Most homebuyers considering a move are looking to relocate relatively close to their current home, according to new data released Thursday from proptech company OJO Labs.

One of the prevailing narratives of the pandemic housing market has been “the great migration” — wherein white-collar workers, freed from the constraints of the office by remote work, have packed up and moved to their dream location, putting pressure on the housing supply in newly-hot markets. 

But new data from the proptech company OJO Labs suggests that more homebuyers are looking to relocate within 50 miles or less than their current home, despite what the prevailing narratives suggest.

According to an OJO Labs survey of 514 people who filled out forms requesting more information on buying homes, 41 percent were looking for a home within six to 50 miles of their current homes, while 36 percent of respondents said they were looking to relocate within just five miles of their current house. 

Just 9 percent said they were looking to move 51 to 200 miles from their current address, 4 percent were looking to move 201 to 500 miles, while 11 percent were looking to move more than 500 miles away.

While there’s no doubt that a significant amount of people have picked up stakes and moved to a new locale during the pandemic, most relocators are following the same patterns of moving that have been the norm for generations, argues John Berkowitz, CEO of OJO Labs. The chief difference is, most people relocating to an entirely new city tend to be wealthier, while those making less dramatic moves are typically middle class or lower. 

“Talking about The Great Migration masks the reality of homeownership and homeownership issues in America,” Berkowitz said. “The reality is that people are moving in the same way they always have been, and the talk of the Great Migration shows the separation of reality in how we focus more on the rich, and the middle and lower classes are often forgotten.”

While much has also been made of the migration of urban-dwellers to suburbs and rural areas, the OJO Labs survey found that 63 percent of urban dwellers were looking to stay in an urban area and 25 percent were looking to move to the suburbs, and just 12 percent were looking to move somewhere rural. 

The survey also quizzed respondents on their reasons for wanting to relocate. The largest amount of respondents — 39 percent — said they were looking for a new home that better fit their lifestyle, such as one with more space, or one that was closer to friends, family or their job. 

The second largest cohort, at 36 percent, said lifestyle changes such as getting married or having children motivated their move. 14 percent said they were buying as an investment, while 11 percent said they wanted to buy due to favorable market conditions.

Email Ben Verde

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