Americans are on the move due to housing concerns
August 8, 2014
It's hard to find an affordable home these days, which is why The New York Times reported that the number of people who cited housing—not a change in employment—as the driving force behind a move in 2014 has more than doubled since 2007.
Oklahoma City is one of the nation's fastest-growing cities.
That probably won't change anytime soon. Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, said the affordability of homes is a persistent thorn in the sides of prospective buyers as appreciation values have driven up prices.
In fact, RealtyTrac recently reported that housing is now less affordable in more than one-third of all U.S. counties compared to the last 14 years, meaning the percentage of income needed to buy a median-priced home is now more than what was required in any year since 2000. The jump in the least affordable counties was especially drastic from 2013 to 2014, as those counties climbed from 19 percent to 33 percent. RealtyTrac revealed nearly a fifth of the U.S. population resides in these counties.
Americans flocking inward
When real estate company Redfin first started offering its services in 2006, Glen Kelman, chief executive of the firm, told The New York Times he figured business would be at its best in coastal cities. But as the tide of affordability started to turn, Kelman found his initial assessment washing away.
“Now we're growing fastest in the middle of the country; we can't hire people fast enough in Houston, in Dallas, in Denver,” Kelman said. “And all of our customers come from the same place—the airport. Maybe the middle class hasn't disappeared; maybe it's just gone somewhere else.”
Heartland metro regions such as Oklahoma City have noticed a major boost in population. The Times claimed Oklahoma City was the 12th-fastest-growing city in the nation in 2013. Americans are heading there for its home affordability and robust employment opportunities. The Times stated Columbus, Ohio, Little Rock, Arkansas, El Paso, Texas, and San Antonio are all cities experiencing comparable growth for similar reasons.
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When looking at past housing trends, the Times reported Americans left failing industrial centers such as Pittsburgh and Detroit for a better life in the Sun Belt. Now, people are increasingly abandoning lavish cities such as New York and San Francisco for cheaper alternatives.
Kelman said one of the biggest driving factors behind the change is that it's harder to get a mortgage than it was in previous decades. Before the housing bubble burst, many Americans had no trouble landing big loans for expensive homes with modest salaries. That's not the case anymore.
“People have no choice,” Kelman said. “They can't move across the street; they have to move across the country.”
Surprisingly, a report from RealtyTrac called one of the cities with previous abandonment issues a hotspot for young families because of its affordability. RealtyTrac said Fayette County—which encompasses a part of Pittsburgh—provides prospective homebuyers with plenty of affordable options. Median homes are $50,000, while the region's median household income is $41,606, making the area a solid option for young families interested in what the city has to offer.
Unlike affordable rural areas, Pittsburgh has a slew of options when it comes to nightlife and entertainment. In addition to the slew of colleges that are scattered throughout the city—including Pitt, Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon—the city is also home to a trio of professional sports teams: the NFL's Steelers, the NHL's Penguins and the MLB's Pirates.