How long is the "chain" of moving, when people move?
December 14, 2013 8:05 AM   Subscribe

We're moving to a new house, and the people in that house are moving somewhere ... and someone is moving into our place, and probably someone is moving into the place they left... How long, typically, is one of these "chains" of moving, which are terminated by vacancies on each end?
posted by dmd to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have no idea how to answer this, but you also need to take into account people who are moving into new construction.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:28 AM on December 14, 2013

I can't imagine who would track this kind of thing... it probably depends on the time of year and location. Or, like, in Montreal, where almost every lease begins on July 1, the entire city moves on the same day.
posted by elizeh at 8:29 AM on December 14, 2013 [11 favorites]

Isn't the chain ultimately "terminated" when you get to the PERSON who has terminated?
posted by calgirl at 8:36 AM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

oop, or married/moving in, I guess.
posted by calgirl at 8:37 AM on December 14, 2013

yes, would be impossible to calculate (though romantic to think about!) - sadly it's complicated by speculation and slumlords. Then, consider that the place we are buying was previously owned by a company to house visiting staff/clients. So no one is really moving out, but maybe that activity will take place in several other places.
posted by bluedeans at 8:49 AM on December 14, 2013

> Or, like, in Montreal, where almost every lease begins on July 1

Or Boston, where September 1 is known as Move-In Day because of all the colleges. At least it was when I lived there; according to this article it's called "Allston Christmas," which I never heard even when I lived in Allston. (Spring was the time to find abandoned loot, in my experience, not fall.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:52 AM on December 14, 2013

Both apartments I moved into were vacant when I moved and there wasn't a follow on tenant to me. So no chain, but YMMV.
posted by TheAdamist at 8:56 AM on December 14, 2013

You just have to know, in a time period and for a definition of vacancy:
-How many people are moving.

On the "head" of the chain:
-how many move into new constructions/additions
-how many move into a vacant residence
-how many move in with someone

On the "tail" of the chain:
-how many move away from someone
-how many move away from a new vacancy
-how many are the final residents (disaster, demolition, repurpose)

You also have know how evenly distributed these events are. If 2% of moves are into new construction and 4% are away from family, what percentage overlap in the same move? The more that chain-breaking moves overlap, the longer will be median chain length (unless most moves are chain-breakers, in which case the shorter will be the median and the longer will be the unusually long ones.)

Unfortunately, I don't know any of these statistics, but I would start with the US Census data. Some assumptions could be made about some of the demographics broken out that might lead to an initial guess.
posted by michaelh at 9:22 AM on December 14, 2013

There's probably going to be wide geographic disparities as well. Some parts of the country probably moves are from purchased house to purchased house; others rental to rental and still others will be people who are moving "up" the chain from rental with roommates, to alone to buying a small house to buying increasingly large houses with families.

Data point: I'm moving on Friday. I'm moving in with my finance to a house we bought. He's moving from a family house; I'm moving from my own apartment. My apartment in turn will be rented to someone who's been living with his girlfriend at her grandparents' home. So it can be complicated in a lot of ways, not just one single chain.
posted by marylynn at 9:49 AM on December 14, 2013

Homeslessness is also not being taken into account so far. When people lose their housing, and also rejoin the ranks of the housed, the chain looks different.
posted by bilabial at 9:51 AM on December 14, 2013

Plus, sometimes housing is vacant due to death. The house we bought was for sale because the owner had died and his children already had houses of their own.

It's a fascinating thought, though.
posted by RogueTech at 9:58 AM on December 14, 2013

I've thought about this exact thing before - yes, I've moved way too many times (imo) as an adult - and always come to the conclusion that while there are tendrils that peter out, and new roots that sprout, the main chain itself is likely near-infinite.
posted by stormyteal at 10:32 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

This doesn't exactly answer your question, but it's an extremely related mathematical paradox.
posted by empath at 10:57 AM on December 14, 2013

A large chunk of my practice is real estate law. In the Toronto area I would say most chains are 3 links or less for closing on the same day, although you never really know until someone can't close and the faxes start getting sent.

Factors shortening the chain include people moving to new construction, people moving out of rental accommodation or their parents' house, the wise people who get bridge loans (do yourself a favour and get a bridge loan, no one needs the added stress of waiting on someone else's mortgage to buy their house), and people buying additional properties for investment purposes.

I understand that many jurisdictions don't do same day closings and have escrow periods and the like so things may be different there.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:32 PM on December 14, 2013

(You'll note that my answer is really a subset of your question because it deals only with people buying and selling on the same day. The chain of people moving, whether they are buying a place or not and especially if you allow people to spread things out by getting their new place before moving out of their old place or doing the opposite would be a very difficult question to answer).
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:38 PM on December 14, 2013

I think its straight forward statistically if you know the chance for a single link in the chain to exist. I have no idea what percentages of moves are contingent on another party moving, but lets say it is 60%.Then the chance for a chain of 2 or more is 60%, 3 or more would be 36% (.6×.6), 4 or more would be 21.6% (.36×.6), and so on. I'm not sure how to get the information on contingent moves, but I think it would be sufficient to approximate the chain probabilities. At least I think so if I remember my probabilities right.
posted by forforf at 5:59 PM on December 14, 2013

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