What Will Homes Look Like in a Post-Pandemic World?

Home buyers’ needs are changing. Find out what features are at the top of their wish lists and how new housing developments are evolving.

October 6, 2020 by Lee Nelson

3 Takeaways:

  • Buyers are mainly interested in single-family homes with more square footage.
  • Wellness-centric amenities that combat the spread of the coronavirus and promote healthy living are growing in popularity.
  • More than three-quarters of current homeowners have carried out at least one home improvement project since March.

If the pandemic has taught us anything about the way we live, it’s that our homes are our sanctuaries. Homeowners are increasingly seeing their home as a place where all needs—work, school, play, exercise, and entertainment—must be met. 

With people hunkered down in their houses for the past several months, they’ve had time to evaluate what’s missing from where they live and what changes could make their lives easier. Some have decided to purchase a home for the first time, and others have chosen to sell and move to another location that offers more space.

There’s also a healthy contingent of homeowners taking on renovations to make their current abode more comfortable. A recent survey­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ from Porch.com spotlights exactly what U.S. homeowners have been doing to improve their homes during the pandemic. More than three-quarters have carried out at least one home improvement project since March, and 78% of homeowners plan to undertake at least one project in the next year. A quarter say they’re motivated because they have extra time on their hands, and 21% say they’re interested in adding value to their home. The most popular revamps include improving their high-speed internet connection (33%); adding an outdoor pool (18%); creating a home office (17%); and adding a home gym (16%).

Real estate professionals and developers are now examining how they can best help potential home buyers to fulfill their wants and needs in the near future.

Buyers Have New Wish Lists

Michael Nourmand, president of Nourmand & Associates, REALTORS® in Los Angeles, says he’s seeing buyers mainly interested in single-family homes with more square footage to accommodate areas such as a game room, guest unit, home office, pool, gym, and screening room.

“Before, if a buyer had kids, they would take them to the park to go on the swings. Now, they need a swing set in their backyard,” Nourmand says.

There’s also a preference of having more space between neighbors and a yard they can enjoy year-round.

“While there is still strong demand to live in the city, the world of work-from-home has fueled demand for other places outside of the city,” Nourmand says.

Another growth point is wellness-centric amenities that not only combat the spread of the coronavirus but also promote healthy living, says Allison Greenfield, partner with Miami developers Lionheart Capital. The company’s newly completed Ritz-Carlton Residences in Miami Beach offers many private elevators for social distancing; medical concierge services; and private boat, scooter, and bicycle rentals. The development also takes stress relief into consideration with its water views, large outdoor spaces, private balconies and terraces, and a residential art studio with all the materials needed to create.

“It’s subtle luxury—luxury of a life well lived. The tagline for the project is ‘Designed for life,’ ” Greenfield says. “It’s not about being flashy, but about having privacy, working from home, and having people in your home to entertain.”

To stay ahead of what New Yorkers are looking for in their next homes in a post-COVID-19 world, Eric Benaim, CEO of Modern Spaces, a Queens, N.Y., brokerage, says his company conducted a short survey of a few hundred consumers. He discovered that the most valued aspects of a home were price first, location second, and layout/outdoor space tied for third. Sixty-two percent of survey respondents said they are looking to buy.

What Future Housing Developments Have in Store

Modern Spaces recently opened Townhouse on the Park in Long Island City, N.Y., a new development that could satisfy some buyers’ post-pandemic needs. Each of the 75 townhomes incorporates a fairly large outdoor space; Alexa or Google Home-enabled smart-home devices; keyless entry; flexible office space; and the Mirror, a smart mirror that streams workout classes, in each unit. The Mirror’s popularity has “become a big hit,” Nourmand says.

More developers and investors are incorporating touchless faucets and keyless doors, along with high-quality air filters that can take out 95% of airborne particles. Nourmand predicts fewer vertical condo projects, and the ones that are built will have private elevators and amenities for each wing, he says.

“Los Angeles had been a historically horizontal town but, in recent years, there was talk of more development with higher density,” he says. “The coronavirus has definitely chilled the talk about vertical living for the foreseeable future.”

Consumers are thinking about location more than ever, Greenfield says, and they’re specifically considering future surges in COVID-19 or other events that may force people to stay in their homes. “They need to think about where they want to be stuck,” she says.

She expects new developments to include access to substantial outdoor space, including private gardens or terraces, yards, access to beaches, walking or biking trails, or play spaces for those with children or grandchildren. But when it comes to interiors, Greenfield doesn’t believe the open concept will go away just because people want more privacy for remote work, distance learning, or working out.

“I don’t think smaller rooms is the answer. You need a big common area with smaller private areas,” Greenfield says. “We are at home with more people now. We want to enjoy each other’s company. We are social animals, and we do want be with our families and friends.”

“Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.”

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