Americans Aren’t Moving As Much As They Used To

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May 18, 2017

The migration rate, defined as the share of Americans who change residences in a given year, is down to 10.8 percent, which is six percentage points lower than it was in 1990.

According to Zillow, if as many people moved now as they did 27 years ago, 2.8 million more homes would have been sold in 2016.

Migration rates are down across all age groups, particularly among young adults and the aging population. Many homeowners have negative equity, where their homes are worth less than their outstanding mortgage.

The main reason, as Zillow theorizes, is the shift toward single-family home rentals. The share of single-family homes for rent has increased from 12.7 percent in 2005 to 19.2 percent in 2016. Investors have realized the opportunities that these properties present.

As rental homes, these properties are put up for sale less frequently – creating both more options for renters and fewer for buyers. Markets that experienced the largest increases in the share of rented single-family homes between 2000 and 2015 also saw the largest drops in single-family home turnover.

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