San Francisco Tops Home Search List


They’d leave their hearts in San Francisco–if they could afford it.

Zillow Inc., Seattle, said San Francisco is among the most popular housing markets searched by non-resident home shoppers on its website–yet many locals are searching for homes outside of the area. On average, a home in the San Francisco area gets more page views from afar than 92 percent of other markets. However, 50 percent of San Francisco-based views are of homes outside the area.

The analysis examined search trends among residents in large U.S. housing markets. The promise of success in hot job markets attracts people to places such as San Francisco, but affordability could be a barrier to staying there long term. In the San Francisco metro, the median home value is just over $800,000 and the median rental payment is $3,400 a month.

“If someone lives in an expensive area, they may look for another place to live that is less expensive but offers a similar quality of life,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “Home shoppers in less expensive markets may weigh sacrificing space or cost in favor of a better job in a more expensive locale. Home search trends, in time, translate into actual moves and migration, which will have a lasting impact on the economy and landscape.”

Zillow noted the reverse in booming Portland and Seattle markets. Both are highly desirable among outsiders and places where residents don’t seem to want to leave. Homes in Portland get more page views from outside the area than 94 percent of other markets, while just 29 percent of views originating in Portland are of homes outside of the area.

Search patterns in Austin are similar to those of San Francisco. On average, a home in Austin gets more page views from outside searches than 86 percent of other destinations, but more than half of Austin-based views are of homes outside the area. Home value growth in Austin is outpacing San Francisco’s, up 9 percent over the past year.

On the flip side, those who live in New Orleans, Miami and Detroit are looking for homes in other places, and few outsiders are looking to move in. In Minneapolis, New York and Pittsburgh, most home shoppers are from within the area–just 29 percent of current Minneapolis-area shoppers are looking elsewhere for homes.