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The steady drumbeat of reports about growing Seattle and the tech boom and the desire of so many people to move to the city may have finally met its match, thanks to something we like to call winter.

OK, maybe the darkness and the rain aren’t entirely to blame, but a new report from real estate technology company Redfin provided an interesting fourth-quarter blip in Seattle’s endlessly attractive narrative.

For the first time, Seattle saw more Redfin users — those shopping for a place to live — looking to leave the area than to move into it. The “negative outflow,” as Redfin calls it, is a first for the city since Redfin began tracking migration patterns a year ago.

Redfin views it as part of a larger trend among those who live in expensive, high-tax coastal cities such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., as they look to flee inland for more affordable real estate in places such as Atlanta, Nashville, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

If you’re going to look for a house in the dead of winter, why not look where it’s sunny?

(Redfin Graphic)
(Redfin Graphic)

Redfin says that among Seattle users who were looking to leave, 10.6 percent were eyeing Los Angeles. That doesn’t solve the affordability crisis, but it does solve the sunshine one.

L.A. was followed by Bellingham, Wash., which attracted eyeballs from 8 percent of users. That spells doom for those of us who were still counting on that lovely college town as a Pacific Northwest escape pod of sorts, just far enough away from Seattle and all the dreadful change.

Portland was next (see Bellingham reasoning, but five or so years ago), and Phoenix was also attractive (the sun! the sun!). Both cities also earned 8 percent of searches from Seattle users.

“People leaving coastal hubs in search of affordability has been a consistent trend for the last five years,” Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson said in the report. “Late last year there was a twist. Many of the popular migration paths that we saw users exploring yielded tax benefits along with increased affordability. We expect these trends to continue and will be monitoring them closely in 2018.”

Before you get your hopes up that a rush of housing stock is destined to become available, Seattle is still a place that most folks have no intention of leaving, at least when it comes to Redfin users:

(Redfin Graphic)

Note: Redfin’s migration analysis is based on a sample of more than 1 million users searching for homes across 75 metro areas from October through December 2017. Read the full report here.

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