The coronavirus pandemic has brought with it rapid changes and alterations to our daily lives. It has been a daunting and uncertain time, and society has had to quickly adapt to new challenges. Lockdowns across the globe have forced many to navigate almost their entire lives from their home, companies have had no choice but to operate remotely, and we have found new ways to entertain ourselves as our social lives are cut to the bone. It is undeniable that most countries have faced unprecedented changes, and experts have been speculating on whether this pandemic will alter their respective fields, permanently. The housing market was one of the hubs of industry that had to quickly adapt, as vital practices such as home viewings and face to face meetings were put on hold. Will some of these necessary adjustments have a lasting effect in the Real Estate sector?
Remote working technology has enabled the housing industry to continue whirring. Virtual, 3D and video tours were a lifeline for many realtors, allowing for potential buyers to view homes as accurately as possible. Remote working practices, from digital filing to video chats with clients were able to cater to business needs whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines. For many in the industry, these practices were eye-opening and may have accelerated Real Estate into the future much sooner than expected. These technologies may therefore be more widely invested in and integrated more deeply into the industry.
Real Estate Agency, Zillow recently published their shareholder letter, which noted that Real Estate was now seeing an increase in buyer demand as the housing market gears back up. In response to the re-opening market, they outlined some of their immediate priorities: which included ‘accelerat[ing] technology innovations to deliver seamless and, now, more virtual real estate shopping and transaction experiences.’ The Real Estate company also highlighted how digital technologies have been useful stating ‘our proprietary 3D tours and floor plans appointment-based virtual tours, physical self-tours, e-signings and remote closings are providing necessary solutions for social distancing today. Adoption is accelerating.’
Remote Working and Settlement areas
City-living has inherently been a necessity for many whose jobs are in the city. However, as remote working has proven successful to many companies, working from home may become normalised. The social media giant, Twitter, recently announced that its employees now had the option to work from home forever. For many industries, remote working may not be viable, but for those that it is, it could prove beneficial for both employer and employee. In some examples, employers may save money rent and overheads as large office spaces become superfluous to need, they will also have the option to employ talent from farther afield. Employees will have more autonomy in their working day and a wider choice of living areas.
If remote working does become popular, desired living areas may also shift, as the future hubs of industry, suburbs could be in higher demand and the cities less crowded. Forbes wrote: ‘Cities might look different, post-pandemic. The global shift toward remote work and e-commerce may necessitate more industrial (and less commercial) space. In the absence of the typical city nightlife experiences – attending shows and dining out – many urbanites may cultivate greater appreciation for outdoor experiences like hiking – and reconsider suburban and even rural living. As more people work from home, they’ll also desire more square footage, which is more readily available and affordable in suburban and rural areas.’
If more and more people are looking to work from home, the type of houses and qualities in a home that people are looking for may change inherently. More and more people may look for bigger houses to accommodate their own office spaces. Buyers may be more concerned about energy efficiency as they will need to run utilities for longer to accommodate their working day. As climate change grows in public awareness and is adopted into company policies, environmental considerations when buying a house are becoming increasingly important.
Health and safety has also been pushed to the forefront during the pandemic, Forbes reported that: ‘Before the pandemic, many people preferred high-rise condos for their convenience, security and amenities; however, the shared plumbing and ventilation systems of high-rise buildings may transmit viruses like COVID-19 and SARS at faster and higher rates.’
According to ZDNet, Richard Barton, CEO of Zillow, commented on the presumed shift, stating: ‘Whether they’re dreaming about an extra room for an office, a bigger yard, a less dense neighborhood, or for many of you maybe, a new second home, there’s evidence that the experience has uncorked new aspirations and hopes of what home can be and needs to be. With each passing day, it becomes clear that we are not going back to the way things were.’