How COVID Changed Home Design and Sales
Just as the pandemic has changed so many things in our lives, it has had a significant effect on both home sales and what people look for in a home. There is a strong demand for housing in Rutherford County, and prices are rising as the number of new listings declines. And while the trend was to buy smaller homes and use one room for multiple functions, homeowners are now looking for more separate spaces where the family can spread out.
As COVID-19 raged through April and May, new listings increased and sales slowed, but in the fall the backlogged home inventory began to drop, continuing to push up the sale price. Home prices were already rising with the influx of growth Tennessee had seen before the pandemic. As many of those who were considering selling decided to stay in quarantine and work on what they had, and others were looking for a new or more functional home, prices have consistently been much higher than in 2019.
Many of those looking for a home opt for a larger home to have room for at least a home office and space for the kids to take classes online. Others look to outdoor spaces to meet the need for a place to stretch out.
âIn the past, a home office was sometimes important to some buyers,â said Bill Jakes, broker and owner of Bill Jakes Realty, âbut many were willing to make a corner of their home for them. However, in this new era of Zoom and teleconferencing, I now have clients who would prefer a dedicated room for their home office. And many of those who have worked in call centers or large tech companies before have learned that they probably won’t go back to their old office routines. It looks like the home office is something that’s here to stay as the workforce evolves into this new era.
Jakes also notes that people don’t want an open floor plan as much as they once did. With so many people now at home for school and work, it has become important for children to zoom in for class and do their homework away from their parents’ home offices.
âI’ve had quite a few buyers who have lived with open floor plans who now want more single rooms,â Jakes noted. âThe open plans that have been so popular over the past decade do not meet the unique needs of today. The idea of ââmerging living spaces with the kitchen and dining area is always desirable and a good use of square footage, but these homes must provide adequate private spaces to remain desirable for today’s buyers. ‘hui.
Another area where buyers are more demanding is outdoor living spaces, with the outdoors being a safer space for socializing.
âSome families have looked for yards or larger houses in a neighborhood with other kids, or a common area with a play area or pool to occupy the kids,â said Beth Boudreaux, real estate agent at Bill Jakes Realty. . âAnd now people are also putting more effort into their outdoor living spaceâ¦ by adding a covered patio, pool, and fire pits. The desire is to use the space all year round.
Another change that has accelerated due to the pandemic is the growing shortage of single story homes. As the value of land increases, developers accumulate instead of leaving it.
âA lot of builders build homes and townhouses with maybe one bedroom on the first floor and sometimes all the bedrooms on the second floor,â Jakes added. âIn addition, it is becoming more and more difficult to find new homes with large yards. The days of the one-story ranch home on half an acre lot are long gone. It has more to do with population density than COVID, but it’s still a factor that has added its own constraints to the buying process. “
Homebuyers are now buying older homes where they can get what they want and either renovate them before they move in or plan to renovate them slowly after they move in. The biggest changes are the kitchens and bathrooms.
âIf you want a house on land or an older house in a historic district,â Boudreaux said, âyou’re going to have to invest some money in itâ¦ The prices have gone up so much that some people have to buy a house that needs to be renovated to fit its budget and plans to repair it over the years.
Jakes believes some of these changes will stick into the future. The most significant change being the need for a separate home office. âThe home office won’t be a temporary need for many families who work in phone-based or tech-based jobs. Many of these types of businesses will not return to the large commercial workspaces they once used. Many are making permanent plans to convert their workforce to work from home. “