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How the Pandemic Shifted Homebuyers’ Wish Lists

  • March 3, 2022

How the Pandemic Shifted Homebuyers’ Wish Lists

The COVID-19 pandemic changed so many aspects of daily life. From how we gather in groups to how we dine, from how children attend school to how we feel about germs, the pandemic has put new spins on our lives and unlocked new perspectives.

It has also changed what we want in our home and from our home.

Single-family homes have become that much more attractive.
Single-family homes have long been the preferred housing choice of many Americans. The pandemic, however, accelerated the appeal of single-family detached housing, which offers homebuyers their own space to spread out. According to data from Zillow, only one in five recent buyers have purchased a townhouse or condo, a clear sign that single-family homes are in exceptionally high demand.

And those single-family homes shouldn’t be small.
During the second half of the 2010s, there was a noticeable trend toward smaller homes in new construction. The pandemic flipped that script and a desire for larger homes continues resonating. At the close of 2020, the average size of a newly built single-family home was 2,473 square feet, according to U.S. Census data. The average is now pushing its way toward 2,600 square feet as homeowners crave additional space for living, remote work, recreation, and more.

Work-from-home spaces are a must.
Make no mistake, work-from-home spaces are prized in the post-pandemic era. According to Zillow’s 2021 Consumer Housing Trends Report, 30 percent of homebuyers moved recently because they were working remote more often. By 2025, an estimated 70 percent of the U.S. workforce will be working remotely as least five days a month. The shifting dynamics of workplaces have altered our housing needs with private spaces for work, whether spare bedrooms, flex rooms, or dedicated offices, becoming that much more important to homebuyers.

Storage gains heightened emphasis.
When Gallagher and Henry surveyed prospective homebuyers to inform the creation of its Lifestyle Series home plans in 2010, buyers identified storage as one of their top priorities. The value of storage has only accelerated since. In 2019, 64 percent of buyers labeled “ample storage” as “very important” or “extremely important” in assessing properties, Zillow reports. In 2021, that figure swelled to 75 percent. Extra storage space helps a home from feeling cluttered and helps facilitate organization. Storage space also enables homeowners to shift their physical spaces with the seasons or holidays to boost mood.

Outdoor living takes on added importance.
As many Americans spend more time at home, functional outdoor living space is becoming more and more appealing. Yards and patios offer opportunities for adults to gather and children to play. Homeowners are also decking these spaces out with outdoor kitchens and built-in firepits as well as pools and hot tubs for outdoor relaxation or recreation. While only 24 percent of buyers in 2019 called a hot tub or pool important in their home search, that figure jumped to 35 percent in 2021, according to Zillow.

Colorful kitchens bring energy to pandemic-era living.
The all-white kitchen delivers a timeless look, but a growing number of buyers are adding some energy to their kitchens with colorful cabinets and countertops, and especially so in new construction where homebuyers are less likely to be concerned about resale value compared to the fixer-up crowd planning to buy, renovate, and move. For many, the jolt of color serves a creative expression of their personality and a way to inject some added flair into the heart of the home.