COVID-19 has changed the real estate landscape in so many ways, from digital house tours to e-signing mortgages, and, most importantly, to what families expect in their homes. The pandemic has shifted home buyers’ needs and desires to be more willing to spend more to get what they want.
As we emerge from this point in history (the pandemic of 2020), we should focus on a few key takeaways that quarantine constraints have brought into focus. In a study done by Realtor.com, there were 4 major areas that people found the most difficult to manage while sheltering at home.
- Feeling trapped/unable to leave - 16%
- Separation from extended family and friends - 14.8%
- Finding ways to relax/de-stress - 12.3%
- Lack of fresh air/ outdoor time - 9%
These areas have caused a significant impulse to improve livability in one's current home or to actively pursue a new home that automatically alleviates the difficulties and fulfills the home buyers' wants.
- More space in the house - 15.7%
- More/better outdoor space - 13.6%
- Updated kitchen - 13.3%
- More/better technology (faster WIFI, smart home features, etc.)- 12.5%
When comparing the stated difficulties to the desired solutions, the fact that they are so closely intertwined is not surprising at all.
So what are home buyers truly looking for?
Home buyers across the country have stated that there are three must-haves in a post COVID home.
- Outdoor living space - It doesn't matter if the home buyer is single or a family of four, everyone wants outdoor space to gather, garden, have pets, and have family fun. Being in the fresh air and still keeping a safe distance has become necessary to the post-pandemic person.
- More flexible space within the home - The needs may be slightly different, but the desire is ultimately the same: people want an area in the home that can be transformed to fit what is important to them at this time. Whether it's working from home, homeschooling kids, working out, or adding a meditation room, families are being creative about what they would do with a little extra space
- Open kitchen - COVID has made Americans cook again, and surprisingly they are loving it! Now, the kitchen has always been a hot must-have on the home buyers’ dream sheet, but the upcoming American chefs have upped the ante, and they want a kitchen ready for their homemade goodies. The open concept kitchen with room for hosting a space-conscious gathering for friends and family is a feature that buyers are willing to pay for.
What does this mean for your sellers?
The good news is that the market is still a seller’s market, so they don't have to do much to sell fast. A few tips and tricks focused on the three areas above can make your home staging better and potentially increase the buying price.
- Spruce up the outdoor space - With more and more homebuyers desiring an outdoor space that gives them the freedom they want, make sure the property is cleaned up and manicured. Remove dead trees and plants, lay in some fresh mulch, tidy up the little tikes toys, and add a pop of color with some potted plants. Allow your home shoppers to visualize the great outdoors without unsightly obstacles.
- Create the appearance of flexible space - Freedom is the theme. Allowing shoppers to imagine a flexible area that can become a home office, a home gym, a playroom, or a schoolroom will excite any shopper beyond their dreams! Setting the stage hits on the emotional need of what buyers are looking for, and you have increased the usability of the listed property.
- Lighten and brighten the kitchen - With the longing of having family gatherings and the extra time people are spending cooking, the kitchen is a hot item. Even small kitchens can show the fashion and function of a well laid out kitchen. With warm lighting, a lite neutral coat of paint, cleared off countertops, and cleaned out cabinets, any kitchen, big or small, can become a home shoppers’ ideal space.
If you need more inspiration on how to stage homes to sell faster, check out the Home Staging Secrets On Demand Webinar.
COVID has undoubtedly changed how we all identify with the idea of home, and home buyers are actively pursuing their needs in this new normal.