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How Covid Changed What Buyers Want in a Home

Home Sweet Home During Covid-19

While many of us have used the dining table as a temporary office on a snow day or stuck a treadmill in the corner of the basement and called it a home gym, the COVID-19 pandemic truly changed how we live, work, teach and try to relax in our homes. Seemingly overnight, we were forced to spend a lot more time at home, revealing a variety of issues.

How do two adults have simultaneous Zoom meetings in an open floorplan?

Just how often does an entire family spread icky germs via high-touch surfaces?

When was the last time anyone visited and actually used that guest room?

As work from home, school from home, and just about everything became a "from home" reality, trends for home improvements and design evolved accordingly. Even homebuyers reshuffled their wish lists, opting for homes with certain features that make pandemic living easier.

Let's take a look at what people are now looking for in their home sweet home. 

A Not So Open Floorplan

A year ago, buyers often wanted more connection with their family, seamless entertaining across living spaces, and especially the ability to keep an eye on kiddos while cooking in the kitchen.

Now buyers and homeowners prefer more walls, rooms, doors and separate spaces to combat noise and improve privacy when working from home, or just needing a moment alone. Extra rooms for hosting guests are out and multiple home offices are in. From building walls to using bookcases as room dividers, open floorplans are being divvied up amongst household members. 

Space to Grow and Bounce

Being outdoors is so in these days! People are looking for backyards that expand their available living space. They're looking for yards that offer areas to plant veggies, along with space to put up a trampoline or put down a tent, install a hot tub, hang a hammock, or create a cozy outdoor movie theater (check out this DIY tutorial).

For those living in the city with small balconies or no outdoor space, they're now on the hunt to get that outdoor space they crave, increasing demand for homes in the suburbs and beyond—especially if their office job has gone permanently remote.

A Comfy, Efficient Home

When the whole family is home nearly 24/7, it's inevitable that you'll see an increase in water use, heat and air-conditioning, as well as general electrical use. That means higher bills plus more wear and tear on home systems. 

To combat this, homeowners installed energy-efficient windows, whole-home air purifiers, solar panels and added insulation to maximize a home’s coziness. Homebuyers were also attracted to these features during their house hunt. Improved indoor air quality and comfort, plus reduced noise pollution is now a big plus for any home. 

Germ-Fighting Materials

At the start of the pandemic, it was pretty difficult to get your hands on anti-bacterial cleaning products. Meanwhile, we were all suddenly very aware of just how many germ-spreading "high-touch surfaces" we encountered on a daily basis, at home and while out and about.

In response, home design saw an increase in the use of materials that had natural antimicrobial properties. Bronze, copper and brass were installed as door handles, kitchen pulls and bathroom hardware to help protect against bacteria. Not only do these materials look fabulous, but they require less frantic cleaning habits. A big hit with buyers!

No-Touch and Hands-Free

"Alexa, turn on the lights!" Along with antimicrobial hardware, voice-controlled tech and smart home features became even more popular with buyers in 2020 to keep more hands off a home's sinks, toilets, light switches, thermostats and more. Gadgets also helped improve home comfort and energy efficiency.

And yes, even bidets had their moment to shine when toilet paper was tough to find. Fancier models had motion-sensing lights and automatically opened the lid for you (great for bleary, middle-of-the-night trips). That might be something a buyer installs themself, though.

Evolving Color Palettes

Paint and home decor also saw new trends in 2020. Warm colors went up on walls and soft, textural fabrics were used to make another day of Netflix binging more enjoyable. While some opted for serene decor to balance the chaos, other homeowners went in the opposite direction.

For those missing out on traveling and a much-needed getaway, bold paint and patterned wallpaper went up to evoke the feel of being on vacation. Whatever direction people went, one thing remained a priority, tons of natural light. While some choices might not agree with buyers, all bets are off until you're ready to sell. You do you.

Super-Duper Flex Spaces

Garages and basement storage areas doubled as more robust home gyms, bedroom niches and walk-in closets served as home offices. In 2020, people looked for multi-function rooms and easy transitions.

Modular and multi-functional furniture also became popular (think Murphy beds and bookshelves with a fold-down desk), along with plenty of storage that might allow the kitchen island to be used as a homeschooling space during the day and completely cleared off for dinner in the evening. If you're selling, showing buyers your home's various configurations could be a big plus.

Will These Changes Last?

That depends. For example, separate rooms were once quite popular. They enabled you to enjoy eating dinner without staring at a wrecked kitchen. They allowed for privacy and separate uses. And you could close doors to keep a single room warmer or cooler instead of wasting energy. Buyers and homeowners just might fall back in love with this style of living—or not. Only time will tell. 

As for upgrading energy-efficiency and installing tech features, that will likely continue as they've seen increasing popularity even prior to the pandemic. Color palettes will certainly come and go, and hopefully, we'll be able to open our homes to overnight guests in the near future. So, a guest room might be a good idea to have after all.

Ultimately, as a buyer, 2020 has likely changed your perspective on living, working and generally being at home more. Be sure to write out a fresh wish list and contact a PorchLight agent to find a home that offers the flexibility you need to be comfortable no matter what comes next. Maybe one with a zombie moat? Kidding.

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