June 26, 2022

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Home buyer preferences are shifting in the post-vaccine world and across the United States. While it used to be that proximity to work and an easy commute were important, nowadays, what people are looking for in a home has shifted to focus on features like a home office and upgraded outdoor space. Let’s take a closer look at how a new type of work-week and a post-vaccine mindset are shaping home buyer preferences.

Show me the home office

Where people are working has changed in the post-vaccine world.  Major employers — both tech startups and smaller companies — have announced remote-first or work from home optional policies. Many people are benefiting from a 3-2-2 workweek, with three days in the office, two days at home and two days off, and it seems that it might even be here to stay. With two days a week working at home, using the kitchen table as an office is not what buyers are looking for. A home office is on buyers’ minds and may be a necessity for some of them. In a recent survey of real estate trends from the experts at HomeLight, agents reported that the number one wish list item for buyers in a post-vaccine society is a home office, with more than 59 percent of respondents citing the feature as a top priority for clients in their market. This represents a huge shift as agents note that before spring 2020, a home office would not have been at the pinnacle of homebuyer wish lists. Keep in mind though that with a home office potentially only being used two days a week, guest rooms that do double-duty as a home office are showing mass appeal.

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Where’s the hot tub?

While people are returning to socializing outside their homes, the appeal of at-home entertaining is here to stay — especially if people are at home more without having to commute every day. What buyers are looking for is a home where they can enjoy time spent lounging around the patio, or soaking in a hot tub. The HomeLight data shows that outdoor features were at the top of buyers’ most desired home attributes as more than 48 percent of agents noted. For example, the value of a home with an inground hot tub in the South Central region has gone from $4,236 before Covid to $6,578 after Covid. Backyard upgrades that might have been an unnecessary luxury in the past are now considered almost a necessity.

Let’s get cooking, outside

Homebuyers are looking beyond barbecuesfor full outdoor kitchens to host meals for family and friends. In the South Central region, a home with an updated outdoor kitchen such as with a refrigerator, bar, or cooking area, was worth $5,597 more before Covid, while now that number is at $9,056 according to agents. While the kitchen inside homes is important, sellers would be wise to also consider how they are presenting their outdoor kitchen.

What homebuyers want has changed a lot in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and sellers who focus on getting their home office and outdoor space upgraded may give their homes wider appeal.