MBA Chart of the Week: Housing Migration: Reasons for Leaving Previous Residence During 2020 and 2021 (Nov 10 2022)

The biennial American Housing Survey (AHS), the most comprehensive national housing survey in the United States, was released earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The survey provides detailed data on housing migration (where at least one member of the respondent’s household moved during the two years before the survey). These data include responses on the distance of the move, the tenure of the respondent’s previous residence, and reasons for leaving one’s previous residence.
This week’s MBA Chart of the Week shows the reasons for leaving one’s previous residence. The three main reasons in the 2021 AHS are wanting a larger or better-quality home (17.7%), wanting a more desirable neighborhood (15.6%), and forming their own household (14.4%). In the 2019 AHS, the same top three reasons were given with similar results (16.6%, 15.3%, and 13.8%, respectively). The category with the largest drop from 2019 to 2021 was “new job or job transfer,” which fell from 7.5% to 6.4%.
Comparing the 2021 and 2019 AHS data, highlights include:
  • Of the 128.5 million households in the 2021 data, 35.4 million (27.5%) had at least one member who moved during the past two years. This compares to 27.7% in the 2019 AHS.
  • Of the respondents who reported a household member moving during the past two years, 20.3% moved more than 50 miles in the 2021 data versus 19.9% in the 2019 data.
  • For respondents who reported a household member moving during the past two years and whose previous residence was a house, an apartment, or a manufactured/mobile home, 32.5% moved from an owner-occupied unit in the 2021 AHS versus 31.5% in the 2019 data.
The AHS helps provide a richer picture of household migration prior to and during the pandemic—and corroborates what we have learned from other data sources.
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