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February 3, 2012

Where Baltimore-area residents would rather be

Real estate search site Trulia says the Baltimore region is seventh on the list of metro areas with the weakest demand among the online search crowd -- specifically, more renters and homeowners looking to move out than in.

For every search on Trulia by someone outside the region checking out places for sale or rent here, there are two (or more specifically 2.2) searches by people in our area looking somewhere else. The company, which ranked the 100 largest metro areas on search demand, says big regions tend to have more people looking to leave than to arrive.

Maryland overall has seen more going than coming in recent years, starting at the height of the housing boom and continuing in a bigger way afterward, according to the state Department of Planning's analysis of IRS migration data.

That doesn't mean the population dropped, though -- it grew. As a planning agency chart in an earlier analysis shows, births outnumber deaths and international migration is also adding to the mix, even as state-to-state migration subtracts.

Trulia says Baltimore-area residents searching online for apartments and homes outside the region are most frequently checking out these places:

1. The Washington area

2. The Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick mini-metro area (usually lumped in with the D.C. area, but not always)

3. The York-Hanover area in Pennsylvania

4. New York City and environs (an area that reaches New Jersey)

5. The Philadelphia area

But what about the people who live elsewhere and are checking us out? Trulia's list made me go "whaa?" -- here's why:

It's an eerily similar list.

1. The Washington area

2. The Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick area

3. The NYC area

4. The Philadelphia area

5. The Salisbury area

A case of the grass is always greener? 

All that's missing in this list compared with the first one is York -- York County tends to draw Baltimore-area workers looking for cheaper housing, and I don't think York County-to-Baltimore moves are as common. (Certainly Maryland sends more people to Pennsylvania than the other way around.)

People also tend to move in greater numbers from the pricier Washington area to Baltimore than vice versa, though the gap narrowed as the recession set in. I suppose we'll find out down the road whether the Trulia search results suggest a change or if it's just wishful lookylooing.

Oh, and No. 3 on the weakest search-demand list, with 2.5 outbound searches for every inbound one? That's D.C. (No. 1 is Newark, N.J.)

The top 10 at the other end -- places getting more lookers-in than lookers-out -- is filled with Florida communities. Trulia looked at searches in October, November and December, so weather might have helped there.

Where are you looking to move, if you're looking?

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Housing stats


I moved from the York area to the Baltimore area. You could not pay me enough to move back there. Housing may be cheaper but I think that the gas prices driving back and forth to work makes up for it.

I've been looking to buy within the city limits, but I see this as a fatally flawed list, purely because it is only using Trulia's data. It is my least favorite of the major real estate browsing sites, so I only use it to double check info on properties that I have already found through other sources.

The question to ask is what regional areas are not included in that list -those five areas (DC,DC suburbs/Frederick, Philly, NYC) encompass the entire geographical region around the 'Baltimore-area', at least from a per capita perspective.

It would be interesting to distinguish Baltimore City vs. Baltimore County. People often harp about a net eflux of residents to the county to avoid city crime and taxes - is that found in the Trulia data?

As far as York is concerned, i ride my bicycle a lot up there.And whenever i stop to ask directions, the person i ask is almost always someone who just moved there from Baltimore

In my opinion, much of the 1995-2008 gentrification in Canton/Fed Hill/etc., was due to our proximity to DC. Im sure that most of your readers know people that commute to DC (or its suburbs) every day.

In many ways we have become a suburb of DC. There is nothing wrong with using our proximity to DC to our advantage. But we are very vulnerable to gas price increases, and Federal Budget cuts.

Excuse me for being blunt.But without our proximity to DC, we would be in the same situation as Gary,Indianna and Detroit.

Baltimore has become a "two industry town". We seem to survive solely on Johns Hopkins and the Federal Government. We need to diversify our economy. Or we will suffer the same fate that Detroit did ,when its main (and pretty much only) industry ran into trouble.

Especially since , no matter who wins the Presidency, there is little doubt that there will be large Federal Budget cuts.

A savvy Baltimore Realtor could use this information to target specific areas. Good insight of where folks in Baltimore are looking to move to and on the flip side where those moving into the city are coming from (according to Trulia). ;-)

All in all, this is bad news for an economically challenged city, that's for sure. However the reason for people to abandon their city, is because of employment opportunities, or the lack thereof. Just take a look at what happened in Detroit, and it is no wonder why it happened. However the light at the end of the tunnel is visible for Detroit, with car companies starting to hire once again, so one has to believe that Baltimore will bounce back as well... it's a great city!

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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
Baltimore Sun articles by Jamie

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