Opportunities are revealed in population-migration data
Some of the most fascinating reading for us data nerds is the U. S. Census Bureau’s annual population estimates.
What makes this report so fascinating is not just the population numbers alone, but the migration numbers included that show net migration gain or loss by state, metro area and county — broken down by domestic and
These migration numbers have important implications for the mortgage industry, helping to identify emerging markets
along with those that may be stagnant
or receding when it comes to growth in
Migration patterns become especially
important for identifying mortgage-origination opportunities in an environment where the growth in mortgage
origination is expected to come primarily
from purchases — as rising interest rates
erode the reliable refinance market of the
past several years.
The two counties with the biggest
positive net migration in 2017 were
Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona;
and Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada,
where 36,635 more people moved into
than moved out of the county in 2017.
Not surprisingly both of these counties
posted an increase in purchase-loan originations for residential property in 2017 — bucking the national trend,
with purchase-loan origination counts decreasing 7 percent for the year, according to an Attom Data analysis of
What may be more surprising is that among seven counties nationwide with a net-migration population gain of
at least 20,000 in 2017, only Maricopa and Clark counties posted year-over-year gains in purchase-loan originations. The remaining five counties — encompassing Riverside, California; the Dallas metro area; Tampa, Florida;
and Seattle — all posted decreasing purchase-loan originations in 2017.
This is likely because many of the new arrivals in these counties are renters before they become buyers, and many
will convert into buyers at some point in the next year or two, creating a corresponding surge in purchase originations. So, although purchase-loan origination trends do not immediately follow migration trends, mortgage
professionals should be looking at areas with increasing population due to net migration as areas where there
should be increasing home purchases in the near future. That is probably most applicable within a regional market as most mortgage professionals may not be ready to pick up and move their business across the country to
follow their potential customers — although some certainly will.
Southern California provides a prime example of how a mortgage professional might apply these net migration
findings in a regional market. The U.S. Census Bureau figures show Los Angeles County with a net-migration loss
of 42,836 in 2017 — second only to Cook County (Chicago), Illinois, nationwide in terms of net-migration loss for
the year. Meanwhile Riverside County, California, adjacent to Los Angeles County, but inland from the coast, saw
a net-migration gain of 23,397 in 2017, the third-biggest increase behind Maricopa County in Arizona and Clark
County in Nevada.
A mortgage professional operating in Southern California should be aware of this trend and adjust his or her business and marketing strategies to take advantage of it. This may include leveraging public-record data to identify
Los Angeles County homeowners who are likely to flee to the less expensive Riverside County and market to
those homeowners. Or it may mean setting up a location in Riverside County to cater to the incoming residents
on that side of the migration path. n
Daren Blomquist is senior vice president at Attom Data Solutions. With
Attom Data Solutions since 2001, he is
the company’s primary media spokes-person and an expert on the housing
market. Blomquist is executive editor
of the company’s award-winning
Housing News Report and creates
comprehensive real estate reports
cited by thousands of media outlets
and referenced by numerous entities,
from local real estate investment
clubs to multinational corporations,
universities and federal, state and local
government agencies. Reach him at
*Net migration: The difference between the number of people moving into an area and the number of people moving out of an area.
Sources: Attom Data Solutions, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau
2017 net positive population migration 2017 annual percent change in residential
Purchase-Loan Trends in Counties With the
Highest Positive Net Migration*