pandemic levels and Redfin agents in popular destinations say they’re still seeing an influx of out-of-towners.

Among the take-aways from observations and insights of this sort is real estate and community development's romance with better ways to skin the cat of predictability. Machine learning is a fabulous dimension of capability, and goes very well with common sense, wisdom, and vision in terms of how people today, for the mid-term aftermath of the pandemic, and for the long-haul will home in on places they'll value as a destination they can live with and in.

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John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.


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