When Californians move out of state, do they bring high home prices with them?

ByMichael Finney KGO logo
Thursday, December 30, 2021
Are Californians to blame for rising home prices in other states?
Are Californians to blame for rising home prices in other states? Analysts say no.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Do high housing prices arrive with transplanted Californians? We hear that a lot, but maybe the math is not so simple.

When our sister station in San Francisco, KGO-TV, first interviewed the industry expert, Gift Card Girlfriend Shelley Hunter, she lived in Danville. That was then and this is now. Hunter moved with her family to Boise, Idaho four years ago and has not looked back.

"Cost of living is a lot less and people are really friendly and it has been a great move for us," Hunter tells me. "To be honest with you I love the Bay Area, but the cost of living was affecting our quality of life so much that I just knew it was time for a change."

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Hunter has run into resentment. Wherever Californians show up, from Boise to Seattle to Austin, locals are not too happy with equity-rich Californians. KGO-TV asked Hunter if locals blamed her for higher prices.

"Yes, there is a not a ton of love for people from California," she says. "I'll be honest with you, but for me I feel like most of the people who have moved here share the reason I moved here."

She says they are embracing Idaho, not trying to make it like California. Still, are the locals right? Is Hunter -- and those like her -- the cause of rising home prices? Here's Zillow economist, Nicole Bachaud.

"We get that question a lot," she says. "'Oh well, California is coming and that's why Austin home prices are so high,' and you know, the number of people from California that moved to Austin is so small compared to the growth of the market overall that it's not really making a big dent at all."

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Now there is your headline and it is not just Austin, it is Seattle, Boise, Sarasota and all the rest. More people and slow building drives up the cost of housing. Californians certainly add to the numbers, but they and their home equity is not seen by Zillow as the driving force.

"So you know we have people moving from a whole different parts of the country to all of the different parts of the country," says Zillow's Nicole Bachaud. "We have people moving out of California to Texas; we have also people moving out of Texas to California."

So the next time someone tells you our house-rich friends are ruining their towns, feel free to fire back: no it is your people moving here that is causing our home prices to go up.