Window Shopping for Real Estate: A New Favorite Pastime

May 6, 2020

America has a new hobby during the COVID-19 pandemic: browsing listings of homes for sale.

Real estate professionals are reporting an uptick of online views of their listings. The increased activity could be from a growing number of window shoppers daydreaming of moving to a new home after the pandemic eases.

“Window shopping for real estate fills me with a sense of calm,” writes Janet Siroto for realtor.com®, who currently resides in a high-rise apartment in New York City. “In the same way that fantasizing about an upcoming vacation helps people slog through a few more weeks of their 9-to-5 job, checking out real state gives me the fortitude to push on.”

Siroto says her real estate tastes have changed since the pandemic. She once would have swooned over a compact brownstone in the city, but now is drawn to listings that show off a Victorian spread out on a few acres or a brick home in the suburbs.

“People are panicked,” Alison Bernstein, president and founder of the Suburban Jungle Group, a national real estate firm, told realtor.com®. “[Our web traffic and calls] are up 40% from this time last year.” She says the calls are mostly from people who had been considering moving prior to the pandemic but then decided to hold off. “But now, they are ready,” she says. “They don’t want to get on elevators anymore, or do laundry in a shared space.”

Jennifer Kornreich, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Huntington, N.Y., says that the severity of COVID-19 is prompting more people to re-evaluate their lives. “Confronting your mortality as we are now doing may push you to think about what changes you want to make in life,” she told realtor.com®. “Right now, you can’t control where you go in public, but you may be able to control where you live.”

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