Home Features Making a Comeback Post Covid-19

August 6, 2020


There’s nothing like the clarity that can be found in a crisis! It’s easy to see that the COVID-19 is starting some new (and unexpected) trends within real estate – especially when it comes to what features buyers want in a home. 

But if the last few months are any indication of what we can expect in the long run it’s this. Previously unimportant home features are making a comeback. Fortunately, this may spell good news for sellers: home qualities once important to buyers are now being overlooked. 

Today’s buyers are finding out that they love pools, are craving the pace and peace of the suburbs, and aren’t walking away from a deal because the kitchen needs some work. 

Here are some of the most interesting things we’re learning about buyers in the age of the coronavirus.

Insight #1: A “Dated” Home Is No Longer a Deal Killer

As always, move-in ready homes are highest in demand… but, buyers aren’t walking away from a deal if the interior design isn’t up to par. 

It’s been an industry norm for sellers to upgrade their homes before the sale. Listed homes were expected to look shiny and new if there was any hope of woo-ing prospects. 

The preferences for winning interiors were intensified by generation. “Younger-age buyers have really not wanted to take on renovation projects, so if a house wasn’t move-in ready, it would take longer to sell and would sell at a discount,” the president of real estate valuation firm, the Otteau Group, told New York Times. 

But, in the COVID-19 era, this is all changing. 

Due to a notably low inventory and a COVID-inspired shift in buyer priorities, a listing’s outdated interiors aren’t strong enough to deter prospects. 

“It still has an effect on the selling price of a home, but the need for work is no longer an impediment to sale”, noted Mr. Otteau. 

Buyers also understand that, for the most part, things have been put on pause for months. Things aren’t easy by any standards for sellers right now, which may have created more lenient buying expectations. 

So, if you thought you needed to re-do that kitchen before listing your home, think again. It may not hold the same importance that it used to… especially if you’re offering a pool.

Insight #2: Homes With Pools in High Demand

As the summer season passes with no clear end of COVID in sight, buyers are seeking new, socially-distant ways to engage with their favorite R&R activities.  

One of the biggest trends that agents are reporting is an uptick in swimming pool demand. On-site swimming pools are becoming a pivotal leverage point for this season’s listings – and it’s even standing as a point of compromise. 

We’re observing a wave of buyers who are willing to pay more on the deal for a ready-to-use pool or are trading picture-perfect interiors for pool access. 

“With swimming pools at the top of so many buyers’ wish lists, some are willing to put up with dated kitchens and baths to get that outdoor amenity… I joke that people are buying the pool and the house that goes with it”, Ms. Hamer, an agent at William Pitt Sotheby’s Westport said.

This surge in demand for lifestyle amenities within the home is likely a response to the current stay-at-home culture. Since buyers can’t go into their communities to gain access to their favorite summer-inspired pastimes, they’re bringing it into their own homes for their friends and family to enjoy. 

According to Tom Casey, VP of sales at Anthony & Sylvan Pools in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, warm climate zones are included here, too. Think California, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and more. Since pools can be used year-round, they’re dominating buyer demands in these locations. 

The idea of ‘home’ is transforming right before our eyes. Buyers, especially those belonging to younger generations like Gen Z and Millennials, are seeking homes that can fulfill all of their lifestyle dreams. Entertainment, leisure, and relaxation are key aspects of a strong listing in the post-COVID world… and did we mention relaxation?

Insight #3: Smaller Cities are in Hot Demand

In metro-ridden areas, second-home buyers are seeking a break from the crowds and buzzing pace of city-living by browsing suburban neighborhoods

This ‘suburbanization trend’ is a movement that’s largely connected to current events. Whether it’s homebuyers looking to move out of the city altogether or own an additional home that can accommodate a break from it all, people are seeking space, peace, and quiet. 

Urban environments are more densely populated than smaller cities, making it difficult to truly social distance – especially if you want to enjoy time outside of the home. 

Meanwhile, suburban homes come with yards, more square footage, and greater space between neighboring houses. It’s easier to stay safe while still maintaining some of the freedoms that buyers want to hold onto. 

And, while the global situation remains incredibly stressful, buyers are flocking to the suburbs in an effort to experience peace of mind. 

California is a key location where this trend is playing out. Buyer interest is moving away from hubs like L.A. and into less-popular neighborhoods that can make their peaceful lifestyle goals come true. 

Buying a Home with Reali

These trends are actively transforming the housing market. What other trends will be emerging onto the California real estate scene?

Keep up with the latest movements on the Reali Blog!