relocating to atlanta couple carrying boxes into new home

For those considering relocating to Atlanta or another Sunbelt city, here is news you should know. Metros such as Phoenix, Tampa and Atlanta are still relatively affordable, but scores of new residents and high inflation means the financial benefit of living there is diminishing.

Considering relocating to Atlanta? Atlanta is a HOT migration destination for homebuyers. In fact, many of the sunbelt cities —Phoenix, Tampa and Atlanta—are hot for relocation, but unfortunately these red hot cities also have red hot inflation rates. According to Redfin, some of the highest inflation rates in the U.S. can be found in sunbelt cities.

In Phoenix, prices of goods and services rose 10.9% year over year in the first quarter on average, the highest inflation rate of the metros in this analysis. Phoenix was also the second-most popular destination for homebuyers looking to move from one metro to another in the first quarter, behind only Miami, according to Redfin’s migration data.

Atlanta, the 10th-most popular migration destination, had the second-highest inflation rate (10.6%). And Tampa, with a 9.9% increase in prices, clocks in at number three for both inflation and migration.

San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C. follow the opposite trend. San Francisco, which tops the list of metros homebuyers moved away from in the first quarter, has a 5.2% inflation rate, the lowest in the country and roughly half that of Phoenix, Tampa and Atlanta. New York, with the second-lowest inflation rate (5.4%), is the number-three place homebuyers left.

Nationwide, prices were up 8.5% year over year in March, the highest rate in 40 years. Policymakers consider 2% an acceptable level of inflation.

“Not everyone in the country is experiencing inflation the same way,” said Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr. “It’s having an especially big impact in places like Tampa and Phoenix, which are attracting the most new residents and seeing double-digit increases in prices overall and even bigger increases in housing costs. We need to build more new homes in these Sun Belt hot spots to ease some of the competition for local homebuyers. That’s especially important as everyday costs like paying rent and buying food become more burdensome. In Atlanta, for instance, wages are up about 7% from a year ago but inflation is up 10% and asking rents are up 22%. That means it’s becoming more difficult to save for a down payment and break into homeownership even before you factor in sky-high home prices and rising mortgage rates.”

“The good news is that because most families own their home, they’re building wealth from rising home values, even if they are paying more for everything else,” Marr continued. “There’s also a bright spot for prospective buyers: I expect competition to slow down in the coming months as mortgage rates rise and some buyers back out of the market, and wage gains are likely to continue increasing.”

Home prices are skyrocketing in America’s most popular destinations, partly because so many people are moving in—a record share of homebuyers relocated in the first quarter. Rapidly rising home prices are one contributor to inflation.

Phoenix home prices increased 27% year over year to $470,000 in March, and they were up 29% to $364,000 in Tampa and 22% to $368,000 in Atlanta—that’s compared with a 17% nationwide increase. Home-price increases were comparatively small in the places people are leaving, up 11% year over year to $1,580,000 in San Francisco, 8% to $678,000 in New York and 9% to $525,000 in Washington, D.C.

The financial benefit of moving to relatively affordable areas will eventually diminish

Although the national housing market is showing signs of a cooldown, Sun Belt metros like Phoenix, Tampa and Atlanta will remain attractive to out-of-town homebuyers. Pandemic-fueled remote work is here to stay, and people will continue to sell homes in pricey coastal job centers like San Francisco and Seattle in favor of comparatively affordable, warmer metros.

But the trend may slow in the future as the financial benefit of living in a place like Phoenix diminishes. Homes are becoming less affordable more quickly in Sun Belt metros than in coastal areas. Homebuyers in Phoenix, for instance, need to earn 46% more than they did a year ago to afford the area’s typical monthly mortgage payment, compared with 26% more in San Francisco.

The relationship between migration and inflation increased in 2021

The relationship between migration and inflation has strengthened significantly as more people relocate from expensive coastal cities to more affordable metro areas.

More than half of the variation in inflation rates between metro areas in 2021 can be explained by domestic migration. But in the preceding decade, from 2010 to 2020, a much smaller share—around 24%—of the variation could be explained by migration.

To view the full report, including charts and methodology, visit:

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