Remote workers pushed up incomes and home prices in Boise, Austin and other “pandemic boomtowns”

Note: Home price change measured from December 2019 to December 2021; Data: Redfin analysis of HMDA data; Chart: Skye Witley/Axios

The remote work arbitrage ain’t what it used to be. I’m talking about the pandemic-fueled phenomenon of white collar workers, suddenly free to work from home, leveraging their higher salaries to buy homes in cheaper areas.

The big picture: All those remote workers drove up home prices in the formerly inexpensive areas, and made them more expensive. (Rents surged, too.)

  • In these “pandemic boomtowns,” like Boise and Austin, homebuyer incomes (the wages of all the fancy newcomers) soared over the past two years — and home prices went up right along with them, according to a new Redfin analysis of federal mortgage lending data shared exclusively with Axios.
  • In Boise, the poster-child of pandemic real estate, the median income for home buyers in 2021 was $98,000 — a 24% increase from two years prior. Meanwhile, home prices surged 53% in that time period.
  • In Austin, it was $137,000 — up 19%.

On the flip side: Homebuyer incomes fell 1.5% in San Francisco, as those workers fled for cheaper surroundings.

  • SF and Baton Rouge, La., are the only major metro areas where home prices fell in the two years Redfin examined.
  • But maybe don’t pack your bags for SF unless you’re a millionaire… the city’s median home price dropped just 0.5% to $1.58 million.

What’s next: These booms aren’t busting, per se, but they’re slowing down as higher mortgage rates along with the higher prices crush demand.

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