The spring housing market took a hit as a result of COVID-19 and the economic downturn. However, recent data on home sales, pending contracts, and home prices, as well as statewide job gains and falling unemployment rates, provide evidence that housing markets across Virginia are poised to rebound strongly this summer. The sales transactions that were “missed” during the spring likely will be made up over the summer months.
As the housing market recovers, REALTORS® across the Commonwealth may find that the home buying and selling process will be different, with more virtual tours and face masks, and fewer open houses and post-settlement selfies. In addition to a new way of doing business, it is possible that the COVID-19 pandemic will also have a lasting impact on the housing preferences of home buyers Virginia.
According to a recent survey, about one in three Virginia REALTORS® (31.2%) say that they think home buyers will be looking for different types of home amenities post-COVID. Some of the favored features could include:
- Dedicated home offices. According to survey data from Gallup, 63% of American workers have worked remotely—at least part of the time—during COVID-19. Half of those working from home said that they would continue to work from home, even after restrictions are lifted and businesses open back up. Many employers plan to extend telework options after COVID-19, as they have seen employees’ productivity unaffected under a work-from-home situation. Having a dedicated home office is going to become a necessity, rather than a luxury, for many homeowners.
- Private spaces (i.e. the anti-open-floor plan concept). During COVID-19, families that have been isolating together and spending more time under one roof have come to appreciate the ability to find private space inside their home. In addition to separate living or family rooms, homeowners may be looking for living spaces that include distinct spaces for different uses and room layouts that offer privacy.
- More outdoor space. Finding outdoor recreational opportunities in the time of social distancing can be a challenge in some communities. Homeowners may value private backyard space more than ever after COVID-19. Entertaining outside has also become more popular while people practice social distancing, so larger backyards, with dedicated entertainment space, may be on homebuyers’ list of priorities in the months to come.
- Multigenerational living. During COVID-19, extended families often have faced the dual challenges of needing each other more but being less able to be together. Homes that offer space for multiple generations to reside under one roof or on one property could become increasingly attractive. Grandparents can be a source of childcare when parents are working and children are out of school. Adult children can provide critical health care assistance to older parents. Living with extended family can reduce isolation among individuals who may have otherwise lived alone.
- Other design features to protect health. Other features, such as hands-free fixtures, keyless entries, smart toilets and bidets, and dedicated delivery rooms could all be in demand by homebuyers following COVID-19.