There are some parts of the country where locals seem to have their bags packed practically from birth—ready to move at a moment’s notice. And then there are others where they put down deep roots, sometimes forever.
So which markets are seeing the most churn? Contrary to what you might think, it’s not the big melting pots of New York and Los Angeles. Instead, the little-known port city of Wilmington, NC, topped the list in the second quarter of the year, according to a quarterly index created by real estate information firm ATTOM Data Solutions.
The report looked at 131 metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 single-family homes and condos. (Metros are large cities and their surrounding suburbs and towns.) ATTOM created an index from data collected from mortgage applications for residential sales to show the average ratio of homes likely to be sold in a metro.
“This is really a little bit of a heat check on real estate markets where we are expecting to see either strong sales or weak sales,” says Daren Blomquist, a senior vice president at ATTOM. “This [report] points to which markets are going to have strong home sales in the third quarter—and which ones aren’t.”
Wilmington, where the popular ’90s TV series “Dawson’s Creek” was filmed, is known for its beaches and being the home of the University of North Carolina Wilmington. And it’s becoming a go-to spot for seniors who moved from the snowy Northeast to sunny Florida, didn’t like it, and settled on someplace warm in the middle.
Its home prices aren’t cheap—but are much less expensive than many of the bigger East and West Coast cities. The median list price was $329,050 in the metro area, roughly the same as a year earlier, according to realtor.com® data. And the unemployment rate was 3.9% in June—just under the national number of 4%.
Blomquist sees a lot of folks moving into Wilmington and Colorado Springs. But in DC, there are a lot of people moving in and out.
Where are homeowners sticking around?
On the other end of the spectrum are homeowners who plan to stay put. They’re most likely to do just that in Providence, RI; Albany, NY; Silicon Valley’s ultrapricey San Jose, CA; Buffalo, NY; and Cleveland.
“One of the common things I see in these markets is there’s either not a strong demand for homes from buyers or there’s not a lot of homes to sell,” Blomquist says. “San Jose is an example of … plenty of demand, but there’s not a lot of inventory. So homes are not changing hands at a higher rate.”
Median home prices in Providence, the state capital of Rhode Island, were a little higher than Wilmington, at $349,950. Founded in 1636, Providence is home to schools such as the Ivy League Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, and the Rhode Island School of Design among others.
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