How a Global Pandemic has Changed the Way We Live
Part One – The Foundation
It’s undeniable that the worldwide pandemic, COVID-19, has changed the way we live and interact. The question on everyone’s minds is, ‘but for how long?’.
Unfortunately, we at Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty don’t have an answer to that question. But we can help you navigate this new world of real estate by going over some of the changes we have seen these past few months with regards to what home buyers are looking for and how the home selling process has changed.
There is a lot happening in the world of real estate so we’ll be breaking this topic down. Right now, let’s take a look at some of the fundamental changes we are seeing in how people are using their homes and spaces.
1. Shelter In Place
When you are no longer going out in public like you used to, you start paying extra attention to aspects of your home that you may not previously have thought twice about. Many homeowners have found themselves wanting more space, both inside and outside, to get that much needed alone time. It’s difficult to find time and space for self care when you feel like your children or roommates are on top of you all day.
There is also an increase in demand for areas of the home to be dedicated to specific tasks, or activities. Not only home offices, but fitness rooms, media lounges and meditation nooks. People have started all sorts of new hobbies during quarantine and are wanting homes that have the proper space for these new pastimes.
Thanks to how easily the pandemic spreads, sheltering-in-place has been mandated by most of the country. There are a lot of people who had to either move their elderly relatives in with them, or had adult children move back home. Multi-generational living has skyrocketed nationwide since people have had to rearrange their lives as their jobs, healthcare and income have all been affected. This has lead to an increase in folks looking for larger homes with options for assisted living-type setups, whether that is a carriage house, garden level apartment or multiple owner suites.
2. Work and School From Home
Homes now need to meet more needs than ever before. Kitchen islands are not just for prepping meals but also for homeschooling children. The guest room may now double as a workout area or children’s play room. Instead of hosting parties in the dining room, it may now be used as a home office or craft area.
The fact that most people are living, working and educating from home means rooms that once had a single function, have had to evolve to play host to a variety of activities. This is leading to a fracturing of how homes could be designed and redesigned for the future.
For a long time, open concepts have been the norm. A kitchen open to the living room and dining area has been a standard in new construction. Now, as people are doing more in these communal spaces, they may be looking for ways to delineate areas and set up separate work zones for work, homework, creating, etc.
Buyers are looking for less of an open concept so they can have dedicated space for all manner of activities. Not only that, but niche design options are becoming more in demand as well. When you only bring work home occasionally, a folding table can be a desk in a pinch. But when you are doing something at home day in and day out, you want furniture, storage, tools and a layout that optimizes your ability to perform that activity.
3. Kitchen and Cooking
With people cooking at home for almost every meal these days, large kitchens with all the bells and whistles are in high demand. Buyers are looking for ample pantry space, and large, efficient appliances. They want to be able to stock up and not have to run to store as often, so large refrigerators, extra freezers and wine chillers are increasing in popularity.
Kitchens have been a hub of home life for decades but until recently, they weren’t often used day in and day out. Convenience has been the name of the game for years as far as our country’s eating habits are concerned. Frozen entrees, pre-packaged snacks, and heat-and-eat meals have been staples for many American households. In homes where both parents worked, eating out or ordering take out or delivery was a popular dinner option. Breakfasts are often granola bars, bagels, cereal or other items that can be eaten easily on the go.
Now, perhaps for the first time in a long time, people have been forced to slow down and have been re-thinking their eating habits. With the economy shut down and folks at home, they have the time to cook healthy meals from scratch; that may be the only option for many right now. Since restaurants have been closed people haven’t been eating out. Even as some reopened with take out many folks are still opting to make their own meals to keep the risk of infection lower.
Not only does this mean that kitchens are seeing a lot more action, but specialty appliances and tools are becoming the norm as folks learn new skills and get out of their cooking comfort zone. Lighting is getting more consideration as people are in their kitchens for longer periods of time, and at all hours of the day. Overhead lights aren’t enough anymore, you need task lighting and under cabinet lights for reading recipes, measuring ingredients, etc.
4. Outdoor Space
People are giving their home’s outdoor space more consideration than they ever have before. Urban dwellers who have been quarantined in condos are looking to move to properties with larger porches or courtyards. Many families with small yards or near busy areas are looking for larger plots with big backyards further away from the hustle and bustle of city living. Even those who had sufficient outdoor space are spending time and money sprucing the patios and yards up to get more fulfillment out of the time they are able to spend there.
A well-thought-out outdoor area can be a great extension of your home’s living space. It can add much needed square footage and provide change of pace when the weather allows. You can use it to grow food, in containers or in the yard. It can be a great spot for games that are a little too rowdy for the indoors.
Those that have the space have been adding pools, fire pits, patios, outdoor kitchens and more to really make the most out of their living situation. Some are switching out fencing for more privacy, or planting shrubbery and trees. Others are taking those items down so they can enjoy talking with their neighbors across backyards.
Changes to how we live will continue to evolve as we traverse this new reality. Like it or not, the coronavirus pandemic will continue to have a lasting impact on the American lifestyle. As we continue to spend more time in our homes, their design will have to shift to accommodate more and more of our needs. keep an eye out for our future articles, where we will discuss more aspects about how the real estate market has been changing.