3 Ways Remote Work Is Transforming the Real Estate Market

June 25, 2020 By
Home Office space

For years, we’ve heard stories about the rise in popularity of remote work but the percentages of Americans actually working from home remained low. It wasn’t until recently, when the COVID-19 pandemic changed seemingly everything, that it became a more regular part of life for many of us and may even be here to stay. How exactly is remote work changing the real estate market? Let’s take a look!

We’re working from home … and we like it

Stay-at-home directives are still active in many areas, and even where such orders are lifting, workers are often being asked to work from home for the unforeseeable future. For example, in Oregon, office work is prohibited during the Baseline Phase and Phase 1. Limited office work may resume in Phase 2 but remote work is still recommended whenever possible. Little is known about Phase 3 yet except for that it’s unlikely to occur until there’s a vaccine.

Not only is remote work going to be necessary for an extended period, but it seems to be preferred by employees. According to recent studies, 75% of respondents who are currently working from home said they would like to continue to do so, even after they are permitted to return to the office.

These facts have important implications for the real estate market. Before the pandemic, workers were already fleeing cities for suburban areas due to the lower cost of real estate. Now, armed with the potential freedom that comes with working from home, employees are realizing that they can continue to perform their job while living in areas that are more desirable, whether that means a lower cost of living, better educational opportunities, or a more vibrant cultural scene. In a Redfin survey of inhabitants of expensive cities like New York and Seattle, over 50% would move to a cheaper location if they didn’t have to return to an office.

If you’re looking at building or flipping a house, it’s smart to consider this trend so you can maximize market interest!

What to take into account

Once you’re decided on incorporating our new COVID-19 sensibilities into your project, what exactly should you prioritize?

1 – Allocate for top-notch office space
This one is a no-brainer. Remote workers need great office spaces in their homes and there should be enough room for multiple people to work comfortably. This might mean one large room with ample space and natural light for two. Maybe it’s one standard-size office and another space that could be easily converted into an office, such as an ADU, a basement apartment, a bonus room, or even a well-lit corner that accommodates a small desk. Ensure office areas have convenient outlet access, a pleasing view (even if it’s a just pretty painting), and multiple lighting options (both natural and artificial).

2- Create more outdoor space
Many normal recreation and leisure activities are not available and may not be for an undefined period. Families may not feel comfortable resuming typical activities even when allowed, especially if they are high risk or close to those who are high risk. Some have started to have socially distant gatherings outside, since scientists believe that there is a lower risk of transmission. No matter a homeowner’s specific situation, it is likely that yard space will become increasingly important and desirable. Luckily, there are so many ways to create a great, flexible space that can meet a family’s needs, regardless of lot size. Here are some easy ideas.

  • Create multiple gathering areas. As we feel less comfortable being in close quarters with other people, we need more space to spread out. Instead of installing one patio as the sole source of sitting space, add a small gravel area or raised deck. Consider building a larger front porch or adding a sitting area in the front yard. Providing buyers with multiple outdoor entertainment options is important.
  • Bring the entertainment home. We’ve seen fancy outdoor kitchens and grilling setups for years and they’re not going away. For more modest homes and budgets, consider small built-in bars, space for a hot tub, or a fire pit. Consider designing seating space based on a potential outdoor movie theater, which is popular and surprisingly easy to set up. Ensure that buyers will envision the fun activities they’ll be able to enjoy from the comfort of their own yard.
  • Room for a garden. Many people have taken up gardening during the pandemic so create areas that can be used for raised beds. Some are gardening for fun or as a soothing hobby. Others see gardening as a means for producing food during a time when food shortages are real and going to the grocery store is an ordeal. No matter the case, providing attractive areas for gardening is a great way to attract buyers.

3 – Less emphasis on media rooms
Theater rooms used to be so popular! Homeowners seem to be less interested now, especially as more of us watch shows and movies on our tablets and smartphones. Even before COVID-19, homeowners were more interested in spaces that serve more than one purpose. Today, consider rooms that have more all-purpose appeal, like a playroom or home gym. There is currently a huge boom in home gyms with so many gyms closed or requiring social distancing protocols. As homeowners long for a vigorous workout where they can breathe freely without a mask, it’s likely that home gym popularity will only increase.

AIC is actively seeking out new loan requests. Contact us today at 541.343.9714 if you’re looking for a lender for your rehab project or new build!

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