CoreLogic says it is now able to closely track household mobility through various data sets including property taxes and sales transactions.  Some counties update these records on a weekly basis and the data allows drilling down to individual census blocks or even parcels.  This information can be used to augment more traditional Census Bureau records, and permits CoreLogic to track distinct customers through their chain of home purchases.

CoreLogic senior economist Kristine Yao used this new tool to talk about homeowner mobility and migration trends in the most recent edition of the company's on-line magazine MarketPulse.  Her article joins recent reports from Freddie Mac, the National Association of Realtors®, and the Urban Institute addressing the decline in mobility.  Yao says the median time between the recorded purchase and the subsequent sale of homes nationally was 4.4 years in 1985 bit had increased to 6.6 years by 2015.  Yao says this trend is similar to that noted in the Census Bureau's latest Current Population Survey; only 5.1 percent of owner-occupied households moved between 2014 and 2015 compared to 9.2 percent between 1987 and 1988.



When people did move last year, Yao says, 61 percent stayed within the same metropolitan area while only 24.6 percent moved to a different state, a 15 year-low. Those who moved within their own metro area tended to trade up, buying a home that was a median of $61,000 more costly than the old one. However, those who moved to another state tended to buy laterally - paying about the same for the new home as they had gotten for the old one.

CoreLogic makes no assumptions about the reasons behind inter-state moves, but Yao does say that more of them sold in high appreciation areas and moved to low appreciation markets with California having the heaviest out-migration.  Californians sold their homes for a median of $495k and bought for a median of $315,000 in their new locale.  This allowed them to gain median equity of 35 percent. And apparently without lowering their housing standard.  The median price they paid on moving put them into the 77th percentile of housing costs, a 15-percentage point increase over the percentile of their old California digs.

There also appears to be a bit of a population shift going on, one benefitting the Sun Belt.  Yao notes that, among the states with the greatest in and outflow between 2000 and 2015, New Jersey had the greatest ratio of inbound v outbound, 2: 64.  California followed with 2:53, along with Illinois (1:79), Virginia (1:37), Colorado (1:18) and Pennsylvania.  The remaining four states had more owners moving in than leaving starting with Texas (0:96), Florida (0:92), Arizona (0:75) and North Carolina (0:72.)



The declining mobility is not without repercussions; most obviously, it could result in lower home sales and tighter inventories.  CoreLogic says it might also impact the home improvement sector, quoting a study from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies.  Emerging trends in the Remodeling Market, published in 2015, said "Households tend to spend more on home improvements both when they are putting their homes on the market and during the first several years after purchase.  Thus, lowered mobility would have a negative impact on this spending. On the other hand, by staying put, homeowners will build equity, and that will lower the risk of default.