The coronavirus pandemic has caused great change in many industries and economies across the world are struggling with the impact of COVID-19. The Real Estate market is not without its own struggles, however, in many areas the housing market is proving resilient and, in some places, and upsurge of buying houses can be seen. Spreading to almost all areas of society, COVID-19 has caused rapid and perhaps permanent change to our way of life. The reliance on technology, a move towards home working, a renewed effort to combat climate change and a change in health care priorities are all factors that have arisen from the pandemic, among many more, large and small, good and bad. The Real Estate market is not immune to these changes, which have had a knock-on effect to what people are looking for in a home. Here are some of the predicted trends emerging in the housing sector.
A shift in living space priorities
The pandemic has forced thousands to conduct their lives from home, from living, to socializing, to home working, to home schooling, during lockdowns or self-isolations we were even unable to leave the house for anything other than essential tasks such as grocery shopping. More people therefore have begun to consider making space in their homes for home offices, as remote working may become a long-term, if not permanent, adjustment for many. Architects Digest wrote: ‘“Having a more comfortable and more accessible and more usable house is important because everybody is home and they need a place to go,” says (Suzanne) Kasler. The home office, arguably the biggest “must-have” of the moment, needs to be functional, not just attractive, even if that means the printer is no longer hidden inside a cabinet.’
With a renewed reliance on, and love for, outdoor space from being cooped up inside, more people may be looking for larger garden areas. Forbes reported Karen Hatcher of Sovereign Realty & Management LLC who stated: ‘due to the pandemic, people want more livable space. We have seen a huge increase in demand for residents moving into single-family rental property to gain more indoor and outdoor space attached to their unit, and many are applying sight unseen. With more activities taking place inside the home, homes need to now have space for living, entertainment, career/job work, working out, school and more.’
New ‘in-demand’ Locations
If there continues to be an emphasis on remote working and more and more people opt for this way of working life, then there may be a significant shift in the locations that people are living in. Typically, as much of the job market centers around cities and large towns, people have historically had to live in or around these areas to find work. If remote working is a viable option, more and more people can move farther afield to perhaps more affordable or idyllic locations. Some Real Estate agents in the UK and the USA have already noticed this shift as buyers look for both larger spaces, further from the office and in more idyllic locations.
Architects Digest reported ‘After months of remote work, buyers are cutting ties with the cities where they work, looking for more space and privacy in the suburbs, the country, and second-home destinations like South Lake Tahoe, Palm Beach, Hawaii, and the Hamptons. They are looking for larger homes, on large lots.’
Possible reduction in office spaces
It is not necessarily just domestic Real Estate that will shift, but office space too. In May 2020, property agent Savills reported, ‘According to the Savills Global Sentiment Survey of research heads in 31 countries around the world, 84% of respondents expected home working to somewhat increase, the remaining 16% expect it to greatly increase. Over half expect the use of video conferencing to greatly increase after the pandemic.’ If more people do move towards a more permanent remote working setup, office spaces will need to adapt, perhaps by becoming smaller, making the conference room the priority alongside any other necessary facilities. Employers may find this beneficial, opting for a cheaper office space or location and spending less money on overheads such as heating and electricity. Some studies have also suggested that those employees that do prefer working from home, actually become more productive and happier.
Savills added that due to this shift toward home working, office spaces will likely change to accommodate: ‘We expect to see a shift towards diverse location strategies and the emergence of a hybrid model, a combination of home working, local office hubs and a head office. This is an opportunity to improve long-term employee wellbeing, organizational resilience, and sustainability. A reduction in the environmental footprint may arise from less travel, shorter supply chains and sustainable building design, to name a few examples.’