2 Pandemic Housing Trends With Staying Power

November 9, 2020

Certain housing trends emerging from the pandemic likely will outlast the virus, real estate professionals predict. “The idea of what is necessary is changing,” Camille Thomas, a real estate professional in Jackson Hole, Wyo., told realtor.com®. “The home has become more than a living space.”

The Great Escape

The suburbs have become a hot place to be in the pandemic. Some real estate experts have called urban flight a myth, but Americans—particularly millennials—were already leaving crowded cities for the suburbs in the five years prior to the pandemic, according to the Urban Land Institute. Now the trend has accelerated. Housing inventory in the suburbs is shrinking faster than in urban areas, according to a report from realtor.com®.

The Urban Land Institute refers to the current booming housing market as “the great American move,” which was ignited by the pandemic, creating a growing desire to live in lower-density areas and propelling suburban growth. “People are not wanting to be in a city where it feels too crowded right now,” Suzi Dailey, a real estate professional with Realty One International in Orange County, Calif., told realtor.com®. “They are leaving cities in favor of homes with more space, a backyard, or some type of view.”

As more companies take their workforce fully remote, Americans may have more flexibility to move. They may seek larger homes in the suburbs and more affordability outside of city centers. The South, which tends to offer greater housing affordability, is benefiting most from relocation trends during the pandemic, ULI notes.

The Zoom Room

As remote work grows, being prepared for video conferences is growing in importance. Some real estate professionals and sellers are even including “Zoom rooms” in listings as part of the home’s features. These are areas in the home that serve as a dedicated corner or section of the home that offers an aesthetically pleasing background for video calls. “Buyers are looking for extra space to create workspaces for students and working parents,” Thomas told realtor.com®. “Three bedrooms are no longer enough. Now it must be three bedrooms and an additional workspace, at least.”

The home office has become a prime feature attracting buyers, real estate professionals reported in HomeLight’s Q2 2020 Top Agent Insights report. As remote work grows more common, home buyers need a formal home office. Designated home offices were the top feature in demand among home shoppers, followed by a home in a less dense location, single-family living, a private and spacious outdoor area, and a well-appointed kitchen, the survey shows.