A map of the U.S. with red and blue states, and moving vans headed in two directions.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Seeing red — or blue — as politics enters homebuying decisions 

New reports from Redfin and Allied Van Lines shed light on the impact that local laws and political divides can have on buying and selling.

February 8, 2024
3 minutes

Key points:

  • Nearly a third of agents surveyed said they had at least one client in the past year who made a politically motivated move.
  • People’s reasons for moves vary widely, from the general political climate to specific issues such as reproductive rights or guns.
  • Red states are top destinations for movers, but overall, interstate moves dropped 12% last year.

Forget neighborly disputes about fence lines or noise levels. Political differences are enough to prompt some folks to move, according to a new report from Redfin.

Nearly one-third of agents surveyed said that, during the past year, they had at least one client move primarily because of state or local laws or politics.

But before you consider attracting clients with Trump or Biden signs — depending on your state's political identity — politics still appear to take a back seat to affordability and job opportunities, the report noted.

And for all the talk about people fleeing red or blue states, the Allied Van Lines 2023 Migration Report showed interstate moves continued to decline last year, dropping by 12%, a likely reflection of both the impact of higher mortgage rates and the return-to-office movement.

The stories behind the moves

The Redfin survey of 500 agents, conducted by Qualtrics, doesn't offer any details about how many blue state to red state moves were prompted by politics (or vice versa). And because it's the first time Redfin surveyed agents on the topic, there is no way to know if the numbers are typical or different from other years.

But the report does include anecdotal stories from both ends of the political spectrum.

From the retired police officer and his wife who moved from California to Idaho because they felt safer flying a "Thin Blue Line" flag supporting law enforcement in a more conservative state, to families returning to blue states because they felt safer in a place with stricter gun laws, moves influenced by politics cut both ways.

"I know at least 10 people who have moved away from Texas in the last year, mainly because they don't agree with state laws," said Andrew Vallejo, a Redfin Premier agent from Austin. "They all moved to the West Coast, to blue places where the policies align better with their personal views, specifically when it comes to women's reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights," Vallejo said.

That lines up with a previous Redfin report last summer that showed about 40% of residents in Texas and Florida would prefer to live someplace where abortion is legal.

And yet, neither state cracked the Allied migration report's list of top states people were leaving. In Florida, nearly 52% of last year's moves were inbound, making it one of the top five states for inbound moves in 2023.

Red states attracted more movers

Across the board, red states led the inbound migration in the Allied Van Lines report.

South Carolina was the top state for inbound moves, followed by Arizona, Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida. The states with more outbound moves were led by Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Washington.

And while interstate moves declined according to Allied, Redfin reported that a record share of buyers relocated to a different metro area.

The red state-blue state divide doesn't always translate to metros. Austin, Texas, for example, is a blue metro in a red state. 

According to the Allied migration report, the top inbound metro was Charlotte, South Carolina, while the top outbound metro was San Diego, California.

The Redfin report indicated that some of the most common migration routes for homebuyers last year were from blue states to red or purple states. But the top route listed was San Francisco to Austin, meaning buyers could benefit from lower state taxes, but still feel comfortable with their neighborhood politics.

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