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Near, Far, Wherever: Find Out Who’s Moving to Your Town

Florida Realtors economists: Where do most buyers come from? It’s no secret: Lots of people are on the move, and if you know they’re relocating locally or coming from afar, you can adjust your approach to client prospecting. To help, Florida Realtors’ research team studied moving patterns.

ORLANDO, Fla. – If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times – a lot of people are moving to Florida every day. But there are also plenty of people moving around Florida as well.

Whether moving in or moving around, it all translates into opportunities for you to transact business. While it may seem that people moving within the state are similar to those moving from another state, the approach to client prospecting can differ. Knowing the mix in your particular area can help you come up with the best ways to find new clients and serve the ones you have.

So how can you find out what’s going on in your local area? The American Community Survey (ACS), administered by the U.S. Census Bureau, is the premier source for detailed population and housing information in the country. Although a gold standard, the ACS data isn’t the timeliest source.

Alternatively, Florida Realtors®’ Research team determined moving patterns for 2020 from change-of-address filings for individuals and families submitted to the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Data from USPS does not include international movers, and three geographic buckets were established: people who move within the same county, people who move from a different county within Florida, and people who move from a different state.

The 2019 American Community Survey indicated that 8% moved within the same county, 3.1% moved from a different county within Florida, and 2.8% moved from a different state. Overall, 15% of Floridians moved that year, including 1% from abroad.

But trends varied wildly among different counties. Take a look at 2019 geographic mobility for your area on data.census.gov for more info.

For 2020, Florida Realtors calculated a residential amount by combining individual and family USPS filings, though it’s important to note that a family represents an unspecified count of people. Also, movers can be renters or buyers.

This graphic gives a heads-up display for what’s happening in your area based on the USPS data. Put simply, the pie chart looks at the three main buckets of people, focusing only on people who filed a change of address in 2020 in Florida (excluding people coming from abroad).

If your area has a large slice of orange:

A lot of people come from a “different state.” (We’re looking at you, Sumter.) These people are particularly important for your business but require a different level of service. Not being local, they rely more on your expertise to help them winnow down to specific areas. Be prepared to sell more than a home – brush up on the amenities different communities offer, including restaurants, retail and other aspects that make each place desirable.

By working well with an out-of-state client, you could potentially become the “go-to” Realtor for the rest of your client’s network because people generally move to areas where they already know people, and then encourage others to follow. Making an extra effort to remove friction during a large move could pay dividends down the line when the rest of their family, or friends of their family, look to relocate.

Also, you may be expected to play a more involved role for buyers willing to purchase homes sight unseen. Realtors able to step up and step in will likely create a tremendous loyalty and clients for life.

If your area has a large slice of green:

People are local-ish. A deeper dive into the data can reveal if these are small moves that technically cross county lines, or if these are larger – like Central Florida to South Florida moves. It’s worth checking out what’s going on in your area as those are pretty different.

Once you figure out what’s going on, think about the things that pull people to your area. Are they attracted to different job opportunities, more affordability, or amenities – there’s a myriad of reasons to move! Once you know what drives people in, figure out ways you can target them. New employer on a hiring spree? Connect with their HR person and see if you can be the Realtor of choice for their new employees. Certain kind of lifestyle appealing to people? Engage with meetup groups that cater to it. Socializing often leads to business opportunities.

If you see a lot of gray:

Stick to your turf, as most movement happens in your own backyard. Make connections locally – consider professional organizations or volunteer opportunities where you can connect with your peers and potential homebuyers. Think about how you can target people who have lived in their homes for a while and may have outgrown their space but want to remain in the area.

Whatever your pie:

Acknowledge how it is sliced. Different proportions indicate unique tactics to apply to prospecting. Also, remember that the pieces can change size, which will influence what future strategies to pursue.

Erica Plemmons is an economist and Florida Realtors Director of Housing Statistics, Jennifer Quinn is a Florida Realtors economist and the Director of Economic Development

© 2021 Florida Realtors®

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