The pandemic had a profound effect on virtually every aspect of our everyday lives – and even now that we have returned to a sense of relative normalcy, certain pandemic-inspired changes have continued to dominate. Among these changes: the emergence of remote work as more of a rule and less of an exception. Working from home started as a necessity to curb the spread of the virus, but has quickly become standard operating procedure for many people. Case in point: 40% of those polled in a recent Stanford survey worked either fully remotely or on a hybrid schedule (both remote and in-person).
Not surprisingly, the rise of remote work has had a ripple effect on other industries, including the real estate market. While the impact on commercial real estate is fairly straightforward (less people coming into the office translates to less need for office space), some of the more noteworthy impacts of remote work relate to residential home sales. These include:
- Increased demand for smaller cities, suburbs and rural areas. Prior to the pandemic, many people were tied to major urban areas due to their jobs. However, the rise of remote work has led to more freedom and flexibility with regard to location – in many cases, all you need is a good internet connection. This flexibility has, in turn, caused increased demand for real estate beyond major cities, as these areas offer more space and a lower cost of living.
- Increased demand for homes with workspaces. Whether it’s a home office, a spare bedroom or even a corner of the living room, workspaces have become an important selling point for houses (especially if multiple people plan to be working from home on a regular basis).
- A shift toward more sustainable homes. Remote work means spending more time in the house – which in turn means using more resources. To counteract this, both builders and homeowners are placing a greater focus on energy efficiency and environmental sustainability in home design and construction. Renewable energy resources like solar power, as well as energy-efficient, smart appliances are steadily gaining in popularity.
- New challenges – and opportunities – for real estate agents. In order to be successful, real estate agents need to keep in mind that buyers’ needs and habits have changed; the challenge of working remotely has led to an array of innovations in technology, designed to bridge the gap. In addition to marketing more sustainable homes with flexible spaces for remote work, agents can now provide potential buyers with more robust online listings, as well as virtual tours and other tools that don’t require face-to-face contact.
Remote work is likely here to stay, at least in some form. And as recent trends show, buyers, sellers and real estate agents are recognizing the housing market changes that come with this development, and adapting accordingly.