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Home · Property Management · Real Estate Investing · Are Seattleites ‘temporarily’ moving? New report suggests big city exodus may not be permanent

Although rental prices in the city have declined nearly 20% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been seemingly endless word-of-mouth tales about Seattleites leaving the city and flocking to the suburbs.

However, new data from Apartment List is showing that the exodus from the urban core of Seattle and other major cities may only be temporary.

The Renter Migration Report shows that interest in short-term leases nationwide has spiked since the onset of the pandemic in March, suggesting that those renters leaving expensive coastal metros might not be gone for good.

“One of the more striking trends that we observe in the most recent data is that renters who are moving now seem less willing to make long-term commitments to their new homes,” wrote the researchers. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen a steady upward trend in the share of renters looking to sign a lease of six months or less.”

The Emerald City was one of the metros that saw an interest in short-term leases (six months or less) skyrocket amid the novel coronavirus. Compared to this time last year, the city has experienced a 20% increase in outbound searches for short-term leases.

A new report from Apartment List shows that many of the moves taking place during the pandemic may end up being temporary.
A new report from Apartment List shows that many of the moves taking place during the pandemic may end up being temporary.

Apartment List

The top three destinations for people moving out of Seattle were Los Angeles, Portland and Spokane respectively. For inbound searches — people living outside of Seattle who want to move to the city — the top destinations were Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland.

San Francisco experienced the largest increase in outbound searches for short-term rentals in the country. Among those currently living in SF and looking to move elsewhere, 22.1% were looking for a short-term lease compared to just 12.6% at this time last year.

The researchers noted the the increase in short-term leases might reflect the current uncertainty about what life will look like post-COVID-19 and how long work-from-home policies will last.

“This paints a picture of renters taking advantage of the geographic flexibility provided by remote work in order to test out life someplace new,” wrote the researchers. “But given the recent volatility in labor and housing markets, as well as the uncertainty around what life will look like post-pandemic, the renters moving now are less willing to make a long-term commitment.”

While it seems that many are using the flexibility of work-from-home to try out life in a new metro, whether they return to Seattle or not is undetermined.

Early on in the pandemic when work from home was taking off, Zillow and Redfin both predicted a “suburban boom” in the real estate market with people fleeing the small living quarters of densely populated cities for larger suburban spaces.

Experts later reeled in on that prediction as it became apparent that home sales in both suburban and urban areas are actually keeping pace with each other.

But amid a softening rental market that has seen prices decline, some interesting data has emerged that suggests most people moving within urban areas are actually seeking upgrades and more space.

A Zillow report published last week found that by and large renters are staying in cities: 74% of urban renters that moved in the past year moved to another urban rental. 51% of those urban renters who moved reported paying more at their new residence for more space and better amenities.

“This suggests that many may be taking the opportunity to trade up in the rental market,” the report stated.

Source: seattlepi.com

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