During the COVID pandemic, life has dramatically changed how we work, learn, educate and connect with friends and family. In particular, stay-at-home restrictions led to a large increase in the number of Houstonians working from home over the past year.
And while pandemic restrictions will lift eventually (hopefully), many people and businesses seem set to continue with remote work moving forward into the future — a trend that could greatly impact both where people want to live, and what features they’ll be looking for in their next homes.
The Life of Remote Work In 2020 and 2021
More Houstonians and Americans more than ever shifted to remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data from Gallup, about 62% of employed Americans said that they were working from home at least some of the time as a result of the COVID crisis.
A study from the research firm Gartner found that about 74% of employers expect that some of their employees will shift to remote work on a permanent basis. A survey from Gallup, meanwhile, found that 3 in 5 workers who have shifted to working from home during the pandemic would prefer to continue working remotely as much as possible, even after public health restrictions have been lifted.
A study from Realtor.com shines a spotlight on the upsides of staying at home; in an April 2020 survey of 1,300 consumers searching for a new home, nearly 20% said that a big benefit of sheltering at home was having more time to spend with family. 13.9% said that they appreciated not having to get ready for work, and 12.8% enjoyed not having a daily commute.
The Freedom to Move — Anywhere
Having the ability to work remotely can offer individuals and families more freedom and flexibility — including when it comes to where they choose to live.
Not having to commute away from home could free people up to relocate to a spot they’ve always dreamed about — whether that means trading in city life for the suburbs, or moving across the country to be closer to their families and friends while still advancing in their current careers.
People have certainly been on the move throughout 2020; data from Pew Research Center suggests that more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults either changed their residence due to the pandemic, or know someone who did.
According to data from the professional services firm Upwork, recently cited by Keeping Current Matters, between 6.9% and 11.5% of households are planning a move “due to the growing availability of remote work due to COVID-19” — that would translate into 14 to 23 million Americans relocating in the near future!
Of this group, 41.5% are looking for homes more than 4 hours away from where they currently reside. Large cities are expected to see the largest exit; 20.6% of those who are planning to move are based in a major city.
This lines up with data from the National Association of REALTORS® 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report, which found that 57% of buyers who purchased a home during the pandemic opted for a suburban location, compared with 50% of “pre-pandemic” buyers.
What Home Features Will Be Key for “Work-From-Home” Buyers?
Spending more time at home in 2020 has highlighted some of the difficulties of remote work — and, moving forward, home buyers will be exploring homes that can allow them to enjoy the benefits of staying in, with fewer road blocks along the way.
As a result, one of the biggest factors that could drive some buyers from urban to suburban areas will be the types of home features available — including more square footage, more outdoor space, and a detached office space.
For example? According to the NAR 2020 Profile of Buyers and Sellers, the top reason that sellers were looking to relocate before the pandemic was to move closer to friends and family. After shelter-in-place restrictions, sellers were more likely to report that their main reason for moving “was because their home was too small.”
This lines up with survey findings from Realtor.com. The COVID pandemic has caused people wanting to move to have a new set of must-haves for their next home, many of which are closely associated with remote work — including more space in the house (15.7%), more outdoor space (13.6%), and better technology (12.5%).
As work-from-home becomes the norm, some of the home features that buyers will be looking for in 2021 and in the future might include:
A DEDICATED HOME OFFICE
Demand for home offices were already growing pre-COVID, and is a highly sought feature among buyers looking at listings right now in 2020 and beyond. Having an office space at home helps provide comfort and privacy, and can help create some boundaries between work and play — making it easier to relax and destress at the end of the day. For zoom meetings getting away from your pets and family can greatly lower your stress level.
Expect plenty of questions about broadband and Wi-Fi from buyers and sellers alike. A Pew Research Center study conducted in spring 2020 found that more than half of all U.S. adults said that the internet was “essential” to them personally during the pandemic. Meanwhile, smart home features will only continue to grow in popularity, particularly among younger home buyer generations. Even before the COVID, smart home tech could help a new construction home or a newly renovated home stand out.
MORE OUTDOOR SPACE
Spending more time at home during the pandemic people have rediscovered the importance of being able to relax in the Great Outdoors. The NAR 2020 Community and Transportation Preference Survey found that people who felt that they lived in areas with “lots of places to walk nearby” reported an 8% increase in overall quality of life.
MORE SEPARATION (INDOORS AND OUT)
According to a survey from Realtor.com, about 7.7% of home searchers want more separation inside; 9.8% want more separation from their neighbors. While the open floor plan isn’t going away anytime soon, buyers will be looking for “a better balance between private, semiprivate, and public spaces,” as Jennifer Kelly Geddes writes for Realtor.com. Way before the pandemic, buyers expressed a clear preference for homes with large outdoor living areas, with one survey showing that 70% of people think of a large backyard as their number one most important outdoor feature in a home.
Ready to Explore Houston? We’re Here to Make It Easier
While it’s hardly business as usual, we know that the Houston real estate market is still strong. The market is moving — and if you’re ready, you can too.
During this special time, the professionals at Houston Premium Homes Realty Group are here to help homebuyers and sellers achieve their biggest real estate goals, while making the process easier at every step of the way.
Please rest assured that while we are instituting the CDC’s health safety and prevention protocols across all our businesses and office locations, we are still operational and ready to continue serving you. At Houston Premium Homes, working with repeat and new home buyers and sellers has taught us how to overcome even the most adverse conditions. We’re by your side — no matter what.