Inspired daily by the takeaways learned in the field, top producer Cara Ameer has 18 years under her belt with licenses in both Florida and California. A self-proclaimed fitness fanatic, she loves working out, finds cleaning and organizing relaxing and can’t say no to strawberries.
Ever since COVID-19 hit, most of us have been in a “qurantinathon” in our respective places of shelter. By now, we’ve likely used every nook and cranny of our homes to the max.
The dining room table has quickly turned into the home office, the conference room and possibly even the home-schooling hub. The living room is the new “Zoom” center for video meetings. Sometimes, the corner of a bedroom is the only place to find some quiet time to take that phone call. The kitchen is now the work and school cafeteria, stocked with a coffee pot that’s always on and full and a food-serving counter that’s open 24/7.
Some of us may feel like we’ve overstayed our welcome in our own homes, or rather the home has worn out its welcome and no longer works for our current lifestyle and needs. As a result, three scenarios are likely starting to happen.
We might have fallen in love with our current spaces even more and began appreciating many of the features we never fully utilized until now.
Or, maybe we realized that even though there’s a lot we love about our home and its location, we still have some work to do to make it “perfect.” We’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps our space needs some remodeling, new furnishings, a bit more freed up space and amenities. Or, lastly, perhaps our homes are pushing us to think about our options and consider a possible relocation.
As we move toward a revamped way of life, shifts in homebuying are likely to occur in the post-COVID-19 era. We’ll be seeing changes in the kinds of properties, features, amenities and even locations that people look for. Here are four trends to watch out for.
1. Less dense living
After going through a pandemic, people may opt for a single-family home over a condo, co-op, town home or other multifamily arrangement. People might not like having to access their homes through a common area.
Being able to go in your own front door without having to go through a lobby area or elevator is a treasured amenity in times like this. The same could be said about having your own storage space in a garage, attic or basement.
And outdoor space? No matter how big or small it may be, having your own yard, patio or porch is a prized possession — especially if you need to extend your workspace outside. Having your own place to set up a grill as well as eat outdoors may be a welcome change from tiny balconies that lack privacy and have restrictions.
2. Functional spaces
Being cooped up may give way for the need to have a place with a flexible floor plan, like a bedroom that can become a home office. People might want to have a house with two master suites, in case someone in the household gets sick and needs to be quarantined or to accommodate an elderly relative who needs to be brought out of a nursing facility.
A casita or guesthouse could also become an in-demand feature to comfortably house family members for extended periods of time. It could also serve as a workspace, a safe quarantine zone or a place to practice hobbies.
Bonus rooms with their own bathrooms, finished basements, dedicated home offices, a third-car garage (to serve as decontamination zone) or home gym could also become in vogue.
Spending loads of time at home with limited ability to travel in the immediate and not-too-distant future means the need for more spaces to use for relaxation, fun, exercise and meditation. People are less likely to question the necessity of these features. Instead, they’ll consider them a requirement.
Properties boasting outdoor living areas with huge patios, outdoor TVs, fire pits and pools may reign supreme. Even cold-climate locations, where a pool isn’t typically a desirable amenity due to limited use and maintenance, may see a resurgence in demand for homes with these features.
Summer or outdoor kitchens may also gain popularity, since people might want another space to cook in besides their indoor kitchen. Homebuyers may also look for properties with large outdoor bar areas where they can relax and enjoy meals and happy hour. Massage rooms, yoga or dance studios along with home movie theaters and gaming lounges may also become in demand.
Backyard putting greens and outdoor tennis or sports courts may provide that perfect escape while practicing social distancing in the comfort of your own home. For water enthusiasts, homes with a boat slip, dock and boat lift will allow you to have a playground right outside your door and enjoy hours of fun on the water in your boat or jet ski. No marina needed.
As Jimmy Buffet sang in “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” this experience may drive some people to relocate altogether or to finally buy that second home. Since flexible work arrangements will likely become the norm for a while, along with uncertainty regarding the future, people may choose to put their money toward their dream “shelter-in-place” escape instead.
Properties that offer people the ability to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle in opportune climates will likely become on trend. Mountain, lake, desert, beach and coastal properties may provide a much-needed escape and the chance to experience an entirely new lifestyle several months of the year — if not as a full-time residence.
Along these lines, people may look to buy a second home that can be monetized as a vacation rental to offset costs and provide some income. Buyers may also seek locations known to promote a healthy living environment, parks and walkable neighborhoods.
Access to good healthcare may be paramount. In fact, some may choose to relocate based on that feature alone. Some may want to “get out, way out” and look for properties that are secluded and not near any other homes.
The tiny house movement may see some resurgence as an extremely affordable option to be mobile and flexible to relocation. Properties or communities with their own private airstrips, helicopter landing pads or easy access to non-commercial airports to accommodate private jets could also become highly sought-after by the uber wealthy.
As we transition to a gradual reopening of the U.S., homes and locations that fit the above may be well-positioned to take advantage of a positive market momentum.
As an agent, now may be the time to hone in on where people in your area like to go on vacation or own second homes. Identify potential locations that are relatively easy to travel to as possible options. From there, consider establishing referral relationships with agents in those markets, and learn about the options and price ranges that are available.
Stay in touch with them, and keep your finger on the pulse of what they’re seeing and what’s happening. Are they noticing an uptick in activity? If so, where are the buyers coming from? Are they looking for primary or second homes?
If buyers are coming from your market, hopefully, the referral relationship can be mutually beneficial for both of you, especially if they have a home to sell. Perhaps that buyer may want to downsize to a more turnkey option in your market and have a larger residence they plan to spend more time in elsewhere.
As an agent, visiting areas that have a connection to your market is highly beneficial, especially when discussing them with a client. When you physically see these areas of interest and canvass the neighborhoods and properties, you’ll have a better sense of the landscape.
If it makes sense, consider expanding your services so you can sell in those areas. That way, you can stay with your client from end to end and serve as their point person in both areas. You may find yourself developing a healthy pipeline of buyers and sellers in both markets. If you’re blessed with an overwhelming amount of business as a result, consider partnering up with another agent in both markets to tag team servicing clients.
Homes in existing metropolitan areas that have flexible floor plans and an array of outdoor amenities may also see a spike in demand over the upcoming months. It would be prudent to build your market knowledge on where those properties are and identify owners who may be interested in selling.
Building relationships with contractors that can enhance existing homes with a guesthouse, more outdoor space or pool is also beneficial. You can become a resource to clients who may be interested in upgrading their existing spaces. Having these resources will also come in handy should an owner decide to sell and buy something else that needs work.
Either way, new buyers may want to know what their options are in regard to enhancing existing properties that fit their price range but are in need of amenities. As an agent, getting up to speed on the design trends and construction costs can help solidify you as a resource for everyone you serve, whether they are buyers, sellers or existing clients who want to stay in their homes.
Cara Ameer is a broker associate and global luxury agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
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