Buyers, Tired of Homes’ Shortcomings, Want to Trade Up

August 5, 2020

Households happy with their homes before the pandemic have grappled with the compromises they made during the home shopping process. That has sparked a wave of buyers emerging as stay-at-home restrictions lifted—and many of those households have decided to trade up.

Prior to the pandemic, house hunters were focused on amenities such as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and hardwood flooring, among the most popular keywords a year ago, according to Point2Homes, an online real estate marketplace.

Since the pandemic, house hunters are now focused on more space and outdoor features—and not showing any willingness to compromise on them, according to a new survey from Point2Homes, which analyzed more than 1,600 home searches at its site. Buyers are armed with a set of priorities and a willingness to pay a higher price to get everything they want, the survey shows.

Online searches post-lockdown have surged. Searches for properties in the $200,000 to $300,000 and $500,000 to $750,000 price brackets are up, which Point2homes says signals that buyers are willing to pay more.

The top priorities for buyers now center around square footage and living space, floor design, and outdoor spaces, such as swimming pools, the survey shows.

“One home feature seemed to be even more important than abundant square footage: Floor plan design and efficiency; or in other words, more walls and more separate rooms,” researchers note. Buyers are on the hunt for more bedrooms and more bathrooms, the survey shows. Searches for homes with three- and four-plus bedrooms are surging.

As the pandemic prompted people to stay at home, they also may have discovered some recent housing trends aren’t the best for their new lifestyle. For example, before the lockdown, many home buyers preferred open-plan rooms and interior design elements that made for seamless transitions between separate living spaces.

“However, just a few short weeks of parents, children, and couples stuck together has reestablished the importance of and need for privacy and personal space,” researchers note. “The pandemic exposed the cracks in our homes’ foundations: Our humble abodes were not meant to be the headquarters of all our activities. After the lockdown, home buyers changed their expectations, focusing on more living space, more bedrooms, more bathrooms, and more outdoor features and amenities to help everyone relax while socially distancing.”

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