By Nancy Perkins
Shelter is one of the few essential items we all need, and with stay-at-home orders in place, we are spending more time than ever in our homes.
We are learning what works for us in a house, and what does not. We are daydreaming about home improvements, our next homes and places we want to live. According to Google Search Trends, online searches for “Virtual Home Tours” effectively quadrupled from March 22 to April 25.
As I have worked with buyer and seller clients over the last 2 ½ months to either buy, sell or list a total of eight homes, I have observed five trends in home buying.
Desire for lower density
Home buyers today are seeking more space, both indoors and outdoors, and they’re happy to trade convenience to accomplish this goal. Buyers now view private, personal space as a luxury and a safety net.
Prior to the pandemic, buyers were paying a premium to be in dense, urban, walkable communities where shops and restaurants were just steps away. Today, we are seeing buyers looking for more space.
Condo owners and apartment dwellers want townhouses, townhouse owners want detached homes with yards and urban home dwellers are considering bigger homes and yards in the suburbs.
Telecommuting has been around for years, but never executed on the scale we see today. As many employees and employers have been forced into working from home, many are discovering telecommuting’s benefits. As a result, we are seeing buyers and sellers exploring their options for a new lifestyle further away from the city.
For some, this means permanent moves to second homes in the mountains or at the beach and selling or downsizing their local Alexandria homes. For others, it means moves to the exurbs in areas like the Eastern Shore of Maryland or The Plains, Virginia.
Zoom-worthy home offices
As we all telecommute, the need for high functioning and beautiful home offices for work and for distance learning has never been clearer. Buyers are exhausted from Zoom calls at the dining table, sitting across from their spouse and next to their kids.
Buyers want home offices with doors that close. They need high quality internet and want spaces that are curated and beautiful for video conferences. Many dual income families are no longer tolerant of a shared home office and are looking for homes that could provide two home offices, converting an extra bedroom or walling up space in the basement to provide the second office.
Multiple living spaces
Veranda Magazine recently posed the question on their May 4 blog, “Will The quarantine be the death of the open floor plan?”
This is a concept I have been pondering for a couple years, as many buyers have been searching for homes with multiple living areas and not one large, open space.
Increasingly, buyers are searching for homes with living rooms and family rooms with spaces which are distinct from each other, but not entirely closed off from the rest of the home. These buyers like an open flow, but also the ability to “get away” from the kids to read a book or chat with a friend.
This desire for separate spaces has peaked during quarantine, when homeowners not only want to get away from family members, but they want to “travel” to a new space in the home that looks and feels different than the prior room. This desire to travel through rooms in the home is leading to new décor trends embracing more color and pattern and fewer neutrals.
On-site recreation and fitness
With gyms closed, sports seasons cancelled, pools closed and kids at home, buyers are now, more than ever, looking for homes with recreational amenities and home gyms.
Buyers are anxious to find safe ways to exercise and exhaust their kids. With predictions that a second wave of the pandemic will hit this winter and uncertainty around school plans, we are seeing a resurgence of desire for swimming pools, tennis courts and sport courts. Bicycle sales are skyrocketing, and buyers are looking for homes with easy access to trail systems.
The global pandemic has taught all of us the importance of our homes as places of shelter, joy, work and recreation.
The writer is an award-winning realtor and lifelong Alexandrian. She is proud to work and raise her family in the town where she grew up. To learn more, visit NancyPerkins.ttrsir.com.