What U-Haul Teaches Us About Housing

Posted by: Peter Coy on June 23, 2006

U-Haul.jpg
You can learn a lot about what market’s hot and what’s not by looking up how much U-Haul charges for rentals of moving trucks to and from different cities. If U-Haul charges a lot to go to a certain city, it means lots of trucks are heading there. The city is popular and trucks that are leaving it are deadheading—going back empty. On the other hand, U-Haul gives better deals on trucks that are going to unpopular cities, because it needs to get more trucks to those cities to handle outbound trips.
Going by the U-Haul measure, San Jose is a lot colder than Phoenix. It costs $1,307 to rent a 26-foot truck from San Jose to Phoenix on June 30, but only $132 to go the opposite direction. You can plug in your own city pairs by visiting the U-Haul website.

Reader Comments

mover not shaker

June 23, 2006 8:01 PM

Well, I plugged in Boise, ID and Manhattan, NY. It's 3 times more expensive to move from Manhattan to Boise. I hardly think Boise's market is hotter. The theory works the other way around, because standard of living drives up U-Haul costs.

Gary Anderson

June 24, 2006 11:57 PM

If you go to http://bubblemeter.blogspot.com you will see that on the first page there is an articl about Surprise Arizona RE market tanking. Inventory is now over 45,000 homes for sale for a city of 3.8 million. I would say these folks are moving and renting, because the market is about ready to crash and has crashed in places like surprised. So, using the popularity moving meter means little at this point in the housing crash.

Kimsan

June 27, 2006 1:27 PM

I try Long Beach, Ca and Houston, Tx. It's cheaper from Houston to Long Beach. So It works the opposite way

otis wildflower

July 3, 2006 6:34 PM

I would also be interested to see this data cross-referenced by the relative levels of individual and corporate taxation between these cities.. See how much the difference in taxation relates to the cost of the relocation...

Chaz

July 13, 2006 10:56 AM

Lol, I have worked for U-haul. And it works like this. If you are LEAVING a city of very high demand, and going to a city of low demand the rate will be higher, than if you are leaving a city of low demand and going to a city of high demand.

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BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.

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