DENVER (KDVR) — Yes, it is Californians that made Colorado so unaffordable.

More precisely, deep-pocketed transplants played an outsized role in the blazing spike in Denver-area home prices, as well as national prices.

Redfin, a national real estate brokerage firm, released data Thursday that shows a national pattern of highly paid workers from major job hubs bringing large salaries with them to more affordable areas through the late 2010s and early 2020s.

Redfin’s data analysis includes U.S. cities with at least 1,500 Redfin.com home searchers from inside the metro and 1,500 from outside the metro from January through June 2022. 

Over the past five years, the people moving into Colorado have had significantly higher budgets than the people already living in the Centennial State. The trend is especially clear in Denver in 2020 and the years afterward.

The year before the COVID-19 pandemic began, transplants looking for homes in the Denver area had a housing budget 3.8% higher than Colorado residents.

That changed in 2020 when COVID restrictions triggered a race for space. That year, transplants’ housing budgets were 16.5% higher than people already in Colorado, the equivalent of $100,000 for the current median-priced home.

Transplants have continued to hold higher home budgets. In 2021, they had 15% more to spend on housing and 11.8% more through June 2022.

Redfin’s migration data says transplants came from everywhere, but the biggest chunk was from California.

Almost 23.8% of Colorado move-likely housing searches were from California in the third quarter of 2020, according to Redfin migration data — several times more than any other state. Three-quarters came from California, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Washington and New York.

For each quarter going back to 2017, California was the largest out-of-state source of housing searches for Colorado. In any given quarter back through 2018, between one-third and one-fifth were from California. This agrees with IRS data that pinpoints California as the single-largest source of relocations to Colorado from 2010 to 2018.

Deputy chief economist Taylor Marr said this has been the trend in the Mountain West for years.

Tech workers priced out of Silicon Valley, he said, have been steadily migrating to Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Boise and Denver, among other western locales that have also seen massive spikes in housing costs in the past five years. Similar trends are taking place on the East Coast, with New York City remote workers relocating to Florida, Nashville or Philadelphia.