SANTA CLARA, CA — With life returning to normal as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, prospective homebuyers have developed a specific set of priorities when it comes to the products and design features they want in their next house.
That is the key conclusion of a new national survey conducted by Realtor.com. The recent online poll involved more than 1,200 adults over the age of 18 who plan to purchase a home within the next 12 months, according to Realtor.com, which is operated by publicly traded News Corp under a license from the National Association of Realtors.
“The COVID pandemic ushered in a new way of thinking about what ‘home’ means, and that is influencing much of what today’s home shoppers are looking for,” said George Ratiu, senior economist for Realtor.com, which reported that the desire for additional space was the top reason driving home shoppers’ decisions to purchase a new home in the coming year. Survey responses also indicate buyers are looking for more flexibility in their home space and affordability in exchange for a shorter commute, the new realities of a post-COVID world, Ratiu said.
“Garages, large backyards and space for pets always rank high on buyers’ wish lists, but those features have grown in importance,” he said. “The pandemic has elevated our relationship with family, as well as the need for our home to serve multiple purposes, especially the ability to work remotely. As a result, we’re placing a premium on the need to accommodate extended family, and features like a home office and broadband internet.”
When asked which home features have become a priority as a result of the pandemic, a quiet location (28%), an updated kitchen (25%) and garage and large backyard (24% each) topped the list. Outdoor living area (20%), space for pets (18%), updated bathrooms (19%), home office and broadband internet capabilities (17% each) and open floor plan (16%) rounded out the top 10 pandemic-induced most desired home features (see graph, left).
Sixty-five percent of respondents indicated that they are considering extended family when they shop for a home, with nearly a quarter stating that they are planning to buy near family members, Realtor.com reported. One-fifth of those surveyed said they will have extended family living with them full time, while 30% said their new home would need to accommodate extended family staying with them part time or visiting.
Decreasing in importance from prior surveys was the need for a short commute time and a home with smaller square footage. For example, only 9% of those polled indicated a short commute time was a priority, and only 4% said they are looking for smaller square footage. This was down from 11% and 8%, respectively, prior to the pandemic.
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