Homebuyers may start shopping for homes with continued social distancing in mind.

As many schools and businesses have gone virtual to help minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus, people find themselves spending more time at home than ever. The experience has some homebuyers reconsidering which features they want in their next home, especially if working remotely and social distancing continue.
“Homebuyers have definitely changed their outlook on what they’re looking for,” says Donna Deaton, an agent and manager at RE/MAX Victory in Liberty Township, Ohio. “I think clients keep a quarantine in the back of their mind, especially when we have to wear gloves and masks, and use Clorox wipes during a showing.

Here are four home features buyers may be on the lookout for, according to RE/MAX real estate agents.

1. Extra space to work – or study – from home
Whether it’s a home office, classroom or personal gym, an extra room or finished basement can serve as a designated space for family members to focus – or spend time apart when needed.
“I think people will look for finished basement areas, or a larger floor plan with an office or den-type room. They won’t want a completely open concept anymore,” Deaton says. “People are going to start to think about, ‘What if I need a room to make a school room?’”
Hasani Steele, an agent with RE/MAX Premier in Chicago, says he has already seen an increase in interest for properties with space for a home office.
“Clients are scrutinizing that use of space more than they have in the past,” Steele says. “Home offices were once abbreviated setups. This day forward, they are qualified from a more long-term, functional perspective.”

2. Mother-in-law suite to keep loved ones close
For many, staying home has meant staying apart, inspiring some to consider homes that could bring the family under one roof. Deaton points to a client who is shifting his home search to find a home that could also accommodate his mother moving in.
“I have a buyer that was looking for just a normal, two-story home that now wants something where he can bring his mom to live with him,” Deaton says. “He doesn’t like that she’s on her own.”
Even before local shutdowns, Deaton says she was already seeing an increase in interest in bigger kitchens, homes with two master suites, and finished walk-out spaces that could serve as a second living space.
“It’s starting to come more into play,” Deaton says. “I’m getting ready to put a house on the market with a finished basement with a full kitchen. I’m going to market it as a great place for families to be together.”

3. Upgraded amenities to replace public areas
Kids, parents, dogs – everyone has pent-up energy to burn these days. A private outdoor space allows room to play and a spot to enjoy a patio drink without ever leaving home.
And with summer fast approaching, homeowners are starting to make investments in ways to cool down at home.
“We’ve noticed a lot of people are wanting swimming pools now,” Deaton says. “That’s become quite the thing. The pool contractors are already booked out to fall.”
As theaters remain shuttered for the time being, film lovers are also looking for ways to bring the movie-going experience home this summer.
Over the last five years with the advent of smart TVs and streaming media, Steele says his team anticipated increased buyer-demand for immersive-experience theaters in the properties they develop.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly accelerated the demand and resulting progression of blockbuster-streaming direct to the consumer through services like Netflix, Disney Plus and YouTube,” Steele says.

4. A location that allows them to keep their distance
Many homebuyers may be rethinking their dreams of living in a big city, according to Brent Landless, Principal Broker of Cascadia Group with RE/MAX Key Properties in Bend, Oregon.
“I think the biggest change we’re going to see nationally is that people are going to look to move where they aren’t living on top of each other, but the city is still large enough to offer an art scene and plenty of dining options,” Landels says.
For many companies, the move to working remotely has been a smooth transition. If more employees continue to work from home, it also opens up more areas in their home search as commute times could become less of a concern.
“Many of the suburbs we serve have very good public schools and larger single-family homes,” Steele says. “If traffic dies down and people can worry less about their drive to work, they could have the yard and everything else they want. It’s too early to say for sure, but I can see that becoming a trend.”
Written by Stephanie Visscher

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