Each year about 5 million Americans move across state lines. A recent study by Livability.com and Ipsos Public Affairs looked at the average number of states Americans have visited and found that the typical adult has only traveled to 12 states.
What does that mean for real estate professionals? You’re going to be more important than ever due to these five elements.
1. The freak-out factor
It’s one thing to move across town, it’s another to pack up a moving van for an interstate haul. These are hopefully exciting events, but are often made more stressful by the unknown. And according to the Livability.com/Ipsos Public Affairs survey, only three states have been “seen” (lived in or visited) by the majority of Americans: Florida, California, and New York. Therefore, expect clients moving to states other than those three to be a little more freaked out than normal.
2. Excitement gap
Relocation clients might be excited about a new job. But if their new home state is one they haven’t even bothered visiting, how interested do you think they are in actually living there? Many of the states showing high rates of interstate moves (such as North Carolina and Texas) also show single-digit interest among potential visitors. Make sure you understand how likely it is that the average American has visited your state so you can be ready to help close this gap.
If you’re working in a market that people are less familiar with, you have the opportunity to differentiate yourself with service and education. Just as much as you’re a buyer’s agent, you’re also a local tour guide and cheerleader. Help clients feel like they’ve made a great decision and everything will be OK. Yes, it’ll take more hand-holding, but these movers will appreciate it.
4. Help those who are helping your state
In a study published in American Demographics in 1988, Alaska was the only state with fewer than 22 percent of Americans reporting having lived in it or visited. Nearly 30 years later, 40 percent of states fall below that threshold. As you know, the strength of the real estate market is linked to the strength of the local economy, which is in many ways tied to the strength of its economic development (talent attraction) and tourism industries. This study shows that there are some markets that will have a tough time with both of those efforts without a solid, continued marketing effort. Talk to your local chamber of commerce or convention and visitor’s bureau to see how you can help efforts to positively position the community as a whole.
5. Some of the freak-out factor is a good kind of freak-out
A separate study from Livability/Ipsos Public Affairs asked about what would motivate people to undertake an interstate move. Nearly half said “An income increase of at least 20 percent relative to cost of living changes.” That’s twice as many as another sample that were asked if a 10 percent raise would do the trick. So the people who are coming in might well be feeling financially confident and ready to upgrade their home and lifestyle.
Source: “5 Ways Travel Patterns Matter in Real Estate,” (realtormag.realtor.org, August 2016)