According to a new Redfin report, the typical income of homebuyers in pandemic boomtowns has soared since 2019—especially in Boise, Austin, and parts of Florida.
We’re looking at ten markets with the biggest increases in homebuyer income to identify the roots of this trend as well as its impact on these areas and the housing market as a whole.
10 Markets with Biggest Increases in Homebuyer Income
Redfin’s analysis of mortgage data for 2021 versus 2019 shows dramatic increases in homebuyer incomes in areas that attracted more out-of-towners during the pandemic.
We’re focusing on the ten markets with the biggest increases.
A major reason for these increases is the influx of affluent remote workers moving in from higher-priced job centers like San Francisco and New York City.
In 2021, the average Boise homebuyer earned $98,000—24.1% more than the 2019 average, according to Redfin’s analysis.
After Boise comes Austin, followed by a quartet of Florida metros (Cape Coral, North Port, West Palm Beach, and Miami), Phoenix, Stockton, CA, Tacoma, WA, and Salt Lake City.
In all these places, the growth in homebuyer income more than doubled the national average of 6.8%.
Remote workers moving away from higher-priced metros
Of the 100 most populous U.S. metros, Boise saw the biggest increase in homebuyer income, largely because of the influx of remote workers looking for more affordable housing during the pandemic.
For white-collar workers earning high salaries, remote work is a huge financial boon. It enables them to move from a tech center like San Francisco to a more affordable part of the country like Boise or Salt Lake City, get more home for their money and save some for a rainy day.
Inflation and Housing Demand
An influx of affluent out-of-towners has intensified competition, driving up prices on the limited supply of homes. Both locals and new arrivals with higher incomes have the upper hand, while renters and homebuyers with lower incomes watch from the sidelines.
Out-of-towners, on average, had more to spend on a home in 2021 than the average local—25% more in Miami, for example, and 21% more in Phoenix.
Metros with soaring home prices, like Phoenix and Miami, are also burdened with higher inflation rates—some of the highest in the country. Bokhari expects this will eventually discourage out-of-towners from moving to these areas.
It’s not a new thing, after all, for more affordable metros to become less affordable.
Those high inflation rates cut deeper into budgets for local residents, making it harder for them to save for an eventual down payment.
Housing Prices vs. Homebuyer Income
Thanks to a combination of higher incomes, increased demand, and widespread inflation, home price growth is outpacing the rise in homebuyer incomes.
In Boise, home prices rose by 53% to $485,000 from December 2019 to December 2021—twice as fast as homebuyer incomes. Prices rose by 48% in Austin and Cape Coral.
In all ten metros on this list, home price growth has gone up more than 30% throughout the pandemic—bolting past homebuyer income and putting additional strain on budgets.
Housing market slowdowns
Unsustainable growth is nothing new for housing markets, and pandemic boomtowns are no exception.
With the rise in homeowner income and the faster rise in housing prices, housing markets in these areas are now faltering as the unsustainable price growth and high mortgage rates temper demand.
Markets like Boise, Austin, Cape Coral, North Port, Phoenix, and Tacoma have cooled the fastest during the first half of the year.
In a recession, markets like these are most likely to see home prices decline—especially Boise, Cape Coral, North Port, West Palm Beach, Miami, Stockton, and Salt Lake City, among the 25 most vulnerable markets.
Despite that vulnerability, relatively high homebuyer incomes for these markets make housing crashes unlikely.
People are still moving in from California and they still have enough money to buy nice homes in desirable neighborhoods, sometimes with all cash. But the days of homes selling for 25% over asking price with multiple offers are over. Buyers are no longer as eager now that mortgage rates are up and there’s buzz in the air about the slowing housing market. Local buyers–and even buyers coming from out of town–now have a chance to take their time and buy a home at asking price or even under asking price.
Markets where homebuyer income declined or remained the same
Those high-income homebuyers had to come from somewhere, right?
Turns out, with the increase of remote work, affluent homebuyers left high-priced metros like San Francisco during the pandemic for more affordable ones with other draws—like wide open spaces and easier access to nature.
That said, San Francisco’s homebuyer income has decreased only slightly (-1.5%) from 2019 to 2021. Baton Rouge, LA has seen a 1.2% drop in homebuyer income.
Homebuyer income stayed much the same in Akron, OH, Des Moines, IA, Louisville, KY, and New Haven, CT.
What can you do as a real estate agent?
Whether your market is seeing growth or decline in homebuyer incomes, you should know the details relevant to your clients so you can help them make informed decisions.
Some market opportunities will take priority over others, but knowing how your clients can benefit will make you their most valuable knowledge resource.